Every legislative session, TCTA's top-ranked lobby team advocates for our members, pushing for significant increases in teacher pay and benefits (including higher state contributions toward health insurance and retirement), adequate funding for schools, reduced emphasis on standardized testing, and many other goals.
These efforts are sometimes in conjunction with other teacher associations and/or other education coalitions. The list below does not include such joint or general issues. Rather, these are bills and amendments that, unless otherwise noted, were initiated specifically by TCTA. We are grateful for the many legislators who filed these bills on our members' behalf over the years, and to those who supported and voted for the bills.
Many of the laws below have been revised or updated since they were originally passed. Members interested in a particular issue can contact the TCTA legislative or legal department about these provisions.
By necessity, TCTA focused more on defense in this unusual session — killing or fixing bad bills — as it was far more difficult to initiate policy in this session’s environment. Except where otherwise noted, the following are successes directly attributable to TCTA’s efforts.
Included a rider in the state budget (SB 1) to specify that the budget includes funds sufficient to maintain salary increases from HB 3, and to express the legislature’s intent that at a minimum, districts/charter schools should maintain salary increases provided in the 2020-21 school year.
Included a budget rider that, for the first time, provides transparency regarding teacher designations under the Teacher Incentive Allotment program. The rider required TEA to provide the numbers of teachers anticipated to receive each level of TIA designation (recognized, exemplary and master) under the program, as well as the amount of funding allocated for the associated incentives.
In HB 750, initiated by TCTA, required districts to post their employment policies and referenced regulations on their website, if applicable, and to make referenced forms accessible to employees either on the district’s intranet website or at an administrative office.
Significantly streamlined and reduced redundancies in teacher training requirements through our leading role in the Teacher Workforce Workgroup, as reflected in SB 1267. This legislation reflects a long-time goal of TCTA to ensure that teacher training and professional development are more meaningful and that teachers have the flexibility to self-select relevant professional development. TCTA was a catalyst for the formation of the group and led a key subgroup.
Eliminated additional training from other proposed legislation in keeping with the goals of SB 1267 (see above), including the elimination of annual bullying training that would have been required under SB 2050.
Revised language in HB 4545 that would have given absolute authority to parents whose student failed a STAAR exam to choose their child’s teacher for the following school year; TCTA’s version requires districts to create a process by which parents may request a particular teacher.
Protected teacher salaries by including a provision in HB 1525 to require districts to continue to pay a salary at least equal to the employee’s 2019-20 salary as long as the employee remains in the district (with exceptions for financial exigencies).
Provided broader access for both students and teachers in tutoring programs by ensuring that a teacher did not have to be a member of a teacher organization to participate.
Tightened language in SB 348 regarding parent observations of virtual instruction to ensure that such observation is limited to the same extent as would normally occur for in-person instruction.
Ensured limitations on paperwork requirements regarding the use of time-outs for students receiving special education services (HB 785).
TCTA worked closely with other members of the education community, including through our position as a founding member of the Coalition for Public Schools, to defeat legislation that would have created any type of voucher program. The bills included SB 1716 regarding supplemental special education services; the original version would have been a voucher program, but it was amended to remove the objectionable voucher provisions and subsequently passed. TCTA also successfully opposed a number of bills that would have expanded charter school governance authority and removed key limitations on the charter school approval process.
TCTA's previous work to tie the state minimum salary schedule to the basic allotment (see pre-1997 accomplishments below) resulted in a 20% increase to the minimum schedule, a boost ranging from $5,580 to $9,030 in annual salary depending on the salary step.
Ensured that teachers cannot be assigned an area of deficiency on their appraisal solely based on their disciplinary referrals or their documentation of student conduct. Districts cannot discipline a teacher based on documentation of student conduct.
In order to avoid the "chilling effect" that can occur from the reporting of certain disciplinary actions, ensured that a discretionary teacher removal of a student from the classroom is not a removal that must be reported through PEIMS or other similar required reports.
Allowed districts that provide fewer than 180 instructional days to also reduce the number of required teacher days proportionately, without a reduction in salary.
Added conduct containing the elements of harassment against a school employee (including threats of violence against employees, their family and their property) to the list of behaviors for which a student must be removed to an alternative education program.
Required districts to post contact information online for the campus behavior coordinator or other campus administrator responsible for student discipline.
Streamlined newly-expanded training requirements by ensuring that training regarding mental health issues can include two or more listed topics together, providing that training regarding trauma-informed care must be provided at intervals only as necessary to keep educators informed of developments in the field, and ensuring that certain one-time training was not revised to be required every five years.
Ensured that in developing a transition plan for students returning to the classroom from an alternative education program, the classroom teachers involved in coordinating the transition must be those who are responsible for implementing the student's transition plan.
Ensured that new laws regarding the role of school district peace officers and resource officers do not prohibit their informal contact with students.
Made several revisions to the proposed new law prohibiting the use of "aversive techniques" to ensure that a teacher's ability to remove a student from the classroom was not restrained, and to otherwise refine the language of the bill.
Provided clarifying language upon a request from a legislator regarding a district's ability to take action against a teacher by providing narrowly tailored language that a district can only take appropriate action based on documented evidence of a deficiency in classroom instruction.
Ensured that current law provisions that exempt education aides from field service and clinical teaching requirements for purposes of pursuing a teaching certificate under the education aide tuition exemption program remained in place.
Prevented proposed harmful changes to current immunity statutes with regard to the use of bleeding control kits by school employees and volunteers.
Required that Districts of Innovation post their current DOI plan on the district website, and, within 15 days of adoption, send a new or revised plan to TEA, which must promptly post the plan on the TEA website.
Removed an objectionable teacher quality indicator (allowing for up to 25 percent of the indicator to be based on student performance on state assessments) in accountability legislation.
Included the campus behavior coordinator in a school district positive behavior program, and made annual staff training on the program permissive rather than mandatory.
Ensured that the required number of hours of classroom instruction in a new abbreviated educator preparation program for a trade/industrial certification candidate was increased from 25-50 to at least 80.
Ensured that district policies must allow school employees to keep personal phone numbers and email addresses confidential. Also ensured that any confidential evaluatory documents released to TEA can only be used for purposes of an investigation, and those documents must remain confidential unless produced in accordance to evidentiary rules for a contested case.
Ensured that teachers and school employees are immune from liability for reporting bullying, or reporting student conduct which may constitute assault or harassment.
Eliminated language that would have allowed a classroom video recording believed to document a possible violation of school procedures to be used as part of a disciplinary action against district/school personnel.
Ensured the continuation of current law allowing certification reciprocity for out-of-state teachers only if they had passed a certification test at least as rigorous as the relevant Texas certification exam. Ensured that provisions allowing three of the five field supervision visits to be conducted via electronic transmission were limited to candidates for certification other than classroom teachers. Ensured that new provisions allowing substitute teachers to count prior experience toward required field-based experience hours were limited to long-term substitutes only.
Included higher performance standards for charter schools with whom school districts may contract for operation of a campus. Ensured that students zoned for a campus run by a charter school would have priority admission so that they would not be displaced from their neighborhood schools.
Clarified the absolute right of a school district employee or charter school employee to report a crime to any peace officer with jurisdiction. Also made clear that it is a crime for a school administrator to coerce an employee into not reporting information to a law enforcement agency.
Restored deleted key special education rules in statute. Required that the regular education teacher who participates in an ARD meeting be a regular education teacher who will implement a portion of a student’s IEP, provided that any other teacher who instructs a special education student can provide input into the development of the IEP, and allowed any member of the ARD (including the regular education teacher) to write a statement of disagreement if they disagree with the developed IEP.
Replaced a potentially harmful student discipline bill with pro-teacher provisions, including the designation of a campus behavior coordinator at every school.
Worked closely with the author of HB 786 on a proposal originally initiated by TCTA in previous legislative sessions, ensuring the rights of teachers to express breast milk at work.
Resolved a major issue for teachers retiring from school districts that pay their first paycheck for the year in August. Previously, those teachers could not count their final year in the calculation of their benefits; the bill gave TRS the flexibility to address that problem.
Ensured that the ability of districts to hire uncertified individuals through district permits was limited to only those situations in which the person would teach non-core academic career/technical education courses; the teacher must have demonstrated subject matter expertise.
Redrafted legislation to avoid the unlimited delegation of authority by SBEC to the commissioner of education and limited such delegation only to the disposal of contested cases involving educator certification.
Ensured that TEA monitoring reviews will not be limited to desk reviews of data submitted by the schools, but may also include on-site, random visits, and that the commissioner’s rules provide that information obtained from district employees is done in a manner that prevents a district or campus from screening the information.
Required that district grievance policies must allow an attorney to represent an employee in a grievance proceeding (at which the employee is entitled to representation) through a telephone conference call, provided that the district has the necessary equipment.
Prohibited districts from requiring a current or former employee to choose whether to allow public access to their social security number, and specifically provided that the social security number is confidential. School boards must adopt a policy prohibiting the use of social security numbers as an employee identifier, except for tax purposes.
Provided that an ARD committee can determine that a behavior improvement/behavioral intervention plan is appropriate for a student for whom the committee has developed an IEP, and required that the BIP be included with the IEP and provided to each teacher educating the child.
Required districts to, before adopting a major curriculum initiative, solicit teacher input; provide employees with the opportunity to express opinions; and hold a school board meeting at which information about the initiative is provided, including costs and any alternatives considered, and members of the public and employees are given an opportunity to comment.
Helped amend HB 5 with provisions requiring TEA to redesign the STAAR-Alt so that teachers are not required to prepare tasks or materials for the test.
Helped structure the expansion of personal graduation plans in HB 5 so that the responsibility for their development was not put on teachers.
Required that for purposes of PEIMS reporting in the financial accountability system, the term “teacher” means classroom teacher (in order to ensure accuracy in student-teacher ratio reporting).
Drafted the bill language relating to a statewide online teaching and learning conditions survey for educators.
Remove harmful provisions from a teacher quality bill that would have eliminated the minimum salary schedule, required annual appraisal of all teachers, and tied teacher evaluations to student test scores.
Required applicants for math or science teacher certification to be eligible for a student loan repayment program in exchange for teaching math/science in public schools.
Added educators to the Expanded Learning Opportunities Council.
Provided that, if a parent does not require an evaluation by a certain amount of time before the school year ends, the district may extend the timeline by which the district must provide an evaluation into the following school year.
Restructured a state performance pay program to eliminate a harmful provision allowing waiver of the minimum salary schedule.
Included language in an educator gun safety training bill to make clear that no employee can be required to participate in the training or be subject to any penalty or disciplinary action for refusing to do so. (NOTE: The bill was subsequently vetoed.)
Required districts to develop a process for teachers who instruct students with disabilities in a regular classroom setting to request a review of the student’s IEP. The process must include a provision for a timely response to the request and require notification to the student’s parent of the district’s response.
Strengthened the notification requirements for law enforcement and school administrators regarding students with serious criminal histories, and provided that law enforcement officers and school administrators who do not provide the required notice will be reported to the appropriate licensing agency and face potential sanctions.
Prohibited a school district from coercing an employee to contribute or refrain from making a charitable contribution, or requiring attendance at a meeting called for the purpose of soliciting charitable contributions.
Ensured that an administrative delay by the State Board for Educator Certification would not cause a certificate to expire if the teacher had otherwise completed the renewal process.
Ensured that the employee pay raise would apply to all eligible employees, and would not be left up to local discretion.
Included speech pathologists in the raise.
Helped eliminate the TEEG performance pay program.
Ensured that TRS-ActiveCare cannot opt out of providing coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Required districts to promptly forward service records to an employee’s new district to ensure proper placement on the local salary schedule.
Allowed employees to make an audio recording of a meeting in which a grievance is discussed.
Allowed an employee to determine the order in which state and local personal leave are used.
10-student class-size limit will apply to all accelerated instruction classes, not just grades 3, 5, and 8.
Exit-level test retake results will count for accreditation purposes.
Eliminated requirement that 75% of teachers at a repurposed campus may not be retained.
For-profit alternative management entities will be allowed only if no non-profit applies.
The commissioner may suspend accountability ratings for the 2011-12 school year; and for college readiness indicators, must suspend ratings for the 2012-13 school year, in order to provide a smoother transition to the new system.
The “teacher report card” will be provided to the teacher at the beginning of the school year for incoming students, to ensure that it can appropriately be used for diagnostic purposes.
Required that graduates of educator preparation programs be surveyed and survey results be included in program evaluation
Revised a bill that would have required educators to exhaust all administrative remedies in certain cases before pursuing judicial remedy; TCTA changed the original bill language, which simply removed the commissioner’s jurisdiction in such cases, to expand rather than limit educators’ options.
Ensured an employee’s right to communicate directly with a school board member.
Required students who are registered sex offenders to be placed in an alternative education program and strengthened notification requirements to schools and teachers.
Provided that district grievance policies must allow an employee to report certain grievances against a supervisor to a different supervisor.
Ensured that employees retiring at the end of the school year are entitled to health insurance coverage and funding through the summer months.
Provided that employees cannot be made liable for acts for which they are immune and cannot be required to pay for or replace property in their possession within the scope of their position (such as student cell phones).
Ensured that return-to-work retirees required to work in June (up to June 15) will not lose a June TRS check; additionally, if a rehired retiree is required to attend a staff development activity in June or July, that time is not counted as “work” that would potentially endanger the June or July check.
Ensured confidentiality of certification exam scores (additional language not proposed by TCTA provides that scores on exams after five failed attempts will not be confidential).
Limited field testing.
Exempted employees retiring on or before August 31, 2005, from the return-to-work surcharge.
Required districts to make available comprehensive information on their health insurance policies.
Provided that notice of any misconduct for which a student may be removed to a DAEP or expelled must be sent to every educator who has responsibility for or who directs and supervises the student.
Ensured that a student who assaulted a teacher cannot be placed back in the teacher’s classroom.
Required districts to post notice of job vacancies.
Ensured portability in local district health insurance plans.
Prevented the creation of potential liability for school employees in a bill addressing diabetes management issues in public schools
Ensured that the legislation changing school employee retirement benefits included grandfather provisions to minimize the impact of the bill on employees nearing retirement.
Strengthened laws limiting teacher paperwork.
Allowed less-than-annual teacher appraisals.
Established clear teacher grading authority by prohibiting administrators from changing grades assigned by teachers unless the grades are miscalculated or not in accordance with the school grading policy.
Ensured that teachers will not be held responsible for missing or stolen textbooks or technology.
Required that notice of disciplinary actions follow transfer students.
Improved leave and pay options for school employees in active military service.
Provided school districts the option to give experienced teachers a term (rather than probationary) contract when moving to a new school district.
Improved teachers’ legal protection from liability and in disciplining students (TCTA-initiated/drafted provisions).
Assured that all nonadministrative employees should receive the health insurance supplement (TCTA-initiated establishment of legislative intent).
Ensured the ability of large school districts to enter TRS-ActiveCare, the new health insurance program, earlier than originally allowed.
Expanded provisions allowing retirees to return to work with no loss of benefits.
Assured that teachers assaulted by special education students will be eligible for assault leave.
Revised worker’s compensation laws to ensure fair benefits for educators on 10-month contracts.
Reinstated counselors and covered nurses to the salary schedule, so that they benefited from the across-the-board teacher pay raise of at least $3,000.
Helped achieve an increase in the TRS multiplier to 2.2% and other TRS-related benefits (the first bill proposing to raise the multiplier to 2.25% was filed at TCTA’s initiative).
Eliminated the staff briefing exception to the open meetings act.
Eliminated the automatic increase in the number of days teachers must work under state law.
Provided an option for the commissioner of education in dealing with low-performing districts to order a report regarding the effectiveness of campus and district decision-making committees.
Ensured retention of language providing that districts cannot require teachers to work more than 10 months without additional pay.
Revised a salary funding formula that discouraged districts from paying above the state minimum.
Ensured the inclusion of significant teacher input in grade promotion decisions.
Corrected the formula that linked required days of teacher service to the minimum salary schedule, so that teachers have to work five fewer days than would otherwise have been required for all future years.
Maintained the salary linkage to state education funding, resulting in a 6.5% increase in the state minimum salary schedule over the upcoming two years.
Created the Rule of 80, under which school employees with at least 5 years of experience can retire with full benefits upon reaching any combination of age and experience totaling 80.
Prohibited districts from restricting the reasons for which teachers can take personal leave.
Allowed an educator to serve as the chair of the State Board for Educator Certification.
Required the commissioner to adopt rules regarding the placement of teachers with out-of-state and private school experience on the state minimum salary schedule (the previous law had been repealed, leaving districts free to make their own determinations regarding the crediting of prior experience).
Prohibited the use of newly required diagnostic reading instruments in teacher appraisals.
Restored the law (which had been eliminated during the Education Code rewrite in 1995) allowing teachers to obtain additional certification by examination, with the statutory requirement for an internship removed.
Ensured that stipends received for teaching driver’s education classes will be creditable for TRS purposes.
Provided that teachers of students who have been arrested for certain offenses will be notified of subsequent occurrences, including convictions or other adjudication.
Increased funding for JJAEPs.
Created the TRS-Care plan, ensuring health insurance coverage for retired teachers.
Required that teachers’ planning and preparation periods be scheduled within the instructional day.
Ensured due process for nurses, and the extension of immunity from liability to additional employees such as nurses and teacher aides.
Required the automatic removal or expulsion of students engaging in terroristic threats
Ensured the right of teachers to remove disruptive students from the classroom.
Allowed teachers to refuse to readmit disruptive students into their classroom.
Gave site-based decision-making committees authority over campus based professional development.
Created certification by examination, which allows educators to receive additional certification without having to take additional college coursework.
Required 90% attendance for a student to receive credit for a course.
Protected a reduced probationary period for experienced teachers moving to a different district.
Linked the state minimum salary schedule to state funding levels, ensuring that the salary schedule would rise naturally with increases in state education funding.