Taken strictly at face value, some have criticized the recent appoints by TEA Commissioner Mike Morath as not representing the nearly 5.3 million Texas public education students. If you look at the resumes and backgrounds of the newly appointed officials, there is perhaps cause for concern. Rather than jump to conclusions, however, I believe that we should carefully weigh the experience factor and some certainly do have extensive experience in education. The fact that much of it may not be in public education suggests that perhaps we take a bit more of a wait and see approach rather than rush to judgment.
Commissioner Morath has spent a considerable part of his first almost four months in his position reaching out to education groups across the state. He has engaged in extensive dialogue with superintendents, trustees, and advocacy groups such as Make Education a Priority. Bobby Rigues, founder/CEO of MEaP, and I met with the commissioner shortly after he was sworn in in early January and found him to be very interested in understanding our perspectives on public education. We are grateful for that and will continue the periodic conversation in support of our advocacy efforts. It’s refreshing to me that he has shown interest in understanding our position.
The commissioner, as most know, served as a school board trustee in Dallas ISD prior to his appointment so he clearly has a background in understanding some of the needs and challenges of public education. Whether we all agree with his position is not the issue to me. The issue is how well we can engage in conversations with the commissioner and have the opportunity to share why we believe there needs to be greater support for public education.
So what does this all mean? With the lines of communication clearly open, and with a commissioner who is willing to have conversations with advocated of public education, the focus now shifts to those of us who advocate for the children in our public schools. We may not agree with everything that comes out of the commissioner’s office (or from his staff) but I do believe his office will continue to strive to Make Education a Priority. It’s up to all of us to ensure that our views, and ultimately the needs of those we serve, are heard.