The Legislature is making changes to the education profession
The end of the semester is almost here. We hope you are getting excited about enjoying your summer break, but we also hope that you keep in mind that one of the most significant legislative sessions in recent history is still in full swing. Future educators will want to watch how the Legislature is changing our school system. What’s been happening so far?
The Texas House of Representatives passed its version of the state budget, House Bill (HB) 1, April 3. The bill cuts public education funding by nearly $8 billion and reduces overall state spending by approximately $23 billion. The House spent several hours debating Article III, the education portion of the bill, but did little to change it from the version of the bill initially filed. The final vote was 98 to 49 and largely along party lines. Only two Republicans—Rep. David Simpson (R–Longview) and Rep. Aaron Peña (R–Edinburg)—joined House Democrats to vote against the bill.
The bill will now head to the Senate, which is also planning massive cuts for education funding, though not as deep as the House. The Senate version of the budget currently calls for cutting about $4 billion in public education spending. Ultimately, the bill will end up in conference committee, where a group of House and Senate members will hammer out the differences between the two versions.
Bills to provide districts “mandate relief” are making progress in both the House and Senate. The House Public Education Committee approved HB 400 by Committee Chairman Rep. Rob Eissler (R–The Woodlands) April 5. The bill calls for eliminating important regulations designed to protect educators and students. Some of the provisions in HB 400 include:
Eliminating the minimum salary schedule for teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians, and requiring districts to develop new salary systems based on factors such as student test scores and teacher evaluations.
Eliminating the 22-to-1 student-to-teacher class-size limit and replacing it with a 22-to-1 districtwide average and a hard cap of 25 students per classroom.
Reducing teacher contract and due process rights.
A similar bill, Senate Bill (SB) 12, is making its way through the Senate. These bills, along with the massive cuts in education funding, could completely change your profession. That’s why we encourage all members to stay in the loop over the summer and be ready to take action if needed. Take advantage of ATPE’s advocacy resources:
Join ATPE’s Legislative Alert Network (ATPE LAN) to stay plugged into the political scene. The LAN is a free email service that provides you with the latest in legislative news and helps you communicate directly with your legislators when it matters most.
Read the Legislative Update to keep up with happenings at the Capitol.
Read ATPE’s publications, such as ATPE News, ATPE’s quarterly magazine, and Essentials, ATPE’s online newsletter. Both contain pertinent legislative info.
Have a safe and happy summer break!
Before heading poolside
Check these ATPE items off of your summer to-do list
Although you might currently be dreaming of a summer filled with time spent relaxing in the sun or catching up on reading for fun, don’t neglect these important tasks:
Apply for ATPE scholarships. The deadline to postmark applications for both the Barbara Jordan Memorial and Fred Wiesner Educational Excellence scholarships is June 1. Ten scholarships of $1,500 each are awarded to ATPE members, so make filling out an application a priority. Visit www.atpefoundation.org/scholarships.asp to find more information, including criteria and applications, for both scholarships.
Update your contact information. If the state office doesn’t have your correct information, you could miss out on issues of Answer Key, Essentials and ATPE News; details of the $500 Extreme Classroom Makeover*; and other important information.
Renew your membership. Calling all teacher trainees and university student members! Your membership will expire July 31. Be sure to renew before heading back to school or into the classroom. (If you’re going into your first year of teaching, you will need to join as a first-time professional member; dues are $90 for the first year.) Look for renewal materials in your mailbox in July. You can also renew by calling (800) 777-ATPE and requesting a membership application or by clicking on the “Join/Renew” button (beginning June 1) at atpe.org.
Connect on the Net. ATPE has an online presence, and we want you to be a part of it. Visit the official Answer Key page and the official ATPE page on Facebook. “Like us” for up-to-date information on the latest association news. Also, follow us on Twitter: @OfficialATPE.
Join PACT and the Idea Exchange. Access free, confidential and quick one-on-one help through membership in the Performance-based Academic Coaching Team (PACT) System. Network with other educators from across the state and join the ATPE Book Circle for continuing professional education (CPE) credit on the ATPE Idea Exchange.
And don’t forget to take advantage of ATPE’s great services and discounts. Whether you’re touring the nation, have your eyes on the shopping prize or are sorting out your personal well-being, remember the plethora of services and discounts that come with ATPE membership. Your ATPE membership card grants you access to lodging discounts, the ATPE Online Mall, theme park tickets, cell phone savings, prescription drug savings and more. Visit www.atpe.org/Resources/ServicesAndDiscounts to find out about the many ways you can save!
*The ATPE Extreme Classroom Makeover contest is open to teacher trainees who renew their memberships in the first-time professional category for the 2011-12 school year. Renewal information will be mailed starting in July 2011; if you do not receive your renewal application packet, please call (800) 777-ATPE to request one and to update your current mailing information.
Educators of the future
Lone Star College–Tomball ATPE members tell what they like about ATPE
Erin Snyder, the 2010-11 Lone Star College–Tomball ATPE president, has led the local unit in a number of ATPE activities this year. During the fall semester, the local unit participated in a community-sponsored Holiday Feast and handed out anti-bullying materials as part of a community-wide campaign to promote positive citizenship. Snyder has enjoyed learning about the benefits of belonging to a professional organization and has also helped to promote ATPE’s pharmacy discounts and scholarship programs through the local unit and the university’s Future Teachers Club.
Kyann Cambron is new to ATPE this semester. (She is completing her Observation Course before student teaching next semester.) She was encouraged to join by the local unit’s sponsor, Director of Teacher Education Programs Mary Ann Jackson. Cambron was impressed by the wealth of information and benefits available to members and says she has been particularly interested in reading our legislative updates and staying informed on education issues at the state level.
Is there something that stands out to you about your ATPE membership? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep it accurate
Don’t fudge facts on your résumé
Everyone knows that you are supposed to make yourself look as good as you possibly can when you are out looking for a new job—snazzy haircut, new suit, shiny shoes. This holds true when it’s a first teaching job, too. In the competitive atmosphere of job hunting, it can be tempting to try to give yourself an edge—even if it means fudging the facts a little on your job application. Everyone does it, right?
Before you write down that you made the dean’s list every semester and chaired a select committee on educational quality while holding down a full-time job and maintaining your 3.9 grade point average, be aware of the risks that you are taking by exaggerating the truth.
Sure, it is entirely possible that you may go an entire career without anyone ever learning that you made up a job, padded a qualification or wrote a bogus recommendation letter for yourself. On the other hand, employers, including school districts, store the application records of teachers even after the teachers have moved on to other districts. Those fudged facts are time bombs just waiting to obliterate your career.
Lying on an application is grounds for termination, and there is no statute of limitations on this kind of indiscretion. Whenever it is discovered, the district is free to act. Lying on an application is also considered an act of moral turpitude and, specifically, a violation of the ethical standards for the education profession. If word gets to the State Board for Educator Certification that you lied, your certification can be quickly revoked.
Feel free to engage in the honorable and time-honored rituals of the job hunt: smiling, sounding excited about every new challenge, accentuating the positive and minimizing the negative. Just be sure that you don’t cross over into the realm of fiction when it comes to your facts.
Don’t forget—the first-ever ATPE Summit will be held July 20–23, 2011, in Austin. University students and teacher trainees can attend the ATPE Summit for free! Plan to attend the University Reception at 5:15 p.m., Friday, July 22. (You’ll receive an invitation for the reception if you’re in a local unit.) Visit www.atpe.org/summit for more information.
Interested in passing along some knowledge? ATPE has copies of the 2010-11 Your First Classroom left that we’ll send to anyone who wants one (or three) on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Kathy Lanfer to request copies.
Answer Key is an exclusive benefit for ATPE’s college student and teacher-trainee members. Send your comments to email@example.com.