Given the challenging year we’ve had, I’m especially grateful for the Thanksgiving holiday this season because it provides all of us a much-needed opportunity to reflect on our blessings with focused gratitude. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless cycle of negative news, the Thanksgiving holiday serves to re-center our perspective to that of positivity and gratitude. In doing so, we unlock the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. Thankfulness makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates hope for tomorrow.

As the late poet, Maya Angelou, once said, “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol. . .

Capitol Update

I recently joined my colleagues in drafting a letter urging the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to cancel or suspend the 2020-2021 STAAR test. Given the massive challenges and disruptions Texas schools have endured due to COVID-19 during the first semester, I firmly believe that this is a prudent step that must be taken to alleviate the burden that high-stakes testing puts on students and teachers. As our educational communities work tirelessly to adapt to circumstances that vary from school district to school district, there is simply no way to ensure consistent, quality instruction for all schoolchildren. Giving teachers the flexibility to administer their own diagnostic exams to address the learning gap that some students have suffered because of school closures and virtual learning challenges just makes good sense.

In coordination with TEA, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), Governor Abbott recently announced a $420 million reimbursement program to cover costs incurred by Texas public schools that purchased eLearning devices (such as laptops, tablets, etc.) so students could learn remotely. This investment, along with the $362 million in federal CARES Act funding that has already been allocated for reimbursement, will help ensure our schools — especially those in rural areas — are made whole for costs incurred in the 2019-2020 school year to help students have access to the devices they need. School systems may apply for these reimbursement funds beginning on Friday, November 20. For more information, please visit the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) Reimbursement Programs page at: www.tea.texas.gov.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our District office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Happy Thanksgiving!