The Supreme Court ruling on May 13 against the 600+ school districts that had sued the State of Texas relative to adequacy and equity of funding for public schools should serve as a catalyst for public education advocates to come together and to begin to craft a unified message. We are blessed to have a large number of public education advocacy groups in Texas, but I sometimes wonder if this is what gets in the way of achieving the successes for which we strive.
As recently as May 20, I have had a number of discussions with legislators, some of whom actively support public education and some of whom do not even have the nearly 5.3 million Texas public education students on their radar. The former group, led by individuals such as Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, is intimately familiar with the challenges in public education and has led the charge to pass legislation to address the shortcomings.
In a conversation with Chairman Aycock on May 20, he talked about the need for both districts and advocacy groups to come together and to create a unified message. Admittedly, there will not be commonality or agreement on all issues. If that were the case, the number of advocacy groups would be significantly smaller. However, there are certain tenets around which messaging should evolve and he strongly encouraged all off us to come together and find the common ground.
I have also spoken recently with Representatives Susan King and Diego Bernal, as well as Sen. Eddie Lucio; they all “get it” and are working tirelessly on behalf of the public education students. Without question, there is greater support in the House for public education but that doesn’t mean that we should not focus our messaging on those in the Senate as well. In many cases, it simply requires that we take the time to craft our message and reach out to those who either have a limited perspective on public education or advocate for moving away from public education. Regardless of the focus, however, the time is now for us to come together.
The legislators to be sworn in in January, 2017 will likely include a number of new faces, whether as a result of retirement, election defeats, or individuals running for other elected positions. We now have just over five months until the 85th legislative sessions convenes. This is the time, the time to create messaging and the time to undertake an aggressive effort to advocate for public education with our elected officials. In short, the time is now to Make Education a Priority. Our students are looking to us for leadership on their behalf.