Between the regular session and the special session, it was easy for public education advocates to hit the wall! I know that I did. When you hear nothing but criticism (from much of Austin), it’s easy to throw your hands up in the air and resign yourself to the actions of the legislature. And that’s exactly what many want us to do, led by the Lt. Governor and the chair of the Senate Education Committee.
But that’s the last thing that we all should be doing! Much has been written and several groups have initiatives underway to address the constant barrage of public education criticism. In this blog, I’d like to highlight two specific initiatives.
Texans for Public Education, a group founded by Troy Reynolds, (Facebook – texans4publiced; texansforpubliceducation.com; Twitter - @texans4e) has done a very nice job of putting together a scorecard of where each legislator stands on public education. His is an evolving process and with the support and input of all of us, he is constantly updating the “grades” of each legislator. He also offers specific commentary about reasons and actions that support the “grade”.
Texas Educators Vote (texaseducatorsvote.com), launched by the Texas Association of Community Schools (web – tacsnet.org; Twitter - @tacsnet) under the leadership of Barry Haenisch and Laura Yeager, was developed as a campaign prior to the last general election to drive increased voter participation by educators … and it worked! Now back and newly refined, Texas Educators Vote is focused not just on getting out the vote, but making sure that educators have access to information that helps them understand which candidates are supportive of public education.
Texas educators can make a difference at the polls and certainly continue to do so on a daily basis in the classroom. It’s sad that some in Austin fail to acknowledge educators’ efforts but the next round of primaries and the general election will serve as a great opportunity to change the mindset in Austin.
What all of this boils down to is the need for educators to engage in the election process. Although educators are often criticized and challenged for their efforts, these two outstanding groups have taken the initiative to change the culture in Austin. They are not alone but they can only do so much. It’s up to educators and others who support public education to engage and act … now. It’s time for us to do our homework on who supports public education and do what we can to ensure that those individuals have a seat in Austin, a seat that will make education a priority for the more than 5.3 million Texas public education students.