Rep. Tan Parker
"Serving you in the Texas House is an honor I take very seriously and my commitment remains to be accessible as we work together for a stronger, more vibrant Texas."
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – Here we are just past the mid-point for June 2020, and it feels like we have already endured the longest year in recent memory - and it's only been six months! Without question, people are being tested in unimaginable ways; but every day, I see Texans demonstrate incredible resolve, strength, and adaptability. Despite the extremely difficult challenges, Texas will overcome and continue to thrive.
While the news changes quite rapidly and an abundance of information seems to be constantly coming at us, I did want to highlight some items that are hopefully useful to you.
As always, if you have a question, comment, or need help, please never hesitate to reach out to me. Serving you in the Texas House is an honor I take very seriously and my commitment remains to be accessible as we work together for a stronger, more vibrant Texas.
Texas Schools Can Reopen This Fall (And Let's Pause the STAAR!)
The Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced this week that schools will open this fall with an emphasis on local control. More details will follow this Tuesday, June 23 as TEA and other state leaders unveil plans about returning safely to the classroom.
Please also stay tuned to announcements from your local ISD on how each school will address the start of the school year, in-person instruction, and any online service options, especially for students with health challenges. I want to thank our amazing Texas teachers and school leaders for their tremendous efforts to help keep students learning and also working tirelessly to serve thousands of meals to ensure children would not go hungry as schools were closed.
Yet as we look at the logistical aspects of getting students back on campus, I feel it is absolutely critical that we also take action to support students, teachers, and our school districts in the aftermath of this shutdown. More and more, I am being asked about how STAAR testing will be administered and how accountability metrics will be assessed. Just as students, parents, and teachers need reassurance and predictability going into the next school year, the State needs to be sensible.
My ask of the TEA is to suspend these state mandates for the 2020-2021 school year and allow for educators to instead focus on teaching our children. These are trying times and forcing testing mandates are clearly not in the best interest of our education system and most importantly, our children and teachers who have already made incredible adjustments in learning. In establishing what a return to campus looks like, we also should not prevent local ISDs from working to identify their own benchmarks to evaluate student achievement. Now more than ever, we must balance accountability with reason as the future of our great state is dependent upon the investment we make today in our youth.
Protecting the Texas Economy
This past week, I joined a bi-partisan effort calling upon our Texas U.S. Congressional Delegation to fight for an EZ loan forgiveness application for small businesses in the federal Paycheck Protection Program. It is paramount that the federal government ease burdens and put forth a system that will help small businesses from being overwhelmed in another complicated process during the most challenging time in recent history. The Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Treasury must instead create a more efficient, less-costly method so these businesses can focus on rebuilding and getting people back to work. With 85% of PPP loans being less than $150,000, a streamlined process for small businesses is paramount.
Farewell to a Great American Hero
Earlier this month, Texas and the nation said good-bye to U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson, a man of the upmost integrity and determination with unshakable values. I admired him greatly and feel incredibly blessed to have known this true American hero.
I believe Texans can learn so much from his legacy that is a reflection of a purpose led life deeply grounded in his unwavering faith and love for his family, country, and the blessing of freedom. His faith sustained him to endure unimaginable torture and isolation as a POW in Vietnam in conditions that would have broken the strongest amongst us. He returned home as a hero and took his passion to serve others and fight for his country to both the Texas and U.S. Capitols. Congressman Johnson was as genuine as they come. His story is an incredible testament of honor, integrity, and inspiration - and I pray that we never lose sight of the lessons from such a godly man who brought more goodness into this world.
May Congressman Johnson rest well in heaven as he is now home and reunited with his beloved wife, Shirley, and son, Bob.
These are only a few highlights from the past two weeks to keep you informed. Please know that my door is always open, and I welcome your feedback on any issues that are important to you. Texas is the state that continues to lead our great nation, and I am committed to working for you to make absolutely certain we remain the beacon of hope for freedom, prosperity, and economic vitality for generations to come. I look forward to staying in touch!
May God bless the great state of Texas!