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January 22, 2015
El Paso to petition to leave statewide health insurance program
The El Paso ISD will petition the Teacher Retirement System to leave its statewide health insurance program because of rising costs to the district and employees.
"It's a hellhole if we don't," EPISD Board of Managers President Dee Margo said after the board's unanimous vote on the issue at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Read more from the El Paso Times article here: http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_27369315/episd-board-votes-get-out-health-insurance-program
January 21, 2015
Beaumont teachers fear job security in jeopardy
Beaumont Teachers Association is asking the board not to cut teacher contracts from two years to one. http://www.12newsnow.com/story/27899141/beaumont-isd-teachers-fear-their-job-security-is-in-jeopardy
January 20, 2015
Social Justice Patriot Award deadline: first Monday in March
This award recognizes Texas educators, TSTA local and regional associations, and other individuals or associations who are friends of education for distinguished service and contributions in promoting and/or encouraging professional and human rights activities. Return the nomination form to Social Justice Patriot Award Committee, c/o TSTA CEG, 316 West 12th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. http://tsta.org/sites/default/files/SocialJusticePatriotAwards_nom-info.pdf
January 15, 2015
TSTA member is national Teacher of the Year finalist
Shanna Peeples, an English teacher at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo ISD, has been named one of four finalists for the 2015 National Teacher of the Year! In October, she was named Texas Teacher of the Year. The other national finalists hail from Alabama, Hawaii, and Indiana. The 2015 National Teacher of the Year will be announced in April. http://www.tasanet.org/cms/lib07/TX01923126/Centricity/
January 9, 2015
Thorpe named Social Studies MS Teacher of the Year
Helene Thorpe, sixth-grade social studies teacher at Smylie Wilson Middle School in Lubbock ISD, was named the Texas Council for the Social Studies Middle School Teacher of the Year in late October. Nominees for the state award must develop original instructional material that demonstrate creativity and student engagement, incorporate research-based teaching strategies which foster a spirit of inquiry, develop critical thinking and incorporate technology. Additionally, nominees should model participation in the civic activities of the school and the community as well as professional involvement and leadership by sharing their expertise in workshops, curriculum development and membership in professional organizations. -- from the Lubbock ISD Reporter
Register today for NEA National Leadership Summit
Education leaders from across the country are invited to register for the second annual NEA National Leadership Summit. More than 1,500 educators will convene Feb. 27 through March 1 in Anaheim, California to discuss professional empowerment, teacher engagement, and techniques for academic improvement.
Members will participate in interactive discussions, workshops, and case studies and will return to their school districts with sustainable solutions, new skill sets, and action plans. The high-energy event features a keynote address by international education advisor Sir Ken Robinson whose TED talk on schools and creativity has drawn more than 29 million views to date. Register or find more information at http://www.nea.org/grants/60457.htm.
Nominations due for NEA Social Justice Activist Award
Each year, NEA will recognize one exceptional member who demonstrates the ability to lead, organize, and engage educators, parents, and the community to advocate on social justice issues that impact the lives of students, fellow educators, and the communities they serve.
The awardee will receive an all-expense paid trip to attend and address both the NEA Representative Assembly and the Joint Conference on Concerns of Minorities and Women. The winner will also be invited to attend Educator Empowerment Day as part of the pre-Representative Assembly activities. March 30 is the application deadline. Read more at http://www.nea.org/home/60579.htm.
How to prevail in this era of greed & privatization
“You never win in a confrontation by digging your head into the sand,” Diane Ravitch says. “Complacency is self-defeating. While you close your eyes to what is happening, the high-stakes testing will get worse, your community public schools will be closed, experienced teachers will be fired, and schooling will become a consumer choice, like buying milk at the grocery store (the analogy that Jeb Bush suggested at the Republican convention in 2012, that picking a school should be as easy as choosing between 1% milk, 2% milk, whole milk, chocolate milk, whatever).” Read more: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/12/03/how-to-survive-and-prevail-in-this-era-of-greed-and-privatization
Nearly half of teachers consider leaving over tests
What is it about standardized testing that makes it toxic to so many educators? NEA researchers polled 1,500 PreK-12 teachers and found four specific factors. They also found a teaching force so frustrated with the impact of testing on students and morale that they’re considering leaving the profession. http://neatoday.org/2014/11/02/nea-survey-nearly-half-of-teachers-consider-leaving-profession-due-to-standardized-testing
Banquet recognizes school employees
For the second year, Beaumont Teachers Association and Port Arthur Teachers Association hosted a banquet to honor school employees during American Education Week. See photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157648976979348 and video at http://youtu.be/Zoc3XSC6Inw.
How did you celebrate ESP Day?
Wednesday of American Education Week is ESP Day, and our locals in the Ysleta, Southwest, and Cy-Fair school districts celebrated.
Southwest TSTA welcomed NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, TSTA President Noel Candelaria and TSTA Vice President Ovidia Molina.
- Photos https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157649359268781
- Banquet photos https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157649353730826
- Storify https://storify.com/NEAToday/educator-for-a-day-in-san-antonio-texas
- Interview http://therivardreport.com/nea-president-interview/
Ysleta Teachers Association launched a fair pay campaign on National ESP Day at the Board of Trustees meeting. Their resolution was put on the agenda for the December meeting.
- Coverage in the El Paso Times http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_26974921/yisd-teachers-group-wants-pay-increases-all-employees
- Photos https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157649388101865
Cy-Fair TSTA/NEA members spoke at the school board meeting about the great education employees in the district.
Team building in Region 2D, training in Pt Arthur
Sixty members from Region 2D gathered in Marble Falls Nov. 14-16 for a weekend of leadership, learning, and fun; see https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157648946091328 for photos. In Port Arthur ISD, 30 teachers gathered for training on writing SMART goals; photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157647022995674.
Degrees Not Debt
TSTA-Student Program members at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and Brazosport College learned about NEA’s Degrees Not Debt campaign.
- 5 steps to kick student debt brochure: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/DND_5_Steps_Handout.pdf
- Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157647391836118
August 27, 2014
Mercedes bus drivers win pay hike
Mercedes bus drivers won a 3.5 percent pay increase at a school board meeting this week. Twenty-seven of the 30 drivers, community supporters, and local TSTA officers were at the meeting to show solidarity, and the media interviewed local president Maribel Gonzalez. The drivers are working with the superintendent to increase salaries further to compensate for increases in insurance costs.
August 20, 2014
Education Austin takes the ALS Challenge
At about 5 p.m. today in the TSTA parking lot, Education Austin leaders took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! See the photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157646668705282. Read more about ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge at http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html.
Back to school photos
What's your local association doing for membership and back-to-school events? See what other locals are doing at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157646620106576 and send your photos to email@example.com.
July 7, 2014
Two Texas ESPs elected to NEA Board
Texas is proud that two TSTA ESP members were elected to at-large positions on the NEA Board of Directors. Congratulations to Rae Nwosu and Karen Barnes of Education Austin!
July 3, 2014
Congratulations to EPTA for its national award!
TSTA is proud of the members and leaders of El Paso Teachers Association/TSTA/NEA for their work for social justice. Last night, they received the Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award at the NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner in Denver. Several members were present as EPTA President Norma De La Rosa received the award on behalf of the local. Here's what the NEA website says about EPTA:
True leaders rise to the occasion in times of crisis. That is precisely what the El Paso Teachers Association (EPTA) has done as the El Paso Independent School District struggles to regain the confidence of the public after a scandal.
In October 2012, the school district’s superintendent, Lorenzo García, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and was led off in handcuffs to serve three and a half years in federal prison. In an effort to inflate the district’s standardized test scores, meet the Adequate Yearly Progress requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law, and collect bonuses for improved test scores, García and some of his administrators, targeted Hispanic students in the lowest performing schools. Specifically, they put some students in the wrong grade, pushed some out of school, and prevented others from enrolling. Teachers or administrators who objected to Garciá’s scheme were either fired or demoted.
To re-engage the public and confront the challenges facing the district, the El Paso Teachers Association sponsored a public forum, which they called “Social Justice in Public Education: A Call to Action from Ground Zero.” They invited parents, students, educators and concerned community members and more than 400 people attended. For two days, some very difficult but necessary discussions were held, with special emphasis on meeting the needs of the most economically disadvantaged students, many of whom are English language learners in this border community.
Since the Social Justice in Public Education Forum, a Parent Task Force has gone door to door conducting interviews with parents. Among the questions on the survey: What needs to change, so that the public schools can serve your children better? The Task Force is also holding “reading circles” at three housing projects with parents. At the same time as it builds its membership, the EPTA is forging strong relationships with the community and rebuilding the public’s trust in El Paso’s public schools.
• Video: http://youtu.be/3OGOtleP4nc
• About the awards: http://www.nea.org/grants/58575.htm
July 5, 2014
Austin leader in video from the RA
For the first time, NEA live streamed parts of its Annual Meeting. In the video archive, you’ll find a clip from Empowered Educators Day that featured Education Austin Vice President Montserrat Garibay. http://www.gpsnetwork.org/welcome/ra2014/2014-nea-ra-live-stream-video-archive
July 1, 2014
Big win in Harlandale!
Thanks to the perseverance of Harlandale Education Association, teachers will receive a 4% pay increase on their salary step; transportation employees will receive 5.5% on the midpoint; and all other employees will receive a 4% on the midpoint. All employees will receive a $750 retention stipend.
HEA has been organizing around salaries and the extended teacher day since May. The district proposed a 3.5% raise and a $300 retention stipend. The superintendent proposed increasing the teacher workday 30 minutes without pay; thanks to HEA, instead of 30 minutes, teachers have 15 minutes added to their day, resulting in an 8 hour day instead of 7 hours and 45 minutes.
After four school board meetings, late night meetings with individual school board members, phone calls/texts to members, and emails to members, HEA claimed victory. Thank you to the HEA members who took time during their summer break to attend the school board meetings. In solidarity, we can achieve anything!
June 16, 2014
Training new leaders in the Rio Grande Valley
The Rio Grande Valley Leadership and Organizing Institute, held June 14 at Kennedy Elementary in Mercedes, was part of TSTA’s continuing effort to develop new leaders. There were 29 participants from La Joya, Edinburg, Donna, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Mercedes, Harlingen, Los Fresnos, and La Feria. The group is shown in the banner photo at the top of this page; see more photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157644793306210.
June 12, 2014
A big money effort, fueled by Houston billionaire and former Enron executive John Arnold and supported by the Dallas mayor, is trying to use home rule to pave the way for a hostile takeover of Dallas neighborhood schools. Arnold is the same hedge fund manager who is trying to destroy defined benefit pensions for teachers and public employees, along with his support for a charter takeover of New Orleans schools.
A group with a misleading name, “Save Our Public Schools (SOPS),” has secured the number of petition signatures required for the appointment of a charter commission, and the Dallas ISD School Board is appointing that commission while grappling with numerous legal problems raised by the lack of clarity in a statute that was adopted 19 years ago but has never been used.
• TSTA and NEA-Dallas have been working with the “Our Communities, Our Schools” coalition that includes the AFT Alliance, the NAACP, LULAC, and other community groups opposing home rule. TSTA staff and/or officers have attended five meetings in Dallas in support of NEA-Dallas efforts on this issue.
• TSTA has worked with NEA-Dallas to develop and distribute anti-home rule flyers and information to NEA-Dallas members and other Dallas ISD employees.
• TSTA has also alerted NEA to the need for funding should home rule go on the November ballot, and we are working with other potential funders to outline a campaign plan should one be necessary.
• TSTA is spending PAC funds for direct mail and calls in support of Joyce Freeman in the Dallas ISD District 6 School Board runoff. Freeman opposes home rule, and her opponent is supported by so-called “reformers.” Most observers see the outcome of this runoff as important to giving the home rule opposition much needed momentum.
• TSTA is considering the best timing for any appropriate legal action against the DISD home rule effort. AFT has filed suit against the appointment of a teacher member who may not have met the proper criteria for appointment, and TSTA is monitoring that action closely. May 20, 2014
San Marcos stands up for professional pay and affordable healthcare
On May 19, San Marcos Educators TSTA asked the SMCISD Board to work with them on our salary raise proposal. The budget will be decided during the summer. Follow the local association on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/texasstateteachersassociation/pages/San-Marcos-Educators-TSTA.
May 1, 2014
Retirement party for James Squires
From FBEA President TJ Baker: "TSTA & FBEA gave a farewell to James Squires for 25 years of dedicated service!
James' original membership started with the Laredo Union. James served as a dedicated teacher for Laredo ISD and Fort Bend ISD. Fast forward, with the same diligent, caring and passion, James brought his leadership to FBEA Union. In both unions, James served as Executive Officer on many levels. As the current president of FBEA - Fort Bend Education Association - I especially will truly miss him! James, thank you for all what you have done! Uplifting and inspiring all of us in some capacity."
April 14, 2014
Education support professionals hold statewide conference
Donna Schulze of Maryland, NEA’s National Education Support Professional of the Year, was the keynote speaker at TSTA’s Statewide ESP Conference, which followed the TSTA Convention. You can hear her comments at http://youtu.be/Jt78qcT_DVg. Participants attended sessions entitled Bullying: Kids Aren’t the Only Victims, I Am a Professional, and Respect: Making District Policy Work for You. See photos in TSTA's Flickr album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157643908249194.
April 8, 2014
NEA holds leadership training in San Antonio
More than 30 TSTA/NEA leaders from the San Antonio area attended a women's leadership training April 5. Presenters included Christian Clark, senior program coordinator of the Institute of Texan Cultures; Rita Haecker, TSTA president; Catherine Beane, Jill Showman, Corina Cortez, and Delia Garcia of NEA; Andy Hernandez of Methodist Health Care Ministries; and the Honorable Rebecca Viagran, Council Member District 3. See photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157643659187063.
March 29, 2014
Students volunteer to help school
Inspired by Outreach to Teach, the annual school clean up prior to the NEA Representative Assembly, the TSTA Student Program chapter at University of Houston at Clear Lake spent the day fixing up two classrooms at Lawhon Elementary in Pearland ISD (south of Houston). They raised $1000 for materials to fix up these classrooms and two others at Longfellow Elementary in Alvin ISD. See today's photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157643129656725.
March 25, 2014
We are energized by convention speakers, NEA Student Program Chair David Tjaden said at the TSTA Student Program Convention, but when we return home, we tend to forget everything we learned.
He urged leaders at the March 21-23 event to resist that tendency and use the information they received "to build and engage students on your campuses, build a stronger program, and build a stronger voice for future educators."
"We have the opportunity to say no longer are we going to let corporate interests or a politician’s agenda...tell us our schools are failing,” Tjaden said. “We are professionals, and we deserve to start being treated like it; we deserve to start being paid like it; and we deserve to start getting autonomy over our classrooms and our schools, because, darn it, we are great teachers."
More than 100 student leaders from colleges and universities across the state came to the Austin convention for professional development in legal rights, team building, classroom management, and technology in the classroom, and to elect officers to terms beginning July 15, as follows:
- Katie Bruno, state president
- Kaitlin Nickolas, state vice president
- Shelby Murphy, state secretary
- Shannen Miller, District 2 president
- Evelyn Flores, District 3 president
- Nicole Griffin, District 4 president
- Effy Stockton, District 5 president
- Brenda Vidana, District 6 president
In addition to Tjaden, the students heard speeches by TSTA President Rita Haecker and TSTA Vice President Noel Candelaria. At the Saturday night banquet, the following awards were presented:
- Outstanding Scrapbook: University of Houston-Clear Lake (large local) and TSTA-SP at San Jacinto College (small local)
- Outstanding T-Shirt: University of Houston-Clear Lake
- Local Excellence Award: University of Houston-Clear Lake
- Outstanding Local Student Leader: Katie Bruno, University of Houston-Clear Lake
- Outstanding CLASS Project: University of Houston-Clear Lake
- Outstanding Local Advisor: Dr. Jana Willis, University of Houston-Clear Lake
- Outstanding Newsletter: Texas A&M University
For more information on the Student Program, see http://tsta.org/for-members/affiliates/tsta-student-program.
February 27, 2014
Lubbock board approves 45 day nonrenewal language
On Feb. 27, Lubbock Educators Association President David Ring made a presentation to the Lubbock ISD school board about reinstating the 45 day nonrenewal language. This has been in the works for months with various meetings between LEA leaders, the superintendent, and board members. The vote was 5-0 in support of putting the language back in, and the superintendent thanked LEA publicly for working with him to get this back into policy.
February 16, 2014
Davis, Van de Putte visit with San Antonio area leaders
On Feb. 13, Sen. Wendy Davis was joined by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro at Leal Middle School in San Antonio’s Harlandale ISD to promote her plan to expand pre-K, support intensive reading programs in early grades, and foster community partnerships to give young Texans a “Great Start.” Also joining Davis were TSTA Vice President Noel Candelaria, San Antonio Alliance's Shelley Potter, and Harlandale Education Association's Cathy Stein. Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157640940477013
February 11, 2014
El Paso local wins Human and Civil Rights Award
Congratulations to the El Paso Teachers Association, winner of the Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award, given to an NEA local affiliate each year! Other 2014 NEA Human and Civil Rights Award winners are:
César Chávez Acción y Compromiso Human and Civil Rights Award – Dr. Rodolfo Acuña (CA)
Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award – Senator Daniel K. Akaka (HI)
George I. Sánchez Memorial Award – Mr. Daniel Rodriguez (AZ)
H. Councill Trenholm Memorial Award (Black) – Mr. Edward White (KY)
Leo Reano Memorial Award – Coeur d’Alene Tribe (ID)
Mary Hatwood Futrell Award – Miss Malala Yousafzai
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Award – Reverend Fred Lee Shuttlesworth (posthumously) (AL)
Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award – Mr. Evan Robbins (NJ)
Rosa Parks Memorial Award – Mrs. Coretta Scott King (posthumously) (GA)
Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award (Local Affiliate) – El Paso Teachers Association (TX)
SuAnne Big Crow Memorial Award – Mr. Jack Hishmeh (KS)
Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights – Mr. Tim Gill (CO)
All winners will be recognized at the annual NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner, July 2 in Denver, CO (just prior to the opening of the RA).
January 14, 2014
Building a relationship with their member of Congress
Congressman Pete Gallego visited with TSTA Region 1B this week. His aide, Mathew Hall, will be meeting with TSTA locals this month to continue the relationship with Gallego's office.
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