I’ve written a few blogs recently acknowledging the heroes who are leading the fight for public education in Texas under the banner of Profiles in Courage. But in light of the criticism that they continue to receive from Empower Texans (by any name), Michael Quinn Sullivan, Tim Dunn and others whose deep pockets are trying to change the face of education in Texas, I thought it would be relevant to laud the public education advocates for their efforts and the successes achieved every day in classrooms across Texas.
If anything, the constant barrage of negativity from ET and others has served as motivation for public education advocates. With efforts ranging from Texas Educators Vote to the #blowingthewhistle campaign as a response to an ET mailing to educators across the state, educators and those who support public education and the constitutional requirement for the state to provide an “efficient system of free public schools” are coming together to ensure that the public is aware of the tremendous impact of public education on more than 5.4 million students in Texas.
The easy road would be for educators to say, “oh, well”, and focus their efforts solely on what goes on in the classroom. But they recognize the implications of efforts by ET, MQS and others and the absolutely demoralizing impact it can have on the future of public education. Instead of worrying about how to use deep pockets to make their pockets deeper by funding and influencing legislators as some do (by any name), public education advocates are using their “teacher voice” as a powerful tool in telling their story. Instead of falling prey to the attacks on public education in general, and teachers and board members in particular, they are exercising their civic responsibility to speak out publicly and at the polls.
The commitment of public education advocates is to the students in our Texas public schools and that is as it should be. What is truly rewarding is to acknowledge their commitment and conviction to do what is right for students. While it would be easy to focus on the negativity from groups like Empower Texans, that would only serve to reinforce their “race to the bottom”. The real heroes in the discussion about the future of public education should be on those who dedicate their efforts to students every day to making public education a priority.