Rep. Dennis Bonnen, a 46-year-old Angleton Republican who has spent almost half of his life in the Texas House of Representatives, appears to have the votes to succeed Rep. Joe Straus as Speaker of the House. Bonnen is a shrewd tactician and top ally of Straus, emerging over the past decade as one of the lower chamber's most outspoken members, going to bat for the House over high-profile issues like property tax reform and border security.
Bonnen, who chairs the powerful budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee, has long been regarded as a hard-nosed lawmaker who doesn’t shy away from conflict. Many Democrats have applauded him for continually standing up for the Texas House in its rivalry against the Senate — even if it put him at odds with fellow Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick who presides over the upper chamber.
Rep. Bonnen has released a list of 109 Representatives, including 78 Republicans and nearly half — 31 of 67 — of the Democrats who will serve in the House next year, who have pledged to support his candidacy for Speaker of the House. He has declared school finance reform as his number one priority for the next session that begins on January 8, 2019.
The State Board of Education has adopted a new Long-Range Plan for Public Education (through the year 2030) which establishes an overall goal of access and equity so that all children receive what they need to learn, thrive, and grow. This reflects a desire to have equitable access to funding, advanced courses, and modern technology.
Developed after assessing the strengths, opportunities, and challenges across Texas, the plan also focuses on student engagement and empowerment; family engagement and empowerment; and educator preparation, recruitment, and retention as key areas that are vital to educational progress.
The 18-member steering committee included State Board members, local school board members, administrators, teachers, parents — including Texas PTA President Sheri Doss — business representatives, students, and professors, as well as representatives from the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The Revenues Working Group of the Texas Public School Finance Commission met in early November to discuss revenue ideas for funding schools, although they focused mainly on property tax relief. Little of the discussion focused on new areas of revenue to increase the overall share of education funding but, rather, looked at rising property taxes and restructuring recapture.
Tommy Williams, former state senator and current budget advisor for Gov. Abbott, explained the Governor’s plan to limit property tax growth with a 2.5% cap and use any additional state revenue sources to provide property tax relief or alleviate the effects of recapture. Williams noted several times that the state must invest new money in the school finance system but did not suggest the source of any new money.
The most recent meeting was held on November 27 and considered these proposals. Read more about the Governor’s school finance plan here.
Texas PTA has adopted priorities for the 86th Session of the Texas Legislature that begins on January 8, 2019. Top priorities include:
READ the complete list of PRIORITIES here.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has been awarded two Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act grants. Both federal grants, worth $1 million each, will be used to support mental health training for Texas school districts, as well as establish effective campus threat assessment practices across the state.
The two grants of $1 million each represent the maximum grant awards for each category of the STOP School Violence Act grants. The two grants awarded to the state will be used for the following:
Statewide School Violence and Mental Health Training Program
An informal competitive grant program will assist Texas school districts in obtaining needed mental health training for staff and administrators. This training will serve the needs of students, while also providing awareness and connections to needed mental health services. The initial grants will be made available to Alpine ISD, Italy ISD, and Santa Fe ISD. Additional school districts will be added to the grant program through a competitive application process over the next two years. All grant funds will be awarded to provide the training needed to meet the identified needs of the district to prevent school violence from occurring.
School Threat Assessment Teams
This grant will be used to support the statewide development, implementation, and operation of school threat assessment teams. Texas schools currently lack formalized statewide training in the threat assessment process, which is critical to successfully preventing targeted acts of school violence. This statewide training program — which will be a collaborative effort between TEA, the Texas School Safety Center, and SIGMA Threat Management — will properly equip school personnel with the skills needed to recognize, respond quickly to, and prevent acts of violence across the state of Texas.
Stay informed! If you would like to receive Under the Dome and other advocacy communications through the 86th legislative session, click here* to register. *Navigate to "Quick Sign-up" (top right) and follow the cues.
With the 86th Legislative Session starting in a few months, the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Council of PTAs, in partnership with the Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Birdville ISD, Frisco ISD, Northwest ISD, and Lewisville ISD Councils of PTAs, will be hosting a legislative roundtable to discuss the state of public education in Texas. The panelists will be comprised of area state representatives, with questions provided by notecards from the audience. This is your chance, as a constituent, to discuss the issues affecting public education and hear from the people who create the laws and policies shaping the education system. This event is open to the public.
The legislative roundtable will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at the GCISD PDEC, Panther Den, 5800 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville.
For additional details download the flyer (RIGHT) or visit the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/313411609420061/
Your application must be received in the Voter Registrar’s office or postmarked at least 30 days before an election to be eligible to vote in that election. Early voting runs October 22-November 2. Learn more here.
The House Public Education Committee has issued its report in the wake of the Santa Fe ISD shootings. Among the recommendations:
Read the full report here.
Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, announced several months ago that he would not run for re-election to the Texas House, thus creating an opening for a new Speaker of the House. It’s the first open-seat election for Speaker since Gib Lewis decided to retire 26 years ago. Thus far seven members of the House have filed to replace him:
The Speaker is elected by the members of the House on the first day of the legislative session, January 8, 2019. Members who have filed to run for Speaker can openly campaign for the position as soon as they file. Rumors abound regarding other House members who will run for Speaker but have not yet filed.
Why is the Speaker of the House election so important?
The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the Texas House of Representatives. The Texas Constitution requires the House of Representatives, each time a new legislature convenes, to choose one of its own members to serve as Speaker. The Speaker’s main duties are to conduct meetings of the House, appoint committees, maintain order during floor debate, recognize members who wish to speak, and enforce the Rules of the House. One of the most influential roles of the Speaker is his or her ability to control legislation as it moves through the process, speeding or slowing the movement of legislation based on several factors, including his or her political philosophy and party affiliation, and the will of the members of the House.
In the wake of federal sanctions against Texas — for placing an illegal cap that artificially limited for a decade the number of students who received special education services — Texas expects thousands more students to be identified for services in the next year and a need for 9,000 special education teachers to teach them. The rigors of teaching special education have resulted in a national shortage of special education certified teachers. State officials estimate it will cost the state up to $3.3 billion to provide special education to more than 150,000 additional students by 2021, a roughly 30% increase.
Please join us for Texas PTAs 2019 Rally Day! This will be your chance to meet with your legislators to discuss Texas PTAs legislative priorities.
Once the 2019 priorities are released we will be sure to update & notify!
Advocacy begins with each of us.
Texas U.S. Senators
Congressional District 26--Congressman Michael C. Burgess
Texas Congressional Member Websites
Texas State Senator
Texas State Senate District 12--Senator Jane Nelson
Capitol Office: CAP 1E.5
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0112
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
District Address: 1225 S. Main St., Suite 100
Grapevine TX 76051
Phone: (817) 424-3446
State District Offices
Texas State Representative
Texas State House District 63--Representative Tan Parker
Capitol Office: CAP 4S.2
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0688
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 800 Parker Square, Ste. 245
Flower Mound TX 75028
Phone: (972) 724-8477
Texas State Board of Education Member
Texas State SBOE District 14--Ms. Sue Melton-Malone
State Board of Education Member Websites
LISD Board of Trustees