85th Legislative Session: Update on Lunch Shaming Legislation
Governor Greg Abbot signed a bill this legislative session to end “lunch shaming” in Texas. Author of the bill State Representative Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto) carried the bill to ensure that students who run out of money in their lunch accounts are still provided with meals. As this country continues to fight child hunger, more and more students rely on school meals. SB 1566 mandates the establishment of a grace period during which the child may continue to receive a lunch when their lunch account is empty. The school board in each school district will determine a grace period, or direct the superintendent to do so, and identify a process to restore the deficit caused by unpaid accounts. The board would also work with parents to apply for free and reduced lunch programs, if appropriate.
Acknowledging that unpaid lunch accounts create budget deficiencies for school districts, Representative Giddings has led a fundraising effort through Feeding Texas for school districts that are significantly affected.
Many PTAs have programs on their local campuses that provide bagged lunches to children whose accounts are empty. Unfortunately, not all PTAs can provide this program, often at campuses where the need is the greatest. With the passing of this measure, PTAs are encouraged to work with their school administrators, school board trustees, and educational foundations to address this issue collaboratively. There are businesses and public and private donors in your community that may consider donating to such a cause. As PTAs we want to work with our districts to ensure that no child is refused school lunch, and work toward a solution that is sustainable year after year.
Get Ready to Take It to The Polls
PTA Advocates! Get ready to take it to the polls! Primary elections, the most important elections in Texas these days, will be here before you know it, on March 6.
Advocacy begins in your community. Educate yourself about the candidates by holding or attending forums to meet the candidates and by visiting their campaign websites. Often local newspapers publish questionnaires that have been completed by candidates. They can provide good information about a candidate’s priorities.
The Texas Tribune has compiled a list of all the candidates who have filed for the Democratic and Republican primaries for statewide, congressional, and legislative offices and the State Board of Education. See the list. To find the candidates who are running in your part of the state, confirm your district number here.
Texas PTA Names Lawmakers to
Legislative Honor Roll
Texas PTA recently named 11 lawmakers to the Legislative Honor Roll based on their work during the 85th Legislative Session. Presentations occurred throughout the fall and are continuing in early 2018. A complete list of recipients can be found on the Texas PTA website. Representative Dan Huberty, chairman of House Committee on Public Education, was honored as Legislator of the Year.
Rep. Dan Huberty with LAUNCH attendees
Rep. Trent Ashby with Texas PTA Advocacy Committee Member Helen Warwick
Rep. Helen Giddings with Texas PTA Advocacy Committee Member Liz Harling
Rep. Donna Howard with members of the
Austin Council of PTAs
Sen. Jose Menendez with Texas PTA Director-at-Large Neil Shelby and President-Elect Sheri Doss 
Rep. Ina Minjarez with Texas PTA President-Elect Sheri Doss
Sen. Kel Seliger with PTA members in Amarillo ISD
Rep. Gary VanDeaver with Texas PTA Advocacy Committee Member Helen Warwick
Rep. John Zerwas with Texas PTA President Lisa Holbrook
We encourage members whose representative or senator has received the prestigious Legislative Honor Roll award to send a congratulatory note, post a comment on Facebook or Twitter, or send a short letter to the editor of your local paper. Thank them for their service to the school children of Texas and for supporting Texas PTA’s initiatives. Find your state legislators here.
Upcoming SBOE Long-Range Planning Sessions
TASA members and others have been invited to join SBOE members to discuss long-term goals for Texas public schools. The board is crafting a new Long-Range Plan for Public Education and is hosting meetings around the state to gather information from Texans. 
Parents, students, educators, and business and community leaders packed the house at the San Antonio Community Conversation, held on Monday, January 9, 2018, with about 150 in attendance. Everyone had a voice and was fully engaged. Let your voice be heard by attending one of the upcoming community conversations in your area.
Statement by Commissioner Morath Regarding Governor Abbott's Directive on Special Education in Texas
AUSTIN – The Texas Education Agency (TEA) today received a final monitoring report from the U.S. Department of Education with its findings on the delivery of special education services in the state. Gov. Greg Abbott has directed Commissioner of Education Mike Morath to take swift and immediate action to address findings in the report. Gov. Abbott has given TEA seven days to draft a corrective action plan. Commissioner Morath has issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s directive:
“I share Gov. Abbott’s urgency to quickly address the issues identified in this federal monitoring report. More importantly, I share the Governor’s commitment to doing what’s right for special education students in our public schools.
Since becoming Commissioner, I have worked to strengthen the supports provided to our parents and school systems in properly identifying students in need of services, and then ensuring those services are delivered. For example, we have added significant resources focused on increasing technical assistance and training for our school systems, including 39 statewide special education support staff in the last year. I am committing today that there will be more.
The corrective action plan called for by the Governor will outline the specific steps TEA will take to address all the identified issues. Parent and special education advocacy group representatives will play an ongoing integral role in helping shape this plan, as well as all efforts of the agency in the years ahead. My top priority has and continues to be to improve outcomes for all students in Texas.”
The monitoring report received by TEA today was issued following a listening tour by federal officials last year. The tour also included visits with TEA representatives, as well as some local school district teachers and administrators.
To read Gov. Abbott’s letter to Commissioner Morath, click here.
Important Primary Election Dates
Monday, February 5
Deadline for mailing application to register to vote 
Tuesday, February 20
Early voting begins 
Friday, March 2
Texas Independence Day!
Last day to early vote 
Tuesday, March 6
Primary Election Day 
Remember the Texas PTA Legislative priorities when you go to the polls. We need representatives at the local and state level who will work beside us to make every child’s potential a reality.
Share with your community, encourage voter registration and get everyone to the polls.
Support Celebrate Texas Public Schools' Social Media Campaign
As part of the months-long Celebrate Texas Public Schools campaign, the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) has been tweeting factual vignettes tagged with #WeChoosePublic. TSPRA asks public education supporters to share those tweets with their own Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram followers between now and February 26, the start of Texas Public Schools Week. Follow TSPRA on Twitter, "like" the official Celebrate Texas Public Schools Facebook page, and share some of your local success stories using the hashtag #WeChoosePublic and the campaign logo below.
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