Several education bills pass this week in House, Senate

A number of education-related bills have been approved by the House or Senate this week and will now move to the other chamber for consideration. Among them is a controversial charter school bill opposed by TCTA and other education groups.

In a long hearing Tuesday, the House Public Education Committee reviewed 30 bills, including three that would reduce STAAR testing requirements.

In other action this week:
Throughout the session, you can find daily Updates from the Capitol and track key legislation related to education in our Bill Summaries.
Join us Saturday for a legislative update on Zoom!

TCTA kicks off our new Saturday Spotlight series at 10 a.m. this Saturday, April 17, with an update on the 2021 Legislative Session. Paige Williams and Ann Fickel will discuss education bills and answer questions from attendees.

Why ActiveCare may be on the verge of a big, big problem

In the Weeds is a new feature in which we veer off the beaten path to try to demystify complex issues. This week, we’ll explain why a District of Innovation loophole is costing the state’s school health insurance plan – and you – big bucks.

What do Districts of Innovation have to do with health insurance?
So far, 145 school districts have used their DOI status and a loophole in the law to compete with TRS-ActiveCare, and it’s increasing costs for everyone in the plan. Depending on whether/how the legislature reacts, and whether more districts take advantage of the loophole, employees may end up paying considerably higher premiums for ActiveCare next year. Click here to read more.
Districts urge students to return to campuses to end school year

Many districts across Texas are urging students to return to classrooms for the final weeks of the school year. In Laredo ISD, schools are reopening now that most LISD educators are vaccinated. Dallas ISD wants to mitigate learning loss and give seniors a sense of community before graduation. Others, like Austin ISD, could lose millions in funding if they fail to meet the state's in-person attendance requirements.

In other pandemic-related news this week:
TRS considers emergency rule allowing retirees to teach full-time summer school

The TRS Board of Trustees is expected to adopt an emergency rule this week that would allow retirees to return to work up to full time between June 1 and Aug. 31 to help school districts staff summer school. If approved on Friday, retirees could work full time without jeopardizing their TRS pension checks. Click here to read more.

The TRS Telephone Counseling Center will be closed Monday and the MyTRS website portal will be unavailable from 7 p.m. Friday through Monday while TRS upgrades its information management system. Services are expected to resume on Tuesday, April 20. Click here for more information.
TEA seeks feedback from first-year teachers by June 15

New teachers under a standard certificate must respond to a survey about their preparation at the end of their first year of teaching. The information gathered will assist TEA in improving the experience for teacher candidates through educator preparation programs. First-year teachers were emailed links to the survey on April 1 and must complete it by June 15. Click here for more information.
  • The State Board for Educator Certification meets April 30.
  • Voting ends May 5 in the TRS election for the Public School District Employee position on the TRS Board of Trustees.
  • Register now for your chance to win cash during H-E-B's Virtual Tribute to Teachers on May 8.
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