Thursday, February 23, 2017

Get Loud, Be Proud!

Yesterday (February 22), I sent an email message to members of the House Public Education committee, as well as to Speaker Straus, Sen. Burton and Rep. Capriglione, the latter two who represent my district.  In that email, I outlined my position on seven key topics and asked for consideration by the committee members as they discuss public education.  Click here for the full text of the letter.

As I shared the letter with a number of people, I received feedback from one person that was very alarming to me.  One of our superintendents received a call from Rep. Todd Hunter from Rockport advising her that the email messages and phone calls in support of vouchers (by any name) were running about 10:1 in favor of vouchers.  Some of this is no doubt due to the deep pockets that are supporting this initiative but it also perhaps reflects a feeling on the part of many that the battle will not be fought in the House this term, leaving us with the status quo.

That false sense of security is one against which we must guard as the discussions about public education ensue.  And while one perhaps could argue that calls and email messages have little impact based on the results of the confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos, the reality is that many legislators are swayed by the voices of their constituents.  Remember that two Republican members of the US Senate abandoned partisan politics to vote against DeVos and one acknowledged that the high volumes of calls had an impact on her decision.  Sadly, the same cannot be said for our two Texas Senators!

So it's time to Get Loud and Be Proud.  We must all do our part to get the word out to parents and within our communities about the devastating impact that a voucher (by any name) program will have on the public schools that are the foundation of vibrant communities across the state.  We must also focus the discussion on the needs of those students who are currently underserved; ripping resources from at-risk and low performing campuses will only make the situation worse for the students in those communities and on those campuses.

The battle over vouchers (by any name) will be a protracted battle but it is clearly a battle that can be won.  We read daily that the Lt. Governor is struggling to get support from members of his own party in the Senate, especially those in rural communities who perhaps would realize the greatest adverse impact.  Only when we have defeated (again) the notion that vouchers (by any name) are the solution to the challenges we face will we be able to rest.  Even then, it is only a brief respite as we gear up for yet another effort to pass this bad legislation.

It will take all of us aggressively communicating the message, reaching out to our networks and, most importantly, to those elected to serve us in Austin.   Get Loud, Get Proud and make education a priority.

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