I don’t know about you but just watching the goings on in Austin from 200 miles away is enough to wear me out. The flurry of activity surrounding public education, specifically under the leadership of Chairman Huberty, makes me wonder where those who are elected to serve find the time and energy to participate in the extended discussion and debates about issues impacting all of us. I continue to be amazed by the differences in approach between the House and Senate regardless of the issue but specifically as it relates to public education.
We all know that the Lt. Governor has focused a considerable amount of attention on vouchers (by any name), the bathroom bill and taxpayer relief. Thanks to the House, I am hopeful that the issue of vouchers can be put to bed at least until the next session. Of course, we know that they will once again be an issue regardless of whether the LG is reelected or not. The bathroom bill? I continue to be amazed at the amount of energy in the Senate being put into trying to find a problem for the “solution” introduced by Sen. Kolkhorst. And while I, like all of you, would like a lower property tax bill, I just don’t get the view that suggests that we can address (and fund) issues in Texas with this relief.
Off of my soapbox! What really strikes me is that the two chambers, perhaps reflective of leadership attitudes, are focused either on themselves and making headlines (Senate) or on the needs of those they were elected to serve (House). Admittedly, both are striving to create and approve a balanced budget as required by the Constitution but their approaches are starkly different. With both chambers having now passed their budget bill, I am anxious to see how the compromise committee arrives at a budget that, among other things, tackles the issue of school finance that the Texas Supreme Court said fell to the legislature.
I have found myself over the past couple of weeks struggling to find the time between job and other activities to focus on education issues about which we are all so passionate. And then I remember the reason we do this and it is not for our own personal agendas (unlike some!). 5.4 million students in our public education system are counting on us to represent their voices in Austin, and those who advocate for public education have done an outstanding job in promoting the dialogue. Even something as simple as writing this blog is a reminder to me that I need to step up my engagement and advocacy.
Energy sapped? Yes, it is a bit, but then I remember the kids and find my motivation in ensuring that they are given the opportunities that I was given many years ago. My hat is off to all of you who continue to make education a priority.