I would have put this in the Texas forum, but it's not strictly gun related. Actually it's not gun related at all.

I would like to bring to your attention the actions being taken on Texas House Bill 2.

I take this summary from the Texas Federation of Teachers:


[QUOTE]--HB 2 would not even provide enough money to undo the cuts in education funding passed last session. Those cuts exceeded $3 billion.

--HB 2 would not provide a real across-the-board pay raise for teachers; unlike the state pay raise in 1999, this bill lacks guaranteed funding and omits strict language to make sure the money actually finds its ways into teachers' paychecks. HB 2 also imposes arbitrary "performance pay" schemes that would leave the vast majority of educators empty-handed despite their effective contributions to student achievement. Tying bonuses for a few teachers to student test scores is an attempt to claim credit for raising teacher pay without spending the money really needed to reward educators decently for the knowledge and skills they bring to the classroom.

--HB 2 falls billions of dollars a year short of funding compliance with all the requirements and achievement goals in state law. It would shortchange funding for students with the greatest challenges to overcome, such as those with limited English proficiency and those from low-income households. It would erode the state's commitment to equity; over time the funding available to educate a child again would depend more and more on the local property wealth where that child resides--in violation of the state constitution.

--Instead of keeping the legislature's promise to restore the health-care stipend for school employees that was cut last session, HB 2 actually would repeal that commitment! Some 300,000 dedicated support employees would get nothing instead of the $1,000 stipend they were promised by the legislature in 2001 and again in 2003. (For teachers, the bill just takes the stipend money out of one pocket, puts it back as salary, and tallies the sleight-of-hand transaction as an increase in teacher pay.) Breaking the promise to restore the health-care stipend fully for all school employees is by itself reason enough for you to oppose HB 2.

--For all its talk of performance incentives, HB 2 also would create a strong performance disincentive, in the form of an exemption from state quality safeguards for schools rated "exemplary" under the state accountability system. Under HB 2, an "exemplary" school or district no longer would have to comply with state guarantees of class-size limits, teacher certification, planning periods for teachers, duty-free lunch for teachers, state minimum pay and contract standards for teachers, and vitally important state discipline standards in Chapter 37 of the Education Code. In other words, as a "reward" for excellent achievement, teachers and their students would forfeit the decent conditions for learning and instruction that made such high achievement possible in the first place.
This is horrible for the children of Texas. Simply horrible.

This bill is not a good ideal at all. I'd also like to bring it to your attention that textbook funding is being cut, and by the way, they're trying to cut down my retirment benefits while still requiring me to pay in the same amount. It's like being trapped in Social Security but slightly worse. Thanks Senator Robert Duncan.

The so called $3000 raise is a red herring. That "raise" won't mean a darn thing if the rest of this stupidity passes because I'll be spending it all on classroom supplies that my district won't be able to provide for me any more. It also means very little in light of what they've done to my medical benefits stipend. Oh, and another thing: The funding for the raise is not guaranteed, and it will be phased in a few hundred dollars at a time. This basically means a small raise at a high cost of spending more on my personal pay and less on your kids. It also means that struggling school districts are not going to have the funding to cover it at all since the state isn't footing the bill. I work for a strong district so I would personally benefit, but if you live in a rural part of the state, you're up the creek without a paddle.

This bill is being made by people who want to try to give you a quick fix in the name of being re elected. There is no "Let's give a teacher pay raise and a tax cut" bill. You can't do both at the same time. That makes no sense.

I had a meeting earlier today. If this bill passes, it will put a few hundred dollars in my pocket, but at what cost? It's not worth it.

By the way I work with 16 year olds who don't know how to multiply two numbers together. Nice to see I'm being rewarded for taking on the challenge when these students come up six questions short of passing a standardized test. Never mind the fact I have a kid in there now who's factoring quadratic equations when at the beginning of the year he couldn't subtract 7 from 2.

Oh and they tried this performance based idea before too. Basically what happens is pretty much most of us qualify for it, and then only a few of us actually get it because the state funding dries up very quickly. Basically you can have two teachers who are highly rated working in the same school teaching the same subject to the same grade level and one will get the bonus and the other one will not.

People who support the idea of achievement based teacher salary bonuses tell me all the time the problem with my profession is that it doesn't work like a business. I have to agree. In no private employment would you find such a ridiculous proposal.

I don't pretend to know all the answers for school funding issues, but this isn't it.

Governor Perry is no friend of the Texas school teacher and neither are most members of our state legislature. Let's put these people in the unemployment line.

Oh yeah here's some other nice provisions of this bill:

--HB 2 would require the commissioner of education to hand over low-performing schools to private operators, instead of granting those campuses the resources they need to carry out an effective improvement plan.

--HB 2 would make the bulk of a much-needed teacher pay raise depend entirely on passage of the ill-conceived revenue bill and constitutional amendment described above.

--HB 2 would erode due process, allowing school districts to fire teachers in the middle of their contract term based on a claim of "financial exigency"--without proving that claim in front of an independent hearing officer.

--HB 2 would give districts an incentive to hire teachers who are less than fully certified, by allowing districts to pay such teachers less than the state minimum salary.

--HB 2 would tie performance bonuses to student test scores, gauging teacher effectiveness by a yet-to-be-invented, unscientific methodology.