Education News

What Teachers Think Of Gov. Abbott’s Special Session Education Agenda

Two items on the Governor’s wish-list – vouchers and school finance – proved a showdown in the regular session.

Teachers have reacted to Gov. Greg Abbott's education agenda for this summer's special session with a mix of skepticism and fierce opposition.
Teachers have reacted to Gov. Greg Abbott’s education agenda for this summer’s special session with a mix of skepticism and fierce opposition.

This summer, Gov. Greg Abbott wants lawmakers to tackle a slew of issues for Texas schools. Some of his wish-list could replay one of the biggest battles in Texas education.

The first thing on the Republican governor’s hefty education agenda might sound great to teachers: a pay increase of $1,000.

“We must do better to attract and retain quality teachers in our classrooms. I want that process to begin now,” Abbott said when he announced the session last week.

 Many teachers, however, aren’t celebrating.

“A thousand dollars a person! What a wonderful idea if someone had suggested how to pay for that!” said Gary Godsey, executive director of the Association of Texas Public Educators. The group counts 100,000 members across the state.

That’s kind of how Godsey and many other teachers view Abbott’s education agenda for the special session: a mix of skepticism and fierce opposition.

Godsey said that it’s important to overhaul how Texas pays for public schools, but that partisan politics defeated a chance to do that in the regular session. And he’s vehemently opposed to other items, especially against using public tax dollars to subsidize private school tuition for certain students, or so-called vouchers.

“This is a political battle,” Godsey said. “This is not a battle about what’s right and best for the state of Texas in terms of public education. It’s about privatizing public education.”

In fact, two items on the wish-list – vouchers and school finance – proved a showdown in the regular session, when state senators added vouchers to a school finance package and the House refused to accept the addition.

State lawmakers head back to work July 18th.

Other education-related items include: giving school administrators flexibility in teacher hiring and retention; restrictions on school bathroom use for transgender students; and prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues, which would impact teachers.

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Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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