Association of Texas Professional Educators
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I join ATPE?
How do I join ATPE?
How much does ATPE membership cost?
What are the benefits of ATPE membership?
How is ATPE different from the other educators’ organizations?
I already belong to a professional association specific to my content area. Why should I also join ATPE?
I am a retired educator. Why should I join ATPE?
How are ATPE’s dues more cost effective than other associations’ dues?
How do I know if my job qualifies me for ATPE membership?
Is there a deadline to join ATPE*?
How do I know when I am a member?

Why should I join ATPE?
ATPE encourages current and potential members to research each educators’ organization to find the one that best suits them professionally and personally. If you are looking for an organization nurtured and sustained by dedicated education professionals that offers the most comprehensive member benefits package available along with affordable dues, you will like what ATPE has to offer.

See how we compare with other educator organizations.

How do I join ATPE?
Fill out an ATPE membership application and send it directly to the ATPE state office or, where applicable, give it to a designated local unit representative. All local unit leaders should have access to membership application packets. For more information, contact ATPE Member Services at (800)777-ATPE (2873), e-mail member_services@atpe.org, or join online.

How much does ATPE membership cost?
Membership dues range from $10 to $145, depending on the membership category. The categories are professional ($145), first-time professional ($80), associate ($70), teacher trainee (engaged in student teaching) (free), college student (not engaged in student teaching) (free), retired ($10) and public ($10). Click here to determine the category in which your job description falls, or contact ATPE Member Services at (800) 777-ATPE (2873) or member_services@atpe.org. Only the professional, first-time professional, associate and teacher trainee membership categories are eligible for the professional liability insurance.*

First-time Professional Member Dues (Only $80!)
First-time professional-category members can enjoy all the benefits and services ATPE offers for just $80 in 2013-14. You are eligible for first-time professional membership if you have never been a professional-category member of ATPE.

Local Unit Dues
Your local unit may set and collect local dues in addition to state dues. Local unit dues vary, so ask your local unit president if you are unsure of your local unit dues amount. 

ATPE-PAC Contributions
Members who wish to donate when completing their membership applications should include their donations in their payments to ATPE. Learn more about ATPE-PAC.

What are the benefits of ATPE membership?
There’s a reason why the Association of Texas Professional Educators is the largest educators’ association in Texas … we welcome all public education employees to unite with us in a collaborative spirit to serve the children of Texas.

ATPE is dedicated to providing you with the protection, advocacy and resources that will allow you to focus on the reasons you became an educator in the first place.

Protection
Devote more time to students and less to worry. Legal situations can force you to take valuable time away from your students and can also drain your wallet, but ATPE provides the protection you need. Professional Liability Insurance and Employment Rights Protection: Every eligible ATPE member is covered by up to $8 million in professional liability insurance. This includes up to $2 million per occurrence for civil rights claims brought by students, the most common reason educators are sued. Additionally, up to $10,000 per claim is available for legal costs related to employment rights protection, subject to $20,000 aggregate per member. The benefit is provided, win or lose.*

In addition to the insured benefits, ATPE maintains a team of dedicated licensed staff attorneys who may assist eligible members with employment concerns**. If you have a simple question about duty-free lunch or a complicated issue that concerns your job, simply call (800) 777-ATPE (2873), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., or access the Member Legal Services Intake System (MLSIS). Our prompt and confidential service will give you peace of mind. We regret that assistance is not provided in situations that arose outside the individual's effective date of insurance.

Advocacy
Public education funding, retirement and testing are the most important topics in the Legislature today. Legislative decisions about education directly affect your career and quality of life. You have the right to be heard.

ATPE is member-owned and member-governed. The association's members shape the public education priorities we advocate at the Capitol in Austin, in dealings with state agencies and in Washington, D.C. ATPE works year-round as a professional, positive voice.

ATPE provides ongoing political involvement training, a political action committee and lobby day for members who choose to become actively involved in the political process. From the Legislative Alert Network (LAN) to www.TeachtheVote.org, ATPE gives you the tools you need to stay informed.

Resources
ATPE provides professional news and resources to members through the quarterly magazine ATPE News, the e-newsletter Essentials and atpe.org, a website that hosts a myriad of information, including free professional development and classroom tools such as the ATPE Book of the Month Club and Guest Reader program. Plus, new and veteran teachers alike can benefit from participating in the ATPE Idea Exchange, an online forum where educators can share ideas and concerns and participate in the ATPE Book Circle to earn continuing professional education (CPE) credit.

In addition to these education-related resources, ATPE members enjoy many valuable discounts at establishments nationwide.

Starting in the 2013-14 membership year, ATPE will also offer a Teacher Support Program—more details to come!

How is ATPE different from the other educators’ organizations?
ATPE’s unique philosophy distinguishes it from all other organizations. As a professional association, ATPE believes it takes everyone working together to improve Texas public schools. This collaborative philosophy is evident in our legislative program and diverse membership that includes all types of public school employees. Also, ATPE maintains affordable dues while offering the best benefits package.

TSTA
The Texas State Teachers Association is affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA). TSTA touts a labor union philosophy and supports exclusive consultation and collective bargaining. TSTA/NEA dues can climb in excess of $460 per year. With TSTA’s membership declining in some parts of the state, the group has discussed a merger with Texas AFT at the state level. Some TSTA local affiliates have already merged with their local Texas AFT affiliates. TSTA has approximately 48,000 members.

Texas AFT
Texas AFT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and AFL-CIO. AFT and NEA have been working on a national merger of the two unions as well as a merger in Texas between the two state affiliates for several years. Texas AFT has spearheaded local mergers between the two unions and has encouraged local school boards to enter into union-style exclusive consultation arrangements in several school districts. Texas AFT’s annual dues can exceed $600.

If there is no organized local, Texas AFT offers a low-dues introductory membership. Once a local is organized, dues will rise to more than $400 per year.

Texas AFT has more than 64,000 members.

TCTA
The Texas Classroom Teachers Association is not affiliated with any national organization. TCTA membership is limited to certified professional personnel (excluding administrators) and certified support personnel. The group’s philosophy is that administrators’ interests are inherently adverse to those of other educators. TCTA has approximately 50,000 members. Current professional state dues are $140.

UEA
The United Educators Association Inc. is a for-profit organization whose members are concentrated in the Fort Worth area. Its annual professional dues can be as much as $225. UEA has more than 20,000 members.

TACS
The Texas Association of Community Schools is an association of more than 700 small, rural and mid-sized school districts that each have only one high school. The school district is considered the member. Employees of member districts can pay a reduced rate for limited liability and employment rights insurance, but these employees have no other substantive member benefits or representation.

I already belong to a professional association specific to my content area. Why should I also join ATPE?
ATPE membership, which includes access to an array of benefits, is an excellent complement to membership in any content-area association. Some content-area associations include legal protection as a membership benefit or offer it for an additional cost. None of their benefit offerings are as generous or as broad as ATPE's. If your content-area association membership does include legal protection, be sure to compare the benefits to determine if a dual membership would be beneficial to your career. If your content-area association membership does not include legal protection, it is especially important for you to join a group like ATPE. No public school employee should be without protection on the job.

Groups that do NOT offer legal protection*

TCTELA—Texas Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts
TCTM—Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics
TAGT—Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented
TGCA—Texas Girls Coaches Association
TASA—Texas Association of School Administrators

Groups that offer OPTIONAL legal protection*

TCEA—Texas Computer Education Association
TMEA—Texas Music Educators Association
TLA—Texas Library Association
TCA—Texas Counseling Association
THOA/ACTE—Texas Health Occupations Association/Association for Career and Technical Education
THSCA—Texas High School Coaches Association
FCSTAT—Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers Association of Texas
TBTEA—Texas Business and Technology Educators Association
CTAT—Career and Technology Association of Texas

Groups that INCLUDE legal protection with membership*

TASSP—Texas Association of Secondary School Principals
TEPSA—Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association
VATAT—Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas

* Information is current as of October 28, 2013

I am a retired educator. Why should I join ATPE?
ATPE’s retired memberships are an affordable way ($10 annual dues) for retired educators to stay in touch with their profession and support the efforts of current public educators. Retired members receive the quarterly magazine ATPE News and the e-newsletter Essentials, publications that keep them up-to-date on the latest Texas public education news. ATPE lobbies the Legislature and Congress on issues of concern to retired educators, such as cost-of-living increases for retired Teacher Retirement System (TRS) members and Social Security offset provisions. Retired members advocate for public education as members of the ATPE Legislative Alert Network, and they may participate in ATPE state events such as ATPE Lobby Day and the ATPE Summit.

In addition, retired members have access to ATPE’s services and discounts, which provide valuable opportunities to save money on prescription drugs, hotel stays, car rentals, long-term care insurance and more. Plus, retired members have access to optional benefits such as prepaid legal services, savings on dental and vision services, and guaranteed-issue accident insurance.***

How are ATPE’s dues more cost effective than other associations’ dues?
ATPE is not affiliated with any national organization; therefore, our members do not pay any national dues. As a Texas educator, you can be assured that your ATPE dues dollars will stay in Texas. ATPE prides itself on providing Texas educators with the most comprehensive benefits package at the best value. As a nonprofit organization governed by members, ATPE membership dues are reviewed and set by ATPE members at the annual ATPE Summit.

How do I know if my job qualifies me for ATPE membership?
ATPE welcomes anyone who is interested in public education to join, including public school educators, administrators, para-educators, retired educators and college students. However, only four membership categories—professional, first-time professional, associate and teacher trainee—are eligible for the professional liability and employment rights defense insured benefits* and assistance from staff attorneys.** The membership categories are defined in the ATPE State Bylaws. Click here for descriptions of all member categories. For additional assistance contact ATPE Member Services at (800) 777-ATPE (2873) or member_services@atpe.org.

Is there a deadline to join ATPE*?
No, but you should be familiar with some important dates. In general, for paper applications, your membership date is established when your application is received in the state office or when your application is received, signed and dated by a designated local unit representative. For online applications, your membership date is established at 12:01 a.m. CST on the date following successful transmission of your online application and payment at atpe.org.

When is coverage* effective?
Coverage begins on the later of Aug. 1, 2013, or your membership date and expires on Aug. 1, 2013, with two exceptions:

  • Coverage is effective on Aug. 1, 2013, if you renew your membership any time during August or September 2013.
  • Employment rights defense insurance is NOT effective until 30 days after your membership date if you join or renew after Sept. 30, 2013, and were eligible for membership from August 2013 through September 2013.

How do I know when I am a member?
You will receive a personalized membership card and a Quick-Start Guide in the mail within three weeks of state office receipt of your application. If you do not receive a card, you should contact ATPE Member Services at (800) 777-ATPE (2873) or member_services@atpe.org to request a replacement.

What are you waiting for? Join ATPE now!

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*THE EDUCATORS PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICY IS UNDERWRITTEN BY NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE CO. OF PITTSBURGH, PA. ALL COVERAGE IS SUBJECT TO THE EXPRESS TERMS OF THE MASTER INSURANCE POLICY ISSUED TO ATPE AND KEPT ON FILE AT THE ATPE STATE OFFICE. Coverage applies to an insured’s activities within his/her professional capacity and does not apply to activities that predate the coverage period. View a detailed summary. Eligibility for ATPE membership benefits is contingent upon ATPE’s receipt of the entire annual membership dues amount for your appropriate membership category. A disruption in payments to an authorized payment plan may result in discontinuation of such benefits, including cancellation of insurance coverage for the entire membership year retroactive to Aug. 1 or your membership date. ATPE reserves the right to determine the appropriate membership category. The ATPE membership year is from Aug. 1 to July 31.

**The insured member services and staff attorneys’ assistance are offered through separate programs.