Education advocate urges more public involvement

Dianna Wray

Sept. 24, 2012 at 4:24 a.m.
Updated Sept. 25, 2012 at 4:25 a.m.

People need to work together to restore Texas funding, Allen Weeks, of Save Texas Schools, told his audience.

Texas schools have seen their funding slashed in recent years and a nonpartisan organization, Save Texas Schools, is urging people to get involved and let their representatives in Austin know they don't approve.

"We've got to get together as a state and say in a unified voice that we really demand the best public education for all students," Weeks said.

Weeks spoke about the organization's various concerns and goals for the Texas education system on Monday.

About 50 people gathered to attend the event in the multipurpose room at the University of Houston-Victoria campus.

The organization is working to change the funding structure for Texas schools and to see that the state legislature restores the money cut from the education budget in 2011, Weeks said.

Last year the legislature cut $1.4 billion in grants and support for state education because of a $27 billion shortfall in the state budget, he said.

This resulted in class sizes growing while teaching positions were eliminated and electives and other programs were cut in school districts across the state, Weeks said.

"We're not in a recession anymore, we're not in an economic emergency and it's time to give it back to the schools," he said.

The organization is also encouraging the state to move away from the emphasis placed on standardized testing and its link to how teachers and schools are reviewed. This has put a strain on teachers who have stayed in the profession he said, noting that between cutbacks and the increased emphasis on standardized testing, many teachers have been leaving their jobs.

"What I've heard is that the pressure on teachers has really grown. Teachers are exhausted," he said.

Weeks encouraged those in the audience to make a point of getting involved in the education system. He said it's important to be involved at all levels because many of the problems in school districts are symptoms of bigger problems at the state level.

"We've got to get people to understand that the game is in the capitol in Austin. That's where it's won or lost," he said.

The event was sponsored by Crossroads Progressive Women and other organizations.

Kathy Hunt, president of the League of Women Voters moderated the event. The meeting was a way to bring community members together to talk about various concerns about education, she said.

"Education is everyone's business and it's just so important to all areas of life," Hunt said. "Everyone brings a particular piece of experience to this, but it takes getting everyone together to put all the pieces together."



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