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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. 

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. 

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.

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 debbiem@tsta.org.

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

TSTA fighting home rule takeover of Dallas ISD

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

New officers, awards highlight student convention

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.

December 10, 2013

Conroe drive supports the troops

TSTA-Conroe organized a "Support the Troops Drive" this year. Conroe High School, Conroe Ninth Grade Campus, Peet Junior High, and Sally K. Ride Elementary worked hard to collect food, toiletries, supplies, money, and other items for our troops overseas. "'Tis the season to give, and the TSTA-Conroe board thanks everyone for their contributions towards this endeavor," TSTA-Conroe President Henry Adeoye said.

November 21, 2013

Honoring ESPs

TSTA education support professionals in Beaumont and Port Arthur talk about their work and their association in this new video compiled by TSTA staff member Kristi Taylor with contributions from Mark Maldonado and Deshaunta Kearns. It was shown on Wednesday during an American Education Week banquet honoring ESPs that was attended by TSTA President Rita Haecker and Vice President Noel Candelaria. The keynote speaker was Merwyn Scott, NEA director of minority community organizing & partnerships. http://youtu.be/orGqFmEYlSs

November 14, 2013

Del Valle leaders meet with NEA Vice President

On Nov. 12, members of the Del Valle Education Association met with NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who was in Austin to speak at the "Conversation about Education Reform and Accountability" at the University of Texas. In the banner photo above, Garcia is fourth from left. See http://www.tsta.org/news-center/education-news#lily for more about her visit to Texas.

November 8, 2013

College Station president wins award

Courtney Wellmann, president of the TSTA local in College Station, is one of 12 recipients of the 2013 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award. Wellman teaches English and journalism at College Station High School. She will receive $5,000 and her school will receive $500 to purchase instructional materials. http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/article_9cb8fa53-399c-53ce-8559-20aeda4d0751.html

November 4, 2013

Big win in Pflugerville!

Pflugerville ISD, acting on a Texas Association of School Boards recommendation, eliminated the salary schedule for employees in 2010, replacing it with a hiring placement schedule. The hiring placement schedule lacked transparency and resulted in veteran district employees being paid less than new employees with the same years of experience. Pflugerville Educators Association organized around this issue since the start of this school year, and secured a pretty amazing win at the end of October.

Here's the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdyS9bY8iXA

October 31, 2013

Watch these inspiring new videos

In a series of video clips, Carilu Hernandez, a second grade teacher in Harlandale ISD (San Antonio), comments on why she became a teacher and why it’s important for us to speak out and make sure our interests are represented at the local, state, and national levels. http://tsta.org/node/1180

October 14, 2013

Celebrating diversity in North East

North East Education Association hosted "Celebrating Diversity" to bring awareness of the need for all ethnicities to be involved with the work of the association. Members were asked to commit to helping get educator-friendly school board candidates elected to office this May. Members from North East, Harlandale, and Southwest were in attendance. Guest speakers were Delia Garcia, NEA senior liaison for the Latino American Community in the Office of Minority Community Organizing & Partnerships in the Center for Advocacy and Outreach; Marisa B. Perez, the District 3 State Board of Education member who now works as a governmental and community relations specialist for the district from which she proudly graduated, the San Antonio ISD; TSTA President Rita Haecker; NEEA President Selena Valdez; and Region 1B President Jessica Aragon. See photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157636551595745.

Cy-Fair moves to the next level

"Forgive me for bragging a little – OK, maybe a lot – but Cy Fair TSTA/NEA began this year with a brand new slate of officers, some new Executive Board members, and a fresh approach to unionism. Within a short amount of time, we’ve increased our social media presence with active Twitter and Facebook sites.  Our web page has been reconstructed with informative articles about our issues and goals, pictures of our members, and links to important documents; our web page is also available as a mobile app.  Our first newsletter, “Tex Messages,” went to press and was distributed to our membership. 

"We’ve established committees, and we’re focusing on engaging our younger members through committee chair appointments. Our participation in CFISD’s “Salute to the Stars” which funds student scholarships is a move toward our goal of more community involvement.

"Though shorthanded, with the help of some of our new members, we managed to have one of our most successful NEO’s ever, and our membership is growing.  We were proud to have five CFISD Trustees attend our “Back to School Social” which was enjoyed by an overflow crowd of members. As this year continues, we plan to work toward ensuring respect for all employees, pay increases to offset insurance costs, and other issues of importance to our members.

"I cannot praise our new officers and our Executive Board enough. They are an enthusiastic group who are committed to moving our organization to a new level.  Visit us at: cyfairtstanea.org." -- Mary Stoner, president, Cy Fair TSTA/NEA

October 2, 2013

A health care win in Ysleta

The actions of Ysleta Teachers Association have resulted in a much smaller increase in employee health care premiums.More than 300 employees came to a recent school board meeting to protest the proposed increase, which would have raised monthly payments by between $121 and $336. Under the new plan, payments will increase by $32 to $74.

“We are so happy with the outcome,” local president Arlinda Valencia said. “The new plan takes all employees into consideration and offers them a more affordable health plan for themselves and their families.”

Local advocacy 

• Patrick Harvey, director of affiliate and leadership development, reports that several TSTA locals have been hard at work on ongoing issues, including campaigns for health benefits and “No Pay for Test Scores” in El Paso ISD, a health care campaign in Beaumont, and work on education support professional issues in Del Valle.
• Pflugerville Educators Association signed up 42 new members at the district Professional Development Days, where PEA provided drinks and snacks.

Testimonial from Cy Fair: TSTA has 'punch'

“Several years ago the district started paying us later for our summer school teaching. Rather than get a pay check at the end of June like we previously had, all days in June and part of July were in the July 31 check. The rest came Aug. 31.
“This summer was worse. We were told that no one would receive any pay till Aug. 15 and Aug. 31. I needed the money for a bill that was due. I only make a third of my normal salary for summer school, but it's the best thing I can do to supplement my income.

“I asked my summer school principal if he'd talked to anyone, and he said that he had, and he didn't know what else to do. I wrote a lady in secondary curriculum to say it was not fair to the teachers, and I was not sure it was legal (we began on June 17, and we weren't going to be paid till Aug. 15). I also suggested that when they debriefed for summer school, that they talk about this. She agreed.
“Toward the end of summer school, we got a letter saying that we would get the pay for the first session on Aug. 8.  While it was just a week earlier, it still made it easier for a lot of people to go on vacation, etc. My principal said I was the one, with my TSTA reputation, that made it happen. He was quite elated, and it was worth a high five for us.
“I realized that my TSTA reputation had some punch, so to speak.  If I hadn't had the TSTA experience I would never have had the nerve to say anything, let alone write letters.” -- Frances Smith, Cy Fair TSTA/NEA

September 27, 2013

Pflugerville continues work to make salaries competitive

Pflugerville EA held a meeting Monday to continue work on their organizing campaign to restore the employee salary schedule in PISD and to adjust employee compensation to make PISD competitive with neighboring districts. The local is on the agenda for the Oct. 17 school board meeting, where they will make a presentation to the board of trustees on the salary issue. Also, Celia Israel, who is running for election to Mark Strama's vacated seat in the House of Representatives, stopped by to share information on her campaign with members.

September 23, 2013

Harlandale local works for quality schools

Harlandale EA helped Harlandale ISD by block walkibg to put out signs with a pro-public education message in response to the new IDEA charter school in Harlandale. The local also has new HEA T-shirts with a "For Quality Public Education Choose Harlandale Schools" message.

September 16, 2013

Tools to help educators and parents work together for kids

Educators and parents are the most important adults in a child’s life. That's why NEA members throughout the nation are working closely with parents to ensure our students succeed. Working with the National PTA, NEA has produced brochures with practical tips and tools for parents to encourage student success in school. You can download the brochures or order up to 10 copies of each at no charge. http://www.nea.org/parents

September 10, 2013


Don't forget TSTA has a Flickr photo account, accessible by clicking on the blue-and-pink dot icon at the bottom of tsta.org. Recent additions include fall 2013 local membership events and a meeting of our TSTA Student Program members at Texas Tech University. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets

August 22, 2013

Edgewood featured in NEA media

The story appears on the cover of the latest issue of NEA Today magazine, which is being mailed to members this week. The title is, What’s Her Number? Zip Codes Tell Us A Lot About Public School Quality. It's also featured online at http://neatoday.org/2013/08/22/whats-her-number-what-zip-codes-tell-us-about-public-school-quality.

Fort Bend honors superintendent

Representatives of the Fort Bend Education Association (FBEA) presented Charles Dupre, Fort Bend ISD superintendent of schools, with an award on August 8 in appreciation of his dedication and commitment to the students and staff of Fort Bend ISD. FBEA is an affiliate of the Texas State Teachers Association, which works to unite, organize and empower public education advocates to shape public education in Texas and provide a quality public school experience for every child. Presenting the award were T.J. Baker, FBEA president and paraprofessional at Lake Olympia Middle School, and Anastasia Hay-Shelton, FBEA secretary and math teacher at Garcia Middle School. -- from a school district press release

August 20, 2013

Check out these photos!

Don't forget TSTA has a Flickr photo account, accessible by clicking on the blue-and-pink dot icon at the bottom of tsta.org. Recent additions are from fall 2013 local membership events and a meeting of our TSTA Student Program leaders
at TSTA Headquarters in Austin. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets.

August 12, 2013

New education employees are joining TSTA

At events throughout the state, new teachers and education employees are signing up with TSTA/NEA. Sign up online at www.mytsta.org.

August 8, 2013

Big win for Laredo United

Laredo United won a 6 percent salary increase for teachers and paraprofessionals; a 3 percent salary increase to administration based on the average, baseline salary for 2012-2013; plus a $500 bonus to campus principals, and a $5 increase per day for substitutes.

LISD trustees also approved a 6 percent raise for hourly employees and raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 (employees will get the higher of the two). And LISD absorbed the health insurance increase! Employees on the high plan would have paid $1,779.24 extra for the 2013-2014 school year.

Finally, teachers got a step increase (based on the 2012-2013 salary schedule) added to their salary (TRS earnings), and the difference up to $2,500 in a one-time bonus check paid out in November. The “bumps” are different depending on the years of experience. For example, a one-year teacher gets $100 added to the salary (plus $2,400 bonus check), while a three-year teacher gets $1,742 added to the salary (plus a $758 bonus check). -- reported by Ernest Davila

July 16, 2013

Del Valle TSTA wins affordable health care

Thanks to the lobbying and organizing efforts of the Del Valle Education Association, on July 16 the school board voted to increase the district contribution to employee health insurance premiums from $325 to $529 per month. This means employees will be saving $2400 in the 2013-14 school year. In addition, employees of the district received a 3 percent midpoint raise. DVEA members turned out for the May, June, and July school board meetings to demand affordable health care, and more than a dozen spoke on the issue. The local also petitioned  the school board through change.org, with over one third of district employees signing the petition. July 16th was a great night for the local association, once again showing the power of collective action.

July 8, 2013

Blogging from Brazil

Loryn Windwehen of San Antonio is one of the NEA Foundation's Global Learning Fellows. Read her blog about her experience visiting Sao Paulo schools during the study-tour. http://www.neafoundation.org/blog/blogging-brazil-2

June 24, 2013

Update: Laredo United wins fight for salary, health insurance help

Laredo United is fighting for salary increases and help with rising health insurance premiums in United ISD, where salaries have been frozen for three years. Local Vice President Alejandra Lightner, member Edna Flores Olmeda, and City Councilman Charlie San Miguel spoke at the June 19 school board meeting; the local presented the board with 500 postcards from members; member Yolanda Varela, who works in food service, was interviewed by Univision; an article about trustee Jose Valdez's efforts to help was published in the Laredo Morning Times, as was a letter to the editor; and the local association was interviewed by KGNS TV.

UPDATE on 6/26/13: LISD employees win raising the minimum wage up to $9 an hour for all employees, AND the employer contribution increased from $265 to $320. Monthly premiums at some tiers will actually go down. For employee/family, the increase is $16. This will offset with the salary percentage increase and the teacher step increase to be determined on July 11.

Del Valle Education Association wins affordable health care

Del Valle Education Association has once again delivered a great win for district employees: on June 18, the Del Valle ISD Board of Trustees voted to amend the budget to fully fund the employee only TRS Active Care Plan 2 premium for the 2013-2014 school year. (Photo at the top of the page.)

“The initial district decision to adopt TRS Active Care and cover the premium cost of only the High Deductible Plan 1 was a devastating economic blow to all employees, but especially to support staff who struggle to make a living wage," DVEA President Michelle Cardenas said. "Now, with the district planning to fund the whole premium of TRS Active Care Plan 2, affordable healthcare is back.”

DVEA members turned out en masse at the May and June school board meetings to demand affordable health care, and more than a dozen spoke on the issue. The local also presented the school board with a petition signed by over 500 employees who were outraged that affordable health care would no longer be within reach.

DVEA wishes to publicly thank the four school board members who secured passage of the amendment: Ann Heuberger, former TSTA vice-president; Rebecca Birch; Debbie Russell; and Susanna Woody. See photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157634309574024.

Dripping Springs educator to receive national award

Marisa Maher, a business teacher and coach at Dripping Springs High School in Dripping Springs, is one of 36 recipients of the California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence, one of the nation’s most prestigious honors for public school educators.

She will be honored at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala Feb. 7 in Washington, D.C. Known as the Academy Awards of public education, the gala attracts the nation’s leaders from public education, philanthropy, and the private sector.

Each awardee’s school will receive a $650 award. From the 36 state awardees, five finalists will be selected to receive $10,000 cash awards. At the conclusion of the awards gala, one finalist will be named the nation’s top educator and receive an additional $25,000. 

The NEA Foundation is a public charity supported by contributions from educators' dues, corporate sponsors, and others. It supports student success by helping public school educators work with key partners to build strong systems of shared responsibility. Read more at www.neafoundation.org.

June 3, 2013

Education Austin sponsors immigration forum

Thousands of children in Austin schools are from immigrant families who wrestle daily with a confusing array of regulations and choices that affect their work and living environments. A family’s ability to navigate this maze of regulations can directly impact a student’s educational opportunities.

Education Austin co-sponsored a community forum for immigrant families on June 1 from 1-5 p.m. at Mendez Middle School. The event included workshops on immigration reform, how to become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process, how to obtain special visas and other government permits, and how to obtain help with everyday living needs.

More than 25 nonprofit agencies provided information about their services. They included Safe Place, American Gateways, Foundation Communities, Manos de Cristo, the Mexican Consulate, Growing Roots, Health Window, LifeWorks, Bernardo Kohler and American Youth Works.

The event was made possible through a grant from the National Education Association – which supports comprehensive immigration reform – and the collaboration of the Austin Public Library, American Gateways, the Mexican Consulate, the Workers Defense Project, the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition and the University Leadership Initiative.

The vast majority (71 percent) of undocumented immigrants in the United States have relatives who are citizens, according to a recent poll by Latino Decisions. Immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship would benefit many of these families.

May 31, 2013

Books Build Character needs your help

San Antonio Alliance has partnered with First Book, a nonprofit that connects book publishers with community organizations to provide new books to children in need; see www.firstbook.org. There is an article about the campaign in the Summer Advocate. If you would like to help Books Build Character provide books for students, please contact Gracie Oviedo at gracieo@sanantonioalliance.org.

May 22, 2013

DVEA demands help with health insurance

Over 50 Del Valle Education Association members turned out to the school board meeting on May 21 to highlight concerns over the recently adopted TRS health insurance. Eight DVEA members addressed the board during public forum to demand that the district increase its contribution to employee health insurance premiums.

May 7, 2013

As the school year draws to a close...

TSTA's local associations are celebrating another successful year of preparing students for a great future. The Harlandale local held an end-of-year party. See photos at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157633432925345.

April 23, 2013

Pflugerville block walks for school board candidates

Pflugerville Education Association members block walked this weekend for their endorsed school board candidates, Mario Acosta and Carol Fletcher (see photo in banner above). Members volunteered time on Saturday and Sunday to speak with voters in Pflugerville.

April 18, 2013

San Marcos hosts candidate forum

San Marcos Educators/TSTA hosted a candidate forum at the public library on April 16. Both candidates attended, as well as a representative in support of the bond proposal for the district. Members listened to the candidates' visions for San Marcos CISD and had an opportunity to ask questions. After the forum, San Marcos TSTA members voted to endorse Dr. Michelle Hamilton for SMCISD Board of Trustees. See photos on TSTA's Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157633271626969. Update -- see a related newspaper article here:

Judson scores school board candidates

Judson Education Association members scored school board candidates running in three races. While there are four seats up for election, one member is unopposed. JEA interviewed six candidates for the three open seats, three of whom were incumbents. Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157633278392251.

April 10, 2013

Local association news

What's going on in your local association? Send us an email and we will post it here. Contact debbiem@tsta.org.

Clear Lake student member honored

Dare Rodriguez has received the Local Outstanding Officer Award from her TSTA Student Program (TSTA SP) chapter. According to a release from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, "Rodriguez was recognized by association officials for her dedication and commitment to the organization, which included recruiting and mentoring new members and leading the chapter to be one of the fastest growing and most recognized in the state."

Pictured in the banner photo above, holding her certificate and glass award, is Rodriguez with (left to right) Clinton Gill, TSTA SP liaison; Brandon Swaringim, TSTA SP state president; Rita Haecker, TSTA president; and Noel Candelaria, TSTA vice president.

April 4, 2013

ESPs support Edinburg member

This week, the Edinburg school board heard a level 3 grievance from one of our members, Alfredo Soto, who told the board he had been subjected to retaliation and attempted intimidation as a result of speaking up on issues of concern to employees. The Valley ESP Respect campaign put out the call to activists from across the Valley to attend the meeting to show support for Alfredo. Over 40 members showed up in support, as shown in the photo in the Locals box on the home page.

March 27, 2013

Killeen local hosts school board forum

Killeen Educators Association sponsored a forum Tuesday night to allow voters to hear the views of candidates running for the Killeen ISD school board. TSTA President Rita Haecker and Vice President Noel Candelaria attended. Among the topics discussed: longevity pay, school security and arming teachers, staffing allocations, testing, and school funding.

March 4, 2013

Fostering a love of reading in Region 3D

Region 3D retired member Joanne Peschel loves participating in NEA's Read Across America. Each year, her region collects books, donates them to disadvantaged schools, and reads to students in the Klein, Spring, and Aldine ISDs. "The schools are selected because of their need and because we know someone at the school who is willing to coordinate the reading schedule," said Peschel, who has supported Read Across America from its beginning 16 years ago, when she was still teaching and working with a Future Teachers of America club.

Region 3D members are asked to donate 10 or more new or gently used books. "We know we are going to do this every year, and everyone donates what they can. They collect the books throughout the year from resale stores, garage sales, book sales, and from friends whose children have grown. We especially like the Dr. Seuss books, and so do the children."

She said the schools are grateful for the donations and for the time members spend reading to students. "That's why we do it," she said, and she offered other locals a tip:  "We always go on the Friday closest to Dr. Seuss's birthday, because schools are not testing on Fridays."

February 28, 2013

Socorro celebrates Read Across America

Socorro ISD students are celebrating NEA’s Read Across America, the annual campaign to focus attention on the importance of reading, with videos. Videos of community leaders -- including the mayor, school board officers, and Univeristy of Texas-El Paso athletes -- are featured on the district’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/SocorroISD.

January 24, 2013

Examining social injustice in public education

In January, 400 educators, legislators, and community members participated in a forum organized by the El Paso Teachers Association to solve problems caused budget cuts and high stakes tests. Read more at http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_22407552/forum-tackles-how-combat-testing-regime. Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nea-hq/sets/72157632587840526 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157632596967110.

January 23, 2013

Del Valle wins on contract renewal notification issue

Thanks to the lobbying and organizing efforts of the Del Valle local, the school board on Jan. 22 voted unanimously to create a local board policy which provides teachers a written guarantee that they will be notified regarding contract renewal/non-renewal at least 45 days before the last day of instruction. Previously, the policy did not contain the 45-day language and only stated renewal notification would be ”in accordance with law.” Consequently, when state law changed, permitting districts to give just 10 days' notification prior to the last day of instruction, teachers were left vulnerable. Several activists from the TSTA local spoke at the board meeting.

January 22, 2013

Brownsville reps invited to SBOE swearing in

On Jan. 15, Ruben Cortez was sworn in as a State Board of Education member by his mother, Justice of the Peace Linda Salazar, at Porter High School, his alma mater. Association of Brownsville Educators (AOBE) members were very involved in his election. Cortez said that he has been reaching out to Valley superintendents and school officials in an effort to give the region a strong voice on the board. His district includes the Valley counties following the Gulf Coast through Corpus Christi and Victoria to Matagorda County, encompassing 17 counties in all. AOBE staff members Tom Puntureri and Lucy Reza-Morales were invited to the swearing-in ceremonies. See photos of the swearing-in and other AOBE activities at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tstapublicaffairs/sets/72157632587057148.

January 18, 2013

Intergenerational Mentoring Program launches in Houston

On January 4-5, TSTA-Student Program and TSTA-Retired met at the University of Houston-Clear Lake to be trained on the Intergenerational Mentoring Program. Students from UHCL and retired members from the Houston area were paired by former NEA staff member Gene Grooms. Both the student and retired members were enthusiastic about the training and have already planned many activities throughout the spring semester.

"This pilot project, made possible through an NEA grant, is the first in Texas that will help mentor our future teachers during their last years in college and their first few years of teaching," Clinton Gill, staff liaison to the Student Program, said. "Research shows that many new teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and it is our hope this program will reverse the trend by providing a support network to new teachers. TSTA-SP and TSTA-R look forward to expanding the program in future years at other universities in the state."

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