Day: February 22, 2017

If educators don’t hold legislators accountable for education policy, who will?

 

Few, if any, people get elected to state office in Texas without the votes of many educators. That may sound strange for a state that ranks a miserable 38th in per-student funding, but it’s true. It’s why we have a governor, a lieutenant governor and many legislators who only pretend to care about public schools and the children they serve.

Many of Texas’ 650,000 public school employees simply do not make education a priority when they cast their votes on Election Day, and that is their right. That also is the reason that many end up feeling cheated or ill-served when their classrooms remain under-funded, their students over-tested and enrollment in critical programs such as special education gets capped. It’s also why the governor and the lieutenant governor peddle the absolutely bad idea of private school vouchers while ignoring school kids’ real needs and are convinced they can get away with it.

“When will lawmakers get held accountable for their hand in this?” someone wrote this week on TSTA’s Facebook page.

That’s a good question, and the answer largely depends on educators – as well as the parents who don’t always vote in the best interests of their children’s educations either.

If you really want to start making a positive difference for public education and don’t know who your state senator and state representive are, then first things first. Click on this link, fill in your home address and under “district type” choose Senate and then House to find out who they are and how to contact them:

http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx

Then contact them. If you want more funding for your students’ or your children’s classrooms and less standardized testing, tell them. Tell them to invest some of the $12 billion in the Rainy Day Fund in our public schools. Tell them you live and vote in their districts. And if you don’t want them to spend your tax dollars on private school vouchers or education savings accounts or tax-credit scholarships (other names for vouchers), tell them that too.

If you are a TSTA member, regularly check our website and your email for legislative updates and alerts when critical votes are approaching, so you can contact your legislators again.

After the legislative session ends later this spring, and the dust settles – for good, bad or worse – on public schools, remember that next year will be an election year. TSTA will be endorsing candidates of both parties in a number of races – governor, lieutenant governor, the House and the Senate – on one issue, education, what they did or didn’t do for the educators and school children of Texas.

These records will be written in Austin over the next few months. Now, is the time for legislators to hear from educators and parents, and Election Day is the time for educators and parents to hold legislators and other state leaders accountable.