NEWS ALERT: Special Session Starts Next Week

The Governor has now announced that the Third Special Session will begin 1:00 p.m., October 9. While the agenda has not been announced, it is expected to include critical education legislation. 
Texas PTA Legislative Priorities: Since this special session is a continuation of the regular session, the Texas PTA legislative priorities for the 88th session still apply. These priorities include:

  • Vouchers: Oppose legislation that authorizes state funds to be used to pay for private school tuition and related costs.
  • Public School Funding System: Pursue legislation that increases the basic allotment and funds public education based on enrollment versus attendance.
  • A-F Accountability System: Pursue legislation impacting the state’s A-F system. Advocate for an accountability system that more broadly reviews school performance and includes a family engagement component.
  • Teacher and Staff Shortage and Retention: Pursue legislation that addresses teacher and staff shortages and improves retention.
Along with our advocacy partners, Texas PTA will begin sharing special messaging by email and social media, to ensure you know what is at stake for our children and families if the legislature is successful in diverting funding from your school. We ask that you stay ready to show our thunderous voice! 
The governor has continued to advocate for state funding of vouchers to subsidize private school tuition. During a tele-town hall, he vowed to pass “Education Savings Accounts” legislation, stating, “there’s an easy way to get it done, and there’s a hard way…we will take it either way—in a special session or after an election.” Governor Abbott said he would call up to two more special sessions, and if vouchers are not passed, he will campaign against legislative opponents in the March primaries.
Expected Special Session education issues likely to be addressed: 
  • Vouchers
  • Teacher Pay
  • Public School funding
  • Assessments
  • Accountability
Also, it is possible the governor may add to the call some of the 77 bills that he vetoed in June.
Click photo for more photos
click here to listen to press conference.

Efforts to Protect Funding for Students & Families

Groups around the state are working to protect funding for students and families served by Texas Public Schools.
September 29, 2023 Texas PTA is proud of and grateful for board members who joined a number of school district leaders and education advocate in Dallas last week to voice, once again, our unwavering committment to keep public dollars in public schools and reject vouchers.
Thank you to Vice President Leadership Kelley Thomas for speaking so passionately about our mission to make every child's potential a reality, and to our new Vice President Advocacy Rachael Abell and Director-at-Large Ken Kuhl for also representing us at the press conference.
October 7, 2023  A number of partners are hosting the Boot Vouchers Rally on the south steps of the Capitol from 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. this Saturday.

School Safety Funding

HB 3 requires an armed security presence at every campus beginning in the 2023-2024 school year. Many districts are having trouble funding this mandate because the state only provides about half the cost -$15,000 per campus over the next two years and an allotment of ten dollars per student.

Many school districts have requested a "good cause exception" due to a lack of funding and lack of available officers. Speaker Phelan has stated lawmakers may consider increasing the safety allotment during the special session on education funding so districts can afford to hire the necessary officers.


This past 88th Regular Legislative Session, State Representative Ed Thompson introduced House Bill 114. As filed, it gave school administrators discretion on whether to send students to a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP) if they were in possession of marihuana within 300 feet of school property. Additionally, it clarified that school administrators or officers may confiscate e-cigarettes and notify appropriate local law enforcement of the student’s conduct. 
When HB 114 reached the Senate Chamber, Charles Perry amended it significantly. While the rationale is still unclear, Senator Perry’s amendment changed the bill to require the removal of a student to DAEP for possession, use, sale, giving, or delivery of an e-cigarette. The final bill does give administrators the flexibility to prioritize violent offenders over those caught with e-cigarettes or marihuana for DAEP. It also includes a reference to another part of the Education Code that schools must consider when determining who to send to DAEP.

In a nutshell, there is much confusion over the correct implementation of HB 114 and schools are looking to TEA and the Legislature to clarify. Check out page 77 of this updated info on TEA’s website, published September 1, 2023.


House Bill 900, also known as the READER Act, passed by State Representative Jared Patterson, requires book vendors to assign ratings to books related to sexually explicit and sexually relevant material. The bill prohibits a vendor from selling books that are rated sexually explicit and requires vendors to issue a recall of such books previously sold to public schools.

While supporters of the bill believe HB 900 is meant to protect children from inappropriate material, those opposed argue the bill violates the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by regulating speech with “vague and overbroad” terms. Federal District Judge Alan Albright has blocked the implementation of HB 900, calling the bill “prohibitively expensive” and a violation of the First Amendment. The State plans to appeal Albright’s decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Chaplains in Schools

The legislature passed Senate Bill 763 during the regular session allowing school districts to use paid or volunteer chaplains to perform duties required of a school counselor. Districts are allowed to pay for chaplain services out of school safety and security funds. The legislation mandates each school board take a record vote on whether or not to “adopt a policy authorizing” campuses to use chaplains. The effective date of the act is September 1, and the record vote deadline is March 1, 2024. 

Supporters believe bringing chaplains into schools will assist with mental health services and fill in the gaps in school counselor vacancies. Opponents argue chaplains are not trained to provide mental health services and requiring school board members to vote on such issues will cause more strife and division in public education.

New A-F Accountability Ratings Release Pushed Back One Month

The Texas Education Agency announced a temporary delay in the release of 2023 A-F accountability ratings, originally scheduled for September 28th. The A-F system is a tool that evaluates how well districts and campuses help students reach certain learning goals. As prescribed by statute, A-F ratings must balance multiple objectives to ensure a rigorous, transparent, and fair system, and are based on achievement, progress, and closing the gaps.

The postponement will allow for further re-examination of baseline data used in the calculation of progress to ensure ratings reflect the most appropriate goals for students. The final ratings methodology will be posted once this analysis of the growth data is complete, and about two weeks later, A-F ratings will be issued.
Meanwhile, approximately 100 school districts filed suit against TEA, seeking to block the release of new A-F school accountability scores, claiming the new methodology was only shared after the fact and "will arbitrarily lower performance ratings for many school districts and campuses even though their performance improved". Accurate ratings are significant because they are used by trustees to address educational priorities and by families to measure the performance and quality of schools.

Attorney General Ken Paxton Acquitted

Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted on all 16 articles of impeachment after a historic trial in the Senate Chamber. The 31 senators sat as jurors, except for Senator Angela Paxton, Ken Paxton’s wife, who was recused but required to be present during the trial. Luitenant Governor Dan Patrick presided as judge. Twenty-one votes were required to convict on any article, but the most votes received to convict was 14.
Although the impeachment trial is now behind us, the divide between the House and Senate Chamber has grown larger and more contentious. Both Lt. Governor Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan have exchanged statements on X, formerly Twitter, accusing the other of mishandling the impeachment process. Whether this plays a role in the upcoming special session on vouchers is yet to be seen.

Important Constitutional Amendments on the November 7th Ballot

Texas voters have approved 517 amendments to the state Constitution since its adoption in 1876. Fourteen more proposed amendments will be submitted for voter approval at the general election on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. Below are several of interest:
  • Proposition 4 – HJR 2: Reduction in School Property Tax / Homestead Exemption
    The constitutional amendment authorizes the legislature to establish a temporary limit on the maximum appraised value of real property other than a residence homestead for ad valorem tax purposes; to increase the amount of the exemption from ad valorem taxation by a school district applicable to residence homesteads from $40,000 to $100,000; to adjust the amount of the limitation on school district ad valorem taxes imposed on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect increases in certain exemption amounts; to except certain appropriations to pay for ad valorem tax relief from the constitutional limitation on the rate of growth of appropriations; and to authorize the legislature to provide for a four-year term of office for a member of the board of directors of certain appraisal districts.

    This amendment provides that over $12 billion will be spent on reducing the school property tax rate for all homeowners and business properties, and the homestead exemption will be increased to $100,000, retroactive to 2023.

  • Proposition 8 – HJR 125: Creation of the Broadband Infrastructure Fund
    The constitutional amendment creating the broadband infrastructure fund to expand high-speed broadband access and assist in the financing of connectivity projects.

    If voters approve the amendment, $1.5 billion will be released to the Texas Comptroller to support broadband. These funds have already been set aside by the Legislature, but they cannot be used without voter approval. These funds are critical to expanding broadband access and adoption in Texas. With over 7 million Texans lacking in access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet, it is crucial that we educate ourselves and others on the importance of voting in favor of Prop. 8. Remember, this is not a new tax, the funds have already been set aside by the Legislature

  • Proposition 9 – HJR 2: COLA for Retired Teachers
    The constitutional amendment authorizing the 88th Legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to certain annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
    This amendment would allow the appropriation of $3.355 billion to be spent in 2024 to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for most members of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Because most school districts in Texas do not participate in the federal social security system, the annuity from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) is the only retirement benefit most retired teachers receive. Without having received a cost‑of‑living adjustment (COLA) in nearly 20 years, retired teachers have lost considerable purchasing power with their TRS annuity due to cost increases and high inflation.
Here is a link to a thorough analyses of all constitutional amendments on the ballot

Register to Vote Today!

If you are not registered to vote, you must do so by October 10, 2023, the voter registration deadline for the November 7, election. To confirm your voter registration status, you can visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Am I Registered?’ portal, which allows you to look up your voter registration record. To register, follow the directions listed on the Vote Texas website.
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