Thursday, February 16, 2017

Don't Give Up. Don't Ever Give Up.

Former NC State head basketball coach Jim Valvano, in a speech at the ESPY's in 1993, spoke the words of the headline to this blog.  Battling cancer, Jimmie V remained focused on the battle ahead and offered words of inspiration to so many who are faced with life's challenges.  While not a life or death situation, the battle over public education is one that lies in front of us.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past several weeks, as I am certain all of you have, pondering anticipated outcomes if Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Education secretary, how her confirmation would affect public education, how legislation in the Texas legislature would impact vouchers, and on and on.  And while Ms. DeVos was confirmed, her nomination and the subsequent hearings certainly shed light on her potential impact.  While not ignoring what she does or what we think she will do, it’s now time to move on.  The education debate is still largely a local issue, suggesting a need to refocus and redouble our efforts in the State of Texas.

In my role as president of Make Education a Priority, I have been privileged to develop friendships and relationships with a number of organizations across the state, several of which I have highlighted in prior blogs.  Last week, I received an email from Dr. Charles Luke, executive director of the Coalition for Public Schools, highlighting key talking points relative to tax credit vouchers and education savings accounts or ESA’s.  Many who read this blog will have already seen Charles’ notes but I thought it would be helpful to share with others as well.

The talking points for both vouchers and ESA’s can be found on the Coalition’s web site, www.coalitionfor, or by clicking here for talking points on tax credit vouchers and here for talking points on ESA vouchers.   Both are well written and provide good reference points for discussions with our legislators.  With Speaker Straus now having appointed members of the House Public Education Committee, now is a good time to initiate dialog with each of the members.   Click here for information about members of the committee.

On a side note, I am pleased to see the discussion surrounding the use of taxpayer dollars for education potentially being transferred to fund activities other than public education.  While some, including the Chair of the Senate Education Committee and the Lt. Governor, have suggested that this is not the case, I believe that the reality is that this is occurring.  Rep. Donna Howard, among others, has done her part to ensure that this is a topic of discussion.

The discussions and focus on the appointment of Ms. DeVos certainly energized many who had not previously been engaged in supporting our public schools.  Every day, business and community leaders as well as parents, teachers and administrators engage more, knowing the potential impact of discussions now on the table.  But we have only skimmed the surface when it comes to the need for a broader base of education advocates to step forward and make certain that their voices are heard.  Are you one of those individuals who will continue to advocate to make education a priority?

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