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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

TX educators react to Lt. Gov. priorities for next legislative session

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024   

Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick has released 57 "interim charges," the topics he wants Senate committees to study in preparation for the 89th legislative session next year.

Four charges are for the committee overseeing public education. They include improving reading and math readiness in grade school, and redesigning the state's standardized tests.

Eli Melandrez, government relations associate for the American Federation of Teachers-Texas, said educators are surprised the list does not include pay increases for teachers or controversial school vouchers, which use public money to pay for private schooling.

"It's interesting to see both of those key issues absent from the interim charges," Melandrez observed. "Across the state we've seen school closures; we've seen teachers being let go. We've seen a greater percentage of our teacher workforce as uncertified educators."

Two unsuccessful special sessions were held in the past few months, in an attempt to pass a school voucher proposal. Other charges for public schools include examining how school districts used COVID-19 funding, and monitoring the implementation of bills passed in the last session.

Patrick also directed the Higher Education Committee to analyze faculty senates, monitor bans on DEI policies at colleges and universities and revise policies for faculty tenure.

Melandrez noted their union is now affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and members are concerned the lieutenant governor is inserting his own political views into the education system.

"That's worrisome for us," Melandrez emphasized. "In public education and higher education, we are seeing a concerted effort to minimize educator voices."

Patrick also wants senators to review university antisemitism policies and protecting the First Amendment rights of faculty, staff and students. The next legislative session convenes Jan. 14, 2025.

Disclosure: Texas AFT contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Livable Wages/Working Families, Mental Health, and Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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