November's general election weeks away
Important Dates and Details
• Register to vote by October 5, 2020  |  Watch How to Vote in a Pandemic
• High school students must be at least 18 years old on Election Day to vote.
Students may register two months before their 18th birthday
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Apply to vote by mail by October 23 if you are: 65 years or older; sick or disabled; out of the county during early voting and election day. Learn more about vote by mail in Texas.
Census deadline extended to October 31
The deadline to submit your response to the U.S. Census Bureau has been extended three months due to COVID-19. You now have until October 31 to respond. If you haven’t done so yet, complete the census here.
Importance of the Data
Lawmakers and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children. The results will also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.  (Source)
How Can You Verify That Someone Is a Census Taker?
If someone visits your home this year to collect information for the 2020 Census, check to make sure they have a valid ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo.  (Source)
22 years later, Health Education TEKS get updating
For several months, the State Board of Education (SBOE) has been engaged in the process of updating the curriculum standards for health education courses taught in schools. Known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), these standards are the concepts that public school students must learn in health courses.
This is the first update of the Health Education TEKS by the SBOE in 22 years and provides an extraordinary opportunity to ensure that all Texas students are receiving information that will keep them physically and mentally safe.
Texas PTA has submitted comments to the SBOE with specific recommendations regarding the Health Education TEKS. These recommendations address a wide variety of instructional elements, including sexual and reproductive health, healthy and unhealthy relationships, information on immunizations, and the dangers of vaping.
Update:
In mid-August, the SBOE released the Health Education TEKS Review Final Recommendations for health and sex education. Texas PTA submitted comments on the final recommendations. These TEKS will be debated and preliminarily adopted when the SBOE reconvenes September 8-11. To submit comments on the document, please indicate "Health Education TEKS Review Final Recommendations Feedback" in the subject line and submit to TEA at teks@tea.texas.gov.
A final vote on the revised Health Education TEKS will take place November 17-20.
Texas PTA surveys members, results available
In a survey conducted in two parts back in May, Texas PTA sought the perspectives of our members on a variety of topics to help guide our work setting legislative priorities for the 87th Texas Legislature. The response rate was the highest of any survey conducted by Texas PTA to-date.
See survey results here.
USDE: Additional accountability & assessment waivers unlikely
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Department of Education (USDE) issued waivers temporarily absolving all 50 states and territories from federal accountability and assessment requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for last school year. Since that time, several states have sought similar waivers for the current 2020-2021 school year for the same purpose. On September 3, USDE sent a letter to all chief state school officers underscoring the importance of these assessment and accountability provisions in ESSA and stressing that states “. . . should not anticipate such waivers being granted again.” Instead, USDE’s letter encouraged states to “rethink” their existing assessment systems and left open the possibility that states could still shift how the results of their assessments are used for school accountability purposes. (via TASB)
PTA advocacy: 2020 and beyond
Due to the public health crisis, a lot of decisions are still being made on how and when to open up schools across the state. The fate of the 2020-2021 school year is a hot button issue right now – one that is inciting many different opinions across the board. As a nationwide brand, PTA is seen as having its finger on the pulse of American families. We are the go-to when the media wants to know how parents are feeling with all this upheaval. As we move further into the school year and approach the next legislative session in January, PTAs will receive more invitations to comment on issues or participate in forums.
PTA in Texas has always been a major advocate for students and schools. And the Texas PTA Board of Directors will always encourage our PTAs to be a voice for their students in local matters. But there are a few important policies and tips to keep in mind:
1. Texas PTA and each Local and Council PTA are all 501(c)(3) organizations. Under the Internal Revenue Code, any activity by a 501(c)(3) related to politics is strictly limited. Meaning, a PTA cannot endorse a candidate for public office or show preferential treatment to a candidate or political party. For example, if your PTA hosts a candidate forum for a local race, you must invite all candidates to participate.
2. Though people can be persistent in their requests, your PTA is under no obligation to give a comment to the media or participate in any public conversation. Get comfortable saying, "No, thank you." And when in doubt, ask your FSR or the Texas PTA State Office for assistance.
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