Most have probably seen the continued attack on public education and push for vouchers (by any name) by our Lt. Governor. Perhaps I should rephrase that since he is really not representing us on the issue of ESA’s but continues to push his personal agenda. Do I think he is sincere about his commitment to vouchers? If there was any doubt, those doubts were put to rest last week when he insisted that he will continue to push for vouchers “session after session after session”.
The good news is that public education advocates are equally as committed to advocating for the 5.3 million students in our public schools. We, too, are committed to the cause “session after session after session” but the thrust of our efforts, unlike the LG, is not on individual agendas but on the needs of a growing and rapidly changing student population in Texas. As I talk with other advocacy groups, elected school board trustees, and members of the communities our districts serve, I am constantly reminded not only of the value of our public school system but the increased advocacy at all levels. But we must not stop!
There is a segment of those elected to serve as our representatives in Austin, primarily in the Senate, who will continue to push for privatization and a shift of dollars out of our public school system. As evidenced by the comments by Rep. Bohac made to Rev. Charles Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children during the House public education committee hearing last week, there are those in the House who support vouchers (by any name) as well. He is entitled to his position on this issue; so, too, are we entitled to ours and, more importantly, all students in our schools deserve our continued support.
The “good news” about the attacks on public education is that all of the cards are on the table. We have a pretty good sense of what the LG sees as his priorities for the upcoming session and, as leader of that chamber, he can exert a great deal of influence on his members. But that is still a small group of individuals and many of those have openly stated that they are not in alignment with his beliefs.
The challenge now is for all of us to ensure that the message regarding the value and importance of public education resonates throughout the halls of the capitol. This will be the case “session after session after session” as we continue to make education a priority. We can have an impact and it’s imperative that we all do our part to ensure that the needs of students are the driver for action, not individual agendas and principles.