Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rep. Diego Bernal – A Legislator Goes Back to School

In May, I published a blog outlining the plans for Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) to visit all of the schools in his district so that he could develop a better understanding of the needs of students and staff in his district.  I was pleased to see an article recently in which he summarized his views of the issues he found when visiting the 55 campuses in three ISD’s in his district.  To read his article, What They Said: What I Learned from Conversations with Texas Educators, please click here.

Several things struck me as I read his summary of findings but what really resonated with me is his commitment to maintaining an open mind as he traveled his district and a willingness to listen to different points of view.  His efforts are fairly unique in that he personally took the opportunity to learn firsthand what he could, actions that no doubt will have a positive impact on decisions he will make when it comes to public education.  Will he always agree with my position?  It’s not likely but I applaud and thank him for his efforts.

Rep. Bernal touched on many topics; the following are but a few:
  •         Importance of quality instructional time
  •         Incentives to hire (and retain) experienced teachers
  •         Dual language programs
  •         Testing practices
  •         The stigma of an A-F rating system
  •         Importance of pre-K
  •         Need for technology to support curriculum

His efforts to understand the challenges and complexities of the public education environment should be lauded by all public education advocates.  All too often, legislators are faced with a vote on a topic and have to rely on others (peers or staff) to help them understand the issues.  Reaching out to campus and district leaders directly will enable Rep. Bernal to be one of the influencers when it comes to a discussion and debate about public education.

Without a doubt, party lines will be drawn in the discussion about public education but if his peers take the time to read his report and to listen to his input, not only will they be better able to understand the issues but the students will benefit directly.  It’s my hope that others in the legislature will take the time to understand the issues and opportunities found in public education and that the combined effort will build a platform to Make Education a Priority.  Thank you, Rep. Bernal, for your service and your leadership.  On behalf of all public education advocates, we look forward to working with you in the 85th legislative session.

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