Texas’ public schools lost another champion this week with the death of former State Rep. Ernestine Glossbrenner of Alice. Her passing follows by a few weeks that of former State Sen. Carlos Truan of Corpus Christi, who also worked hard for the public schools and the people who work in them.
Glossbrenner, whose 16year legislative career overlapped with part of Truan’s, was a former math teacher when she arrived in Austin in 1977, and she brought her experience to the legislative arena. Even then, fights for smaller class sizes, stronger learning environments, higher teacher pay and adequate and equitable school funding weren’t easy. But thanks to legislators like Glossbrenner, who gave public schools and teachers more than lip service, public education was a true priority in the statehouse. During her tenure, students, their teachers and other school employees benefited from sound advances in educational policy and working conditions.
Promoting public schools was a given in that era. The questions addressed by Glossbrenner and her colleagues were about how and to what degree the state should invest to improve schools and support educators. Contrast that to today, when the governor and the legislative “leadership” are intent on tearing down the public schools in favor of privatization.
Friends and former colleagues will remember Glossbrenner’s dedication and contributions at a memorial service at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Friday) in the House chamber in Austin. She will be buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
Known as “Ernie” by friends, colleagues and education advocates, Glossbrenner chaired the House Public Education Committee and was a lifetime TSTA member. She was honored with TSTA’s Friend of Education Award and in 1992, on the eve of her retirement from the Legislature, became the first inductee into TSTA’s Hall of Fame.
“What teachers do is so important,” Glossbrenner told the delegates to TSTA’s state convention in Dallas that year. “We cannot have a United States of America if the public schools close. We can’t even have a semblance of freedom if the public schools close.”
She warned TSTA members and other educators to take nothing in the public arena for granted but to remain vigilant and politically active. “We all have a responsibility…(to) do everything we can to see to it that people who will lead public education are elected,” she added.
Her message was important then, and, today, its importance is crucial.