ATPE at the Virtual Capitol

Legislative symposium and advocacy training event exclusively for ATPE members

1–6:15 p.m. February 28, 2021

All sessions are now available for archived viewing by those who registered to attend the event.

Log in below using your ATPE at the Virtual Capitol credentials to watch sessions on demand on the event streaming platform. These sessions will be available until March 28.

Download session handouts on the ATPE at the Virtual Capitol Resources page.

View ATPE's legislative priorities for the 87th Texas Legislative session.

Opening General Session

Opening General Session: ATPE Advocacy in the 2021 Legislative Session

ATPE’s lobbyists will provide an overview of our 2021 legislative priorities and the outlook for a legislative session unlike any other. Learn how to use ATPE’s resources to be an effective public education advocate this session, even in a virtual environment. Plus, hear a welcome message from a special invited guest.

Speakers: ATPE State President Jimmy Lee, ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes, Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell, Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter, Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier, Lobbyist Mark Wiggins, and Political Involvement Coordinator Edwin Ortiz

Concurrent Breakout Sessions – Block 1

Legislating for COVID-19: How Texas Lawmakers Should Address the Pandemic’s Changes to Teaching and Learning

ATPE state officers and lobbyists will discuss changes and difficulties the pandemic has created for public education, from remote learning challenges to health and safety concerns and more. Hear recommendations on how the Texas Legislature should address these changes.

Speakers: State President Jimmy Lee, State Vice President Karen Hames, State Secretary Stacey Ward, State Treasurer Jayne Serna, and State Past President Tonja Gray; Moderator: ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell

Understanding the Basics of Advocacy

Gain a basic understanding of the Texas legislative process (or brush up on the fundamentals if you are a veteran advocate). ATPE Lobbyists Mark Wiggins and Andrea Chevalier will help you learn the responsibilities of various entities involved in the creation and implementation of laws. Hear about state boards and agencies that regulate different aspects of public education. Also, find out which issues are subject to state versus federal oversight. This session will include an opportunity for live Q&A.

Speakers: ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier and ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins

Retirement and Health Care Legislation: The Outlook for TRS and Social Security

Pensions and health care coverage for educators are always a focus of ATPE’s lobbying efforts, both in Texas and in the nation’s capital. Hear the latest on Social Security legislation from David Pore, ATPE’s longtime federal contract lobbyist in Washington, D.C. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter will also discuss bills the Texas Legislature may consider this session related to the Teacher Retirement System and TRS health insurance plans. 

Speakers: David Pore, Partner, Hance Scarborough LLP, and ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter

Concurrent Breakout Sessions – Block 2

Federal Update: How Will Washington Address Education Issues in 2021?

Apart from Social Security, the U.S. Congress oversees federal funding and several education laws, including those containing federal requirements for student testing and accountability. The COVID-19 pandemic has also influenced legislation at the federal level. What lies ahead in Washington, D.C., and what changes are in store under a new presidential administration? ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell will interview federal lobbyist David Pore and take your questions about federal issues.

Speaker: David Pore, Partner, Hance Scarborough LLP; Moderator: ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell

School Finance: Paying for Schools and Educators

The Equity Center's Josh Sanderson and ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter will share a lesson on school finance basics, including the changes made last session through House Bill (HB) 3. Follow along in the "lightning round" to test your knowledge of school finance terms, then learn about recent changes to teacher compensation and the outlook for the Teacher Incentive Allotment. Hear about the funding challenges facing the Legislature this session as lawmakers try to preserve the gains made in 2019 while also dealing with a budget deficit and effects of the pandemic.

Speakers: ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter and Josh Sanderson, Deputy Executive Director, The Equity Center

The Future of Public Education

ATPE members and education leaders representing the full spectrum of teaching professionals will share thoughts on future public education challenges and opportunities in this roundtable discussion moderated by ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier. What can Texas legislators do to improve educator recruitment, preparation, and retention? How can educators use their experience and knowledge to influence education policy decisions? What does the research say we should expect, and how can we prepare for the future of public education in Texas?

Speakers: Rep. Mary González, Texas House District 75; Gail Adlesperger, teacher, Big Spring ISD; Scoie Green, teacher, Katy ISD; Laura Herrera, teacher, North East ISD; Rickey Townsend, teacher, Dallas ISD; and René Zúñiga, retired professor, McAllen. Moderator: ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier.

Closing General Session

Closing General Session: What Educators Can Expect from the 87th Legislature

A panel of influential state lawmakers will answer questions submitted by ATPE members and lobbyists about major education issues that the 87th Legislature will consider, including school funding, testing and accountability, virtual schooling, and more. Panelists include newly announced House Public Education Committee Chairman Harold Dutton. After the panel discussion, ATPE’s lobbyists will share their perspectives and answer your additional questions live.

Speakers: Sen. Beverly Powell, Texas Senate District 10; Rep. Harold Dutton, Texas House District 142; and Rep. Gary VanDeaver, Texas House District 1; Moderator: ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes

11th Annual PAC's Peak Challenge

The 11th Annual PAC's Peak Challenge is underway! The PAC's Peak Challenge is your opportunity to maximize your impact on the Texas Legislature. We're trying to raise $20,000 by May 31 to increase our ability to financially support pro-public education lawmakers who value your profession.

Your PAC helps support your profession, your association's principles, and public education as an institution. ATPE advocates for a comprehensive member-driven legislative program that includes enhanced benefits for educators and students, but we need the support of legislators and other elected officials to accomplish our priorities. With your investment today, ATPE-PAC will have the financial resources to help us influence future elections and fight for public education.

No donation is too small, and donations add up fast. Help our cause by contributing to our fundraising efforts today.

The ATPE Political Action Committee (ATPE-PAC) only solicits voluntary donations from ATPE members, employees, and their families. ATPE-PAC uses the funds raised to make contributions to officeholders/candidates who support your profession.