News of the Week
Outlook Uncertain for Payday Lending Legislation
Consumer advocates hoped that 2013 would be the year for a serious effort to rein in the most egregious practices in the payday and auto-title lending industry — financial institutions that offer short-term loans to low-income borrowers at high interest rates. But now, the leading vehicle for regulatory reform, Senate Bill 1247, by state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, threatens to stall in a House committee, and the bill’s advocates say they are facing their worst-case scenario.
STAAR Results May Hold Back 80,000 Fifth-Graders
More than 80,000 fifth-graders and 60,000 eighth-graders in the state are at risk of being held back this year because of poor performance on state standardized tests under a Texas law banning social promotion.
Efforts to Reform Teacher Evaluations in Texas Falter
Less than 3 percent of educators receive scores below the “proficient” level, and the variation in scores from year to year has been so small that state officials stopped collecting the data from school districts after the 2010-11 academic year.
Texas House Votes to Reduce State Exams in Lower Grades
A measure taking aim at the firm that develops the state’s standardized tests briefly stalled legislation reducing high-stakes exams for elementary and middle school students on Tuesday, before it finally passed the Texas House.
Guns on campus bill scheduled for Texas House vote
One of the top pro-gun bills before Texas lawmakers this session was green-lighted Monday for a House floor vote this weekend, and a top backer predicted approval there for the plan to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry their handguns into college classrooms.
Latest teacher retirement changes would hit fewer school employees
Members of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas objected strongly last week to a legislative proposal that would have required about half of current employees to work until age 62 to receive full retirement benefits. They now have no minimum retirement age but must achieve the “Rule of 80,” in which their years of service and age equal 80.
House bill exempts high-performers from some STAAR tests
The Texas House continued to chip away at state-mandated testing by approving a bill Thursday that would allow elementary and middle school students to skip some standardized exams if they earn top test scores in earlier grades.
Texas House passes Price’s booster seat law
A bill sponsored by state Rep. Four Price aimed at making motorists with children ensure their youngsters are buckled up in their booster seats has passed the Texas House.
Equity Center LEGISLATIVE ALERT
Through the link is a recap of legislation approved by the Senate Education and House Public Education Committees during their Tuesday hearings.
TSTA opposes latest version of TRS bill
The Texas State Teachers Association opposes the latest version of SB1458, the Teacher Retirement System bill, because it would ask too much of active teachers and do too little for retirees. The bill would increase contributions from active teachers while leaving 200,000 retirees without a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the 12th straight year.
The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries
When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources. Compare this with our approach to our military: when results on the ground are not what we hoped, we think of ways to better support soldiers. We try to give them better tools, better weapons, better protection, better training. And when recruiting is down, we offer incentives.
As West ISD Plans Recovery Effort, Teachers Brace For The Long Haul
Since the West explosion, West ISD has lost three of its four campuses, students are displaced, and classrooms are bare. Many teachers’ homes are either damaged or destroyed.
School breakfast bill is a recipe for success
The legislation proposes to treat school breakfast as just another educational tool, similar to textbooks.
Remember when candidate Obama in 2008 spoke of hope and change. That encouraged many educators to believe that No Child Left Behind would be ended, tossed into the dustbin of history, where it belongs. Sadly, President Obama built his Race to the Top right on the flawed foundation of NCLB, and made teaching to the test a necessity.
Report: Not Just What You Study but Where That Matters
Two students with degrees in the same major, but from two different public universities in Texas, might earn significantly different amounts in their first year in the workforce. And the institutions that produce the highest-earning graduates are not necessarily the state’s highly esteemed flagships.
Standardized Test Proposal for Texas Colleges Stalls
A proposal requiring Texas public universities to administer a standardized test, one that has been the subject of significant national debate, appears to be stalled, but the debate over the assessment appears to be far from over.
Charter Bill Brings New Players to Education Policy
As lawmakers hammer out the terms of charter school legislation, political operatives better known for their activities in other venues have popped up among the usual cast of characters in education committee meetings.
After West, First Responders Scholarship Fund Announced
The new fund will provide scholarships, administered annually by the New York-based College Board, to students who are the children of a first responder, or are first responders themselves. To qualify, students must perform well on the PSAT and SAT tests, which the College Board maintains, and demonstrate civic engagement and leadership. The College Board is accepting contributions from the public and private organizations for the fund.