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Archive for February, 2009

Texas PTA Day at the Capitol and Centennial Kick-Off

Posted by Texas Education on February 23, 2009

This just in from the Texas PTA:

Texas PTA to underscore legislative priorities and celebrate 100 years of advocacy efforts for children

AUSTIN – More than 500 people are expected to attend Texas PTA’s Day at the Capitol on February 26, 2009 at 11:00 A.M. on the south steps of the Capitol.  Texas PTA holds this event bi-annually to bring attention to its very ambitious legislative agenda for the children of Texas.  Senators Kirk Watson and Jane Nelson, Representatives Jim McReynolds and Jim Pitts and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples are scheduled to speak at the rally.

PTA Day at the Capitol encourages its members from around the state to set up meetings with the legislators in their district.  Some of the issues include improving air quality in school buses, restricting cellular technology for driving teens, strengthening child passenger restraint laws and expanding the sales tax holiday to include school supplies.

This rally also marks the beginning of Texas PTA’s 100th Annual Convention.  Jan Wilkerson, Texas PTA President, will welcome convention delegates to the Austin Convention Center, Ballroom A, on Friday, February 27, at 7:00 p.m.  The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus along with his wife and daughter are scheduled to attend to greet convention attendees and to reaffirm the Speaker’s support for Texas PTA, and guest speaker, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, will welcome PTA delegates to Austin, show her support for expanding the sales tax holiday and reiterate her long-time commitment to Texas children and nutrition.

Convention activities will continue throughout the weekend, including an exhibit hall with dozens of vendors, Texas PTA market, exciting training and advocacy workshops and Centennial activities to help Texas PTA celebrate its 100th birthday!  In addition, the event includes the official business meeting of the state organization, whereby delegates vote on bylaws amendments and legislative positions and resolutions.

Texas PTA is the largest child advocacy organization in the state with more than 600,000 members. Through events like PTA Day at the Capitol and the 100th Annual State Convention, Texas PTA continues to fulfill its mission to be a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and well being of every child.

For more information on the Texas PTA, visit www.txpta.org or contact the state office at 800-TALK-PTA.

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Texas PTA Legislative Update – Bills of Interest

Posted by Texas Education on February 16, 2009

I read about most of the new assignments in the Chron last week. Sorry for not updating sooner. I am certainly pleased and have been hearing of more and more “interesting” appointments that we can be proud of and happy about:

By the numbers – There are 76 Republicans in the Texas House and 74 Democrats. There are 34 committees. Eighteen (18 ) are chaired by Republicans; 16 are Democrats. Fifteen chairmen are in that position for the first time in their legislative careers. There are more Democrat chairs this session, more African-American chairs (5) and Hispanic chairs (4) than two years ago, and the same number of women chairs (7). The number of urban chairs fell by two, while the number of rural chairs fell by four; that balance is now 23 urban, 11 rural. (Texas Weekly)

Rep. Rob Eissler, (R) The Woodlands, returns to the chairmanship of Public Education.
Rep. Jim Pitts, (R) Waxahachie, returns to the chairmanship of Appropriations after losing the chairmanship last session due to his failed attempt to unseat Tom Craddick.

Over the next few days we will identify legislators to carry Texas PTA legislation in the House. We have been awaiting committee announcements before identifying authors for several bills.

For a complete list of committee assignments, visit

February 26 is fast approaching and Texas PTA is excited to welcome several key legislators and statewide officeholders to the Centennial Rally at the Capitol. Chairman Jim Pitts, House Appropriations, Chairman Rob Eissler, House Public Education, Chairwoman Jane Nelson, Senate Health and Human Services, Commissioner Todd Staples, Agriculture Commission, Commissioner Larry Soward, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

SB 61, Booster seat bill, has been referred to Senate Transportation. We expect a hearing in the next 2-3 weeks. We have met with key staff for each member of the committee and anticipate smooth sailing in committee.

HB 5, statewide smoke-free bill, was referred to House State Affairs. Unfortunately the makeup of this committee is problematic for our issue. Over the next few days we will be working to develop a strategy to deal with this. In the meantime, we hope to move the Senate version of the bill, SB 544, first. It has been referred to Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 144, sales tax expansion bill, has been referred to the Finance Committee in the Senate. This bill is not Texas PTA’s version of the bill. We are working with the author, Sen. Ellis (D) Houston, requesting a substitution of our bill language. In the meantime, we are beginning meetings next week to identify a House sponsor.

HB 339, driver training program revision legislation that includes Texas PTA’s cell phone prohibition by driving teens, has not yet been referred to committee. This bill is carried by Rep. Larry Phillips (R) Sherman. Other bills that deal only with the cell phone use prohibition by driving teens, are expected to be filed in both the House and Senate in the next week to 10 days. Both the House and Senate drafts had to be resubmitted for corrections as they contained exemptions that were unacceptable. Rep. Jose Menendez (D) San Antonio, Sherman, and Sen. Tommy Williams (R) The Woodlands.

For information on all the bills being tracked by Texas PTA please click on the following links:

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OMG – are you kidding me? Gov. Perry may reject aid from stimulus package?

Posted by Texas Education on February 9, 2009

Could it be? Gov. Rick Perry may “reject” any aid from the stimulus package the President is working on? Our poor schools. All I can say is, “OMG!” This is unbelievable, but, not surprising coming from Perry.

Several Democrats and even a few Republicans are nervous that Gov. Rick Perry might reject the federal aid.

“If there’s any risk Perry would reject that money, we want responsible lawmakers to take it, allocate it and use it for Texas,” said state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso.

Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle wouldn’t say if the governor will oppose taking any of the aid.

“The governor continues to oppose the bailout, but if Congress does allocate taxpayer money, a lot of which is from hard-working Texans, then Texans deserve their fair share,” she said.

Several state lawmakers have asked the stimulus package’s congressional authors to add wording to let a legislature bypass a governor and accept the federal help.

Though there is some sigh of relief,

Last week, state Reps. Joe Pickett and Marisa Marquez, both El Paso Democrats, and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, filed a resolution saying the Legislature intends to take the federal money for Texas. In the Senate, Shapleigh filed an almost identical measure.

Straus played down any friction with Perry.

“The governor’s going to be involved,” he said.

One can only hope, one can only hope!!!

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HISD to find new super

Posted by Texas Education on February 6, 2009

No, I didn’t miss the boat on this one, just trying to get my ducks in a row here. This came as quite a shocker to me. I don’t envy any school district to have to look for another superintendent, especially the largest in the state. I’m not much up on HISD, at least not much before now. I’m still learning, and feel I (as I teach) always will be.

Based on what’s been reported in the past, I was taken aback. Things are difficult with Texas Education (and that’s putting it mildly) right now, but I do have hope things will improve, at least from what is buzzing around now. (See yesterday’s post and the federal aid that I hope will see it’s way to our Texas schools. And having to find a new superintendent, well…we wish them all the best.

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Is school finance back on the table?

Posted by Texas Education on February 5, 2009

Sorry, to be a bit awol lately. There has been lots to rant and rave about, but I’ve been a bit under the weather, makes y0u kinda not want to do much. But, with the brisk weather, along with coughing less and feeling a bit better, onto more important things:

There is an article out of Austin By Kate Alexander from the AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

It usually takes a judge to compel Texas lawmakers to tackle the thorny issue of school finance reform.

But several key legislators say there is no reason to wait for a lawsuit to fix the well-known flaws in how Texas pays for its schools.

“I would like to get off that treadmill,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said Wednesday.
The aim will be to pass legislation that addresses the immediate problems and sets a course to remedy the long-term issues that often land the state in court, Ogden said.

Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, also backed the idea of addressing the fairness issues in the school finance system now.

Can it be, can it really be true???? Not to say I’ve given up hope, but I feel I’m running out of steam, in more ways than one. Beating your head up against the wall is not my way of encouraging, nor is it fun.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in accountability, completely unbelievable, Ethics, financing, funding, Good Stuff, In-the-news, leadership, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »