TRS faces scrutiny over downtown Austin lease

You may have read recent media reports about the $326,000 per month rent that TRS will be paying to lease three stories of prime office space in the “Indeed Building” in downtown Austin for its investment management division. The agency is facing increasing criticism and scrutiny over its decision to lease space in the most expensive area of Austin to house its investment staff.

TCTA reminded the TRS Board and staff of a few controversial decisions regarding the investment division in recent testimony, pointing out that TRS members are becoming wary of how the agency is spending pension funds at a time when retirees are struggling to make ends meet. We also communicated concerns about the agency’s planning for future office restructuring to the Sunset Advisory Commission, which is conducting a review of TRS efficiency and effectiveness.

TEA needs volunteers for reading academy pilot

The Texas Education Agency is looking for reading experts and practitioners to participate in and provide feedback on its proposed modules for Reading Academies. TEA said feedback from pilot participants on the content, quality, and usability of Reading Academies modules is critical to ensuring that the agency can provide high quality professional development statewide beginning this summer. Participants will get:
  • Access to the draft Reading Academies modules at no cost.
  • The opportunity to review, edit and evaluate the early Reading Academies prototype materials and influence the final statewide product offered to all K-3 Texas teachers and principals.
  • Free coaching and professional learning to support the content provided.

USDE approves teacher shortage areas for 2020-21

The U.S. Department of Education approved the Texas Education Agency's list of teacher shortage areas for the 2020-21 school year. Teachers in the following subject areas may qualify for federal, state and public service loan forgiveness programs:
  • Bilingual/ESL – elementary and secondary levels
  • Special education – elementary and secondary levels
  • Career and technical education – secondary levels
  • Technology applications and computer science – elementary and secondary levels
  • Mathematics – secondary levels
District sues charter school over request for records

A school district sent a request for public information to a charter school, asking for information about student applicants, including names, grade, address, phone number and the school district and campus the child attends. The charter school denied the request, stating that the information was confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and not subject to disclosure. The school district sued, trying to compel the charter school to produce the records.

SBOE seeks applicants for TEKS science work groups

The State Board of Education is reviewing the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for science and is accepting applications from educators, parents, and business and industry representatives to serve on several work groups. Individuals selected for the science TEKS review work groups will convene in Austin for a minimum of one face-to-face meeting. Additional meetings may be conducted via webinar.

African American Studies course stays on track
During a meeting in Austin this week, State Board of Education members approved standards for an African American Studies course, keeping the new elective on track for implementation in the 2020-21 school year. Final approval of the curriculum is expected at the board's April meeting.
Register to vote by Feb. 3

Monday, Feb. 3, is the deadline to register to vote in the March 3 primaries. Early voting is Feb. 18-28. In addition to the 2020 presidential election, Texas voters will select candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Texas House and Senate and the State Board of Education. TCTA's TexasTeachersVote.org website has information about the candidates for the legislature and SBOE.

TEA releases 2019 annual report

The Texas Education Agency has released its 2019 annual report, a document that promotes the progress and advancements taking place in public schools and districts across Texas. Click here to read the report.
Save on a Valentine's Day surprise for your sweetheart

Through TicketsatWork.com, TCTA members can save up to 50% on romantic getaways, flowers, candy, restaurants and other Valentine's Day gifts. Log in now or create an account using company code SWTCTA and save on a surprise for your sweetheart.

  • TCTA's 2020 Annual Meeting is Feb. 7 in Austin.
  • Feb. 17 is Presidents Day.
  • TRS Board of Trustees meets Feb. 20-21 in Austin.
  • SBEC meets Feb. 21 in Austin.
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