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Port Arthur's 'Project Power'
Port Arthur Teachers Association brought David Banner – a rapper, actor, philanthropist, and activist – to Port Arthur ISD to speak with students and be the guest speaker at a Jan. 21 banquet. The event was part of the three-year “Project Power” grant initiative, a collaboration of PATA and the school district. Banner spoke about the importance of listening to students, the impact we can have on their lives if we love them where they are, and replacing zero tolerance with restorative practices. Attending the banquet were TSTA Pres. Noel Candelaria and Exec. Dir. Richard Kouri, the mayor, superintendent, and several school board members. Impressed with the local’s actions, thirty-six additional employees joined Team TSTA. (See earlier post below for more about PATA's grant; photos of the banquet on Flickr.)
PATA wins a grant
Port Arthur Teachers Association was awarded a Great Public Schools (GPS) grant in the amount of $90,000 over a three-year period to provide support for early educators, leadership development for leaders within the school community, professional development, and outreach to build and strengthen community structures. The grant is a continuation of the GPS grant PATA received last year to develop effective professional development practices in the district and can be renewed to help sustain the programs in the grant.
Laredo-United TSTA speaks out
Laredo United TSTA is speaking out against District of Innovation and urging teachers and public to attend the Laredo ISD meeting on November 29.
Edgewood holds a voter registration drive
The Edgewood Classroom Teachers Association set up a table at two home football games in October to encourage parents to get involved in their children’s education and register to vote. The TSTA local association has set as its goals for 2016-17 increasing community involvement and improving the schools’ teaching and learning environment. ECTA obtained permission from Edgewood ISD to set up a table near the stands at the games, where they passed out 250 pamphlets that introduced ECTA and offered 10 tips on how parents can help their children be successful in school; “I love teachers” stickers; and more than 50 voter registration cards.
Austin children win recess
Education Austin – and all children in Austin ISD – had a win in October when the school board passed a new recess policy, to be implemented by January 2017. The language, as agreed to in consultation, says, "Students in full-day pre-kindergarten through grade 5 shall participate in daily unstructured physical activity for 30 minutes throughout the school year, as part of a campus’ daily recess. Implementation of 30 minutes of unstructured recess time each day is in addition to the 135 minutes of structured physical activity."
Candelaria delivers keynote in Socorro
TSTA President Noel Candelaria delivered a keynote speech focused on family, hard work, and helping others at the annual Father-Son Conference in Socorro ISD. Boys in grades 6-12 and their dads attended the event, which carried a theme of “Building Ties,” at Montwood High School. More than 300 people participated in workshops, demonstrations, and one-on-one sessions designed to strengthen family bonds and improve learning and teaching skills.
Members speak at USDOE symposium
Austin members Rodrigo Rodriguez-Tovar and Zenaida Alvarez were invited to share their perspectives at a multiliteracy and dual language symposium sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.
Ysleta win demonstrates importance of school board elections
Next May, the Ysleta Teachers Association (YTA) and several other TSTA locals will be endorsing and supporting school board candidates. YTA’s success in May 2015 illustrates why these elections can make a very real difference.
After more than a decade, YTA won a landmark victory in October on behalf of educators who were denied a $2,500 pay raise in 2006. More than 100 educators were at the top of the Ysleta ISD pay scale when the legislature mandated an increase for all Texas educators – and YISD restructured its formula for paying teachers. The turning point in this decade-long fight was the May 2015 school board election, in which YTA worked to elect two candidates and reelect another, winning all three positions on the ballot.
YTA President Arlinda Valencia said the local association, TSTA, and NEA were relentless in fighting the injustice by filing a grievance, then representing members before the commissioner of education and, later, a court in Austin. But it was YTA's work on behalf of school board candidates that finally made the difference, TSTA President Noel Candelaria, who was president of YTA in 2006, said.
“Our involvement in the political process is no accident. We understand that the power of the people is in the hands of those we elect to public office,” he said. “We exercised our power to organize our members, parents, and the community to help elect a school board majority that respects and values the voice of the professionals. This board majority understands that you can’t advocate for children in our schools if you don’t also advocate for the adults who work with them every day.”
“This was not just about the salary they were due, it was about respecting and honoring a lifelong commitment to our district and every student those educators impacted in their careers,” Candelaria added.
Valencia thanked Board President Shane Haggerty “for being a great advocate for this cause,” Superintendent Dr. Xavier De La Torre “for using his great leadership skills in attempting to engage all parties,” and board members Connie Woodruff, Mike Rosales, Sotero Ramirez and Ana Duenez for voting for the settlement.
Due process: we’re on a roll!
From the Rio Grande Valley to the Panhandle, TSTA locals are winning due process rights for bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and other support staff, employment rights similar to those already enjoyed by teachers.
School board policies providing that employees cannot be fired without just cause or reassigned without a stated reason were adopted in at least three districts this summer – McAllen, Donna, and Brownsville, all in the Valley – and a more limited policy was adopted in Amarillo. TSTA members were instrumental in these victories.
At least four other TSTA locals – in Mercedes, Port Arthur, Laredo, and San Antonio ISD – will launch due process campaigns during the 2016-17 school year. Mercedes already has made a due process presentation to the school board, which had not acted on it by press time.
Due process is a matter of respect for all school workers, said Donna TSTA/NEA President Linda Estrada, a campus secretary at Runn Elementary School.
“Our schools couldn’t function without teachers’ aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries, custodians, and all the other people it takes to run a school,” she said.
“TSTA local affiliates will continue working with administrators and school boards to recognize that education is a team effort driven by the contributions all school employees make to a student’s success,” TSTA President Noel Candelaria added.
The Amarillo ISD school board didn’t adopt the entire policy that the Amarillo Education Association sought, but it improved employee rights. The board made it clear that at-will workers are entitled to a grievance procedure for termination and other personnel issues, and it increased the amount of time an at-will employee has to request a review of a dismissal from two days to five days.
The local’s next step is to convince board members to adopt a progressive discipline policy, which would guarantee support staff a multi-step, formal disciplinary procedure, including warnings, before a worker could be fired.
“We’re pushing hard. Due process is our main goal,” said Debbie England, a special education paraprofessional at Coronado Elementary and treasurer of the TSTA local.
Aaron Phillips, a kindergarten teacher at Coronado, believes England and the other at-will workers on his campus should have the same employment rights he does as a professional.
“I couldn’t do my job without the help and backing I get from ESPs,” Phillips said. “They are often underpaid and overworked. It’s a matter of respect.”
Phillips, a member of the Amarillo Education Association’s executive board, said the local will make due process an issue in school board elections next May and already has recruited a candidate for one board seat.
Education Austin, a merged TSTA-Texas AFT local, won due process rights for support staff in Austin ISD in January 2010. Similar victories were later won by TSTA locals in the Fort Worth and Del Valle ISDs.
July 19, 2016
Amarillo ISD extends rights of at-will workers
Amarillo ISD's Board of Trustees reworked an employment policy for at-will workers Tuesday night, dealing a minor victory to a local teacher’s association campaigning to ensure due process for all school employees. Read more here.
July 7, 2016
NEA honors Austin educators for commitment to immigrant families
One of 13 honorees at NEA's Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner was Education Austin. With a $40,000 NEA grant, the local launched a yearlong campaign to inform immigrants about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the executive action taken by President Obama to keep long-term undocumented immigrants from being deported and families from being separated. Despite the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling - a setback for immigration advocates - Education Austin has pledged to pursue all political and legal avenues to keep children in school and united with their families. Learn more in a video hosted by President Candelaria.
TSTA members elected at NEA RA
NEA-Dallas member Dale Kaiser was elected by acclamation to an administrator at-large position on the NEA Board of Directors, and Kevin Jackson from Judson Education Association, Susan Seaton from San Marcos Educators, and Sheila Walker from NEA-Dallas were elected to the NEA Resolutions Committee.
June 21, 2016
Another due process win!
Today, another TSTA local, Association of Brownsville Educators, secured due process for education support professionals in their school district. They posted the following on Facebook: "We want to thank Dr. Zendejas, School Legal Counsel, and the School Board Members for taking time to meet with the AOBE/TSTA/NEA Leaders & Staff individually for presentations on Due Process. TSTA has been advocating for Due Process across the state & now Brownsville is glad to have it approved in policy as it was done in McAllen ISD & Donna ISD in the last few weeks. Most importantly we want to thank our members that came to tonight's meeting and members that also signed petitions to show support for Due Process."
June 7, 2016
Donna TSTA/NEA wins due process
At tonight's meeting of the Donna ISD school board, due process was approved as proposed by Donna TSTA/NEA! It was the culmination of three years of organizing by officers and leaders. The room was packed with members and media — channels 4, 5, Fox 2, Telemundo 40, and Univision, plus the local newspaper, the Monitor.
May 27, 2016
Esperanza Orosco, past president of Hays Educators Association (HEA), was chosen to serve on the Hays CISD school board by almost two-thirds of voters on May 7.
She was endorsed by HEA, which engaged members in support of her campaign. TSTA PAC worked with the local to develop and target mail, campaign literature, and phone calls on Orosco’s behalf.
Orosco has been an articulate, outspoken champion of public education for many years, and as TSTA local president from 2006-12, she spearheaded a number of successful organizing campaigns in Hays, including a living wage for ESPs, teacher contract language, teacher contract renewal timelines, and a Hays County Day of Action to protest the education cuts of 2011.
May 24, 2016
McAllen TSTA President Eloy Lopez and TSTA staff member Jeannette Garcia-Avila report that after two reviews and several discussions over the last two months, the McAllen ISD board of trustees approved 7-0 McAllen TSTA’s version of the progressive discipline process for all at-will employees.
“This has truly been a team effort between Board President Sam Saldivar and us,” Garcia-Avila said. “I am beyond excited since this is the first district in the valley area to approve it. My hope is that once the surrounding districts hear of this, they, too, will follow. I want to thank my colleagues Jason Wylie and Julissa Herrera who assisted me with this process.”
May 20, 2016
Laredo employees win $4.4 million in salary increases
Laredo United TSTA/NEA reports that on May 19, Laredo ISD approved a step increase plus a $750 raise for teachers, a four percent raise for paraprofessionals, and a two percent raise for administrators. The district also absorbed an increase in health insurance costs.
And the top membership awards go to...
The 12 local associations winning TSTA’s top membership awards this year were Pflugerville Educators Association, Education Austin, Laredo United TSTA/NEA, Southside Education Association, San Antonio Alliance, Beaumont Teachers Association, Pasadena Educators Association, Edgewood Classroom Teachers Association, Ysleta Teachers Association, San Marcos TSTA, Ector County TSTA/NEA, and Donna TSTA/NEA.
Other awards presented during the 2016 House of Delegates in El Paso:
- Ermalee Boice Instructional Advocacy Award: Susan Lynn Bodet, North East Education Association
- Ronnie Ray ESP of the Year for 2015-16: Yvonne "Bonnie" Najera, Socorro Education Association
- Friend of Education: Junior League of Lubbock
- Pride in Communications: Killeen Educators Association, Association of Brownsville Educators, Lubbock Educators Association, Cy-Fair TSTA/NEA
- School Bell Awards for outstanding work by the media: El Paso Times, Texas Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Amarillo Globe-News, Killeen Daily Herald, KXAN-TV, and KVIA-TV.
- Regional All-Star ARs: Yvonne Salcido, Ysleta; Glorimar Yace, Cy-Fair, and Laurell Jernigan, Longview
- Regional Leaders for Tomorrow: Jose Villalobos, Ysleta, and Laurell Jernigan, Longview
- Regional ESPs of the Year: Rene Rivera, Donna; Maria Hernandez, Ysleta; Cornell Sutton, Austin; Deborah England, Amarillo; Richard Martin, Cy-Fair; and Laurell Jernigan, Longview
Photos from the NEA ESP Conference
We have photos from NEA’s Kevin Lock of guest speaker Chelsea Clinton, TSTA Vice President Ovidia Molina, Texas ESP of the Year Bonnie Soria Najera, and NEA Directors Linda Estrada and Angela Davis at the Orlando event.
State committees meet
TSTA's state committees met again on Jan. 23; our Flickr site has photos of all committee members taken in either October or January.
Campus Leader/AR Task Force meets
The task force met Saturday, Jan. 9 at TSTA Headquarters in Austin.Task force members are Juanita Cano, Ysleta Teachers Association TSTA NEA; Elia Cervantes, Pflugerville Educators Association; Nataujia "Toy" DeJohn, Beaumont Teachers Association; Lyn Moreno; Lubbock Educators Association; Fred Alvarez, Donna TSTA/ NEA; and Ana Alarcon, Laredo United TSTA/NEA.
Laredo United TSTA recognizes ARs
Congratulations & a BIG thank you to the Leadership Team in Laredo United TSTA for submitting formal recognition of 25 Campus Leaders/Association Representatives. The foundation to our longterm success is built on one-on-one, leader-to-leader conversations.
National leader at Student Program event
The TSTA Student Program Convention had a special keynote speaker: Shanna Peeples, National Teacher of the Year! See the SP section for video and photos.
Killeen president addresses special education concerns
From the Killeen Daily Herald: “We want and need to make sure the employees of KISD and the public stay informed. So tonight we respectfully request the board to please provide a detailed report as to the steps being taken by the board to evaluate the issues in the special education department,” said Rick Beaule, president of the Killeen Educators Association.
Beaule brought the initial results of a KEA survey conducted over the holiday weekend in regard to KEA members’ thoughts about what was termed the special education “scandal.”
The survey followed a recent Texas Education Agency report about the district’s inadequate testing compliance and a subsequent investigative series by the Herald on Killeen ISD’s special education department.
“Nearly 80 percent of the members stated that they are following the scandal. Two-thirds also stated their primary information source is the media and not the district. Ninety percent have at least a moderate-to-high level of concern about the scandal. Seventy percent support and trust the formation of a review board or task force consisting of members of KISD, its employees and members of the community,” Beaule said.
San Marcos holds tight on class size
On August 31, San Marcos TSTA scored a big win on class size. With public pressure, the board voted to adhere to a 22:1 hard cap in K-4 they voted in favor of in June. It was an issue school board candidates ran on, and San Marcos TSTA made sure they stayed committed to their promise.
“It’s not just a win for us, it’s a win for the students in San Marcos. I do understand the space issues but there’s ways to get creative, we’ll work on that as we’re going through,” San Marcos TSTA President Susan Seaton, an intervention teacher at Crockett Elementary, told KXAN. “But the fact is the parents in our community and the teachers can be assured that it’s going to be a 22:1 in elementary school.” http://kxan.com/2015/08/31/san-marcos-cisd-votes-to-keep-class-sizes-small
Local associations are busy signing up new members for 2015-16. See some of the photos, posters, and memes on Flickr.
Del Valle wins due process for ESPs
In February, in response to Del Valle Education Association’s due process campaign, the school board publicly committed itself to establishing due process for ESPs in board policy. On July 21, the due process language was unanimously approved by Del Valle ISD’s Board of Trustees. Del Valle becomes the third district in Texas, after Fort Worth and Austin, to provide due process to Education Support Professionals in board policy.
Big win for Harlandale Education Association
On June 23, the Harlandale ISD school board approved a 3% increase for ESPs; a $750 retention stipend for all employees; and teacher salary increases based on salary, not the midpoint, as follows:
- 0-2 yrs 3%
- 3-4 yrs 3.5%
- 5-27 yrs 4.5%
- 28+ yrs 2.5%
It was a big win for the Harlandale Education Association. The Harlandale administration had recommended a 2.5% and 2.75% pay increase for teachers. HEA asked for 4.5% for teachers (based on salary, not the midpoint), 4.5% for education support professionals, and a $750 retention stipend for all. During June, HEA kept up the pressure at the four special board meetings.
The other issue was one that came up in a survey HEA sent out. Some 85% of teachers wanted to discontinue the elementary math program, Reasoning Minds, because they said it did not work. HEA lobbied board members and had parents attend board meetings and speak against it.
The result? The district will continue the program for one more year until the administration can find a replacement. Next year teachers can use it as a supplemental program by working with their principal. With the teachers having the control, they can teach as they deem appropriate for their class, and kids won’t have to sit in front of a computer for 70 minutes a day doing math.
San Marcos wins pay hike
"It's amazing. It's the biggest thing that's been done in our district in a long time for our employees,” San Marcos Educators Association President Susan Seaton told Time Warner Cable News after the school board voted to increase teacher salaries by 3.8 percent Monday night. http://www.twcnews.com/tx/austin/news/2015/06/30/san-marcos-cisd-considers-raising-teacher-salaries.html
NEA gives Texas local Great Public Schools grant
NEA has awarded a Great Public Schools (GPS) Fund Grant totaling $37,000to the Port Arthur Teachers Association (PATA) recently received and the local is honored to partner with Port Arthur ISD (PAISD), which has committed approximately 50% (approximately $250,000) of its NCLB Title II money to improve and expand the opportunity for quality, real-time professional development for PAISD educators.
This grant is designed to establish a network to support PATA members and potential members with PAISD as it begins the second year piloting and refining the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (TTESS). This grant allows PATA and the district to establish and implement a personal learning platform (PLP) to provide safe schools professional development for all district employees.
The GPS grant and the PAISD commitment of a significant portion of its Title II money are the culmination of year of activities that began when PATA was given the opportunity to be at the table as the district began to pilot TTESS. Since that time, PATA leaders and identified members have:
• Participated in the appraiser training for PAISD certified appraisers;
• Sponsored an overview session on the next generation of teacher evaluation with an emphasis on TTESS;
• Planned and worked collaboratively with TSTA staff (DeShaunta Kearns and Bryan Weatherford) and NEA Member Benefits staff (Lisa Guzman) to identify and develop critical external partnerships;
• Sponsored a day-long symposium with Bryan Weatherford, TSTA Teaching and Learning, and Lisa Guzman, NEA Academy, on TTESS with an in-depth overview of the critical elements of TTESS;
• Made TTESS a priority focus area in our ongoing dialogue with Dr. Porterie, Superintendent, and other district administration; and
• Organized members for political engagement to elect endorsed candidates to the PAISD Board of Trustees (which had to approve the district’s Title II funding commitment) – resulting in the election of two endorsed candidates.
As the local expands its market share beyond 60%, it is leveraging its power to help bring real and meaningful change to PAISD educators.
Hays, Socorro defeat grievance policy change
Hays Educators Association and Socorro Education Association have, in their respective school districts, defeated a proposed change to DGBA grievance policy that was included in TASB’s Update 101. The language change would have started the grievance timeline clock before any informal attempt had been made to resolve concerns.
Got an idea? Get a grant!
Over the past decade, the NEA Foundation has invested more than $7.1 million in teaching grants to support the work of almost 4,500 educators from every state in the country to help students succeed. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning and Leadership Grants. The next deadline is June 1. Application forms and a video with step-by-step instructions on how to apply can be found in the Grants to Educators section of the NEA Foundation website. http://bit.ly/1DJjcFT
February 26, 2015
Two more grievance policy wins!
After multiple meetings with the district administration and a presentation to the school board this morning by Lubbock Educators Association President David Ring, the Lubbock ISD board voted unanimously not to accept the TASB recommended grievance language. Because of LEA's efforts, the administration recommended striking the TASB language and leaving the policy as it currently stands to promote informal resolutions. LEA was the only association to bring this to the district's attention and the superintendent and HR director thanked them in front of the board for alerting them and working with them to make sure it was not adopted.
Port Arthur Teachers Association also had the TASB grievance language policy pulled from the agenda before the Port Arthur ISD board meeting on Feb. 26.
February 19, 2015
Due process win in Del Valle
The school board and administration of Del Valle ISD have publicly committed to establishing due process for education support professionals in written board policy. A special committee will draft the language over the coming weeks.The committee consists of administrators, Del Valle Education Association representatives, and a school board member. The school board member elected by the board to sit on the committee is Trustee Ann Heuberger, former vice-president of TSTA. DVEA had campaigned on the issue for several months.
February 13, 2015
Education Austin launches Give Me 5 campaign
Education Austin is asking for a five percent pay increase for classified employees next year. At a Jan. 26 school board meeting, members carrying signs that said, "Give Me 5!" told the media their salaries are not keeping up with the rising cost of living in Austin. http://kut.org/post/classified-austin-isd-employees-ask-five-percent-pay-raise
January 30, 2015
Harlandale refuses to be silenced
When Harlandale Education Association President Julie Gimbel was denied the right to speak at a school board meeting, HEA members and the community rallied around her, as did neighboring TSTA local associations in the North East, Southwest, Edgewood, and Judson school districts. At a special called meeting of the board the following week, they were all there to support her. The school board president apologized and said it wouldn't happen again.
January 28, 2015
On Jan. 27, the Del Valle Education Association (DVEA) called on the school board to reject a proposed language change to DGBA grievance policy. The language change was included in TASB Update 101 and stated that the grievance timeline clock shall start ticking before any informal attempt has been made to resolve concerns, and not after. The language change was a knee-jerk reaction to a recent ruling by the Texas Commissioner of Education who determined that an informal resolution process should be allowed to run its course before the grievance timeline took effect. The school board and administration of Del Valle ISD agreed with DVEA’s analysis, and the proposed change to grievance policy DGBA will not be adopted.
- Watch Sarah Buchanan, vice-president of DVEA, address the school board: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehEI4t2s-ak&x-yt-ts=1422411861&x-yt-cl=84924572
- DVEA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DelValleEducationAssociationTstaNea
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 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
- 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
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/pages/San-Marcos-Educators-TSTA/250124925720.
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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