Proper state funding for public education is vital
By BY ROBERT JAKLICH
March 11, 2017 at 7:36 p.m.
Updated March 12, 2017 at 6 a.m.
It has been said that passions, only passions, can elevate the soul to great things.
As we reflect on the third nine weeks of school, it is clearly evident that we are surrounded by exceptional students, outstanding employees, supportive parents, a visionary Board of Trustees and a community that truly values the importance of education. With everyone's commitment and dedication to the success of "Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day," we indeed bring forth positive changes throughout the Victoria Independent School District.
As the 85th Texas Legislative Session is underway, it is imperative as school leaders that we form a "collective cause" in sharing our stories in support of public education and the amazing work that is taking place in our Texas public schools each and every day. School finance, the "A-F" accountability rating system (currently more than 553 Texas school districts representing 2.86 million of our total 5.3 million students have passed resolutions opposing these ratings), school vouchers, funding full day pre-kindergarten classes for school children statewide, adequately funding the Instructional Materials Allotment, increasing funding for transportation reimbursement (funding has not been increased in more than 30-plus years), updating outdated formula elements like the cost-of-education index and the avoidance of passing "unfunded mandates," which are requirements to carry out certain services or functions without providing the state revenue necessary to accomplish the task, are high-priority items for us all.
The VISD supports legislation that will provide a long-term solution to increase the state's funding capacity for public education. We believe that proper funding and equity are essential to the fair treatment of Texas taxpayers and Texas public school children. Movements such as Friends of Texas Public Schools, Tx Ed Tuesday, Raise Your Hand Texas and, in Victoria, our very own grassroots movement, "We Love Our Public Schools," are creating a dialogue to educate our communities regarding the serious issues that currently affect the future of public education and to serve as an advocate for our Texas public schools.
"We Love Our Public Schools" is a grassroots advocacy group that supports Texas public education. The group began "around the kitchen table" when some friends, parents and proud public school graduates decided to launch a grassroots effort to support public education in our community. It is a nonpartisan group that champions public education by sharing the good news about public education and encouraging others to communicate their pride in their school district, providing an avenue for people to support public education in becoming knowledgeable about public education issues both local and in Austin, and encouraging community members to contact their Texas Senators and Representatives on behalf of public education.
If you would like to learn more about "We Love Our Public Schools," how you too can be an advocate for public school education and/or become more informed on the issues listed above, we invite you to join us at 6 p.m. April 5 at the VISD Conference Center. As Superintendent of Schools I will have the opportunity to provide you with updates from the school district and the VISD perspective regarding the challenges we currently face during this legislative session. You will also receive a very informative presentation from Ann Smisko, Deputy Director of Policy and Programs at Raise Your Hand Texas, regarding the current bills in the legislature and proposed voucher systems.
As we prepare for the upcoming spring break, let us take a moment to reflect on our lives and the things that are most important to us. Imagine life as a game in which you are required to keep five balls juggling in the air. Let's name these five balls: Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit. You soon realize that Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce right back up. However, the other four balls - Family, Health, Friends and Spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these balls, they will become irrevocably scuffed, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They may never recover or be the same again. During this spring break let us take time to slow down and understand how this truly pertains to us. Let us take this time to revisit our family, our health, our friends, our spirit and our many blessings. Let us not take for granted the things that are closest to our heart because these are the things that make life meaningful.
On behalf of our Board of Trustees and the entire VISD, thank you for making our children your number one priority and for realizing that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.
We are "VISD Proud."
Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.