Winter 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

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Page 27 of 43

MEMBERS SPEAK 28 ATPE NEWS Turning Passion into Action Five Steps for Making a Difference in Texas Education BY CATHY DUVALL PRIORITIZE YOUR ISSUES/CONCERNS. Don't try to fix everything at once. With information and assistance from our GR team, I testified twice before the SBOE. It felt great to stand up for what I be- lieved in. After ATPE Lobby Day, I made an appointment to speak with my representative. She said she rarely heard from educa- tors—about anything. I was sad and embarrassed that she might construe that inaction as a lack of interest. You and I know better! ENGAGE IN CONVERSATIONS. You don't have to come to Austin to make a difference. Share your expertise as an educator with ev- eryone who will listen, including your legislator. Tell your story of how funding, pending school board action, or legislation impacts Texas students. The more educated we are about a topic, the more sound our decision making can be. COMMIT TO 30 MINUTES, AN HOUR, OR MORE. What can you do to further your cause? No action is too small. Write a Facebook post supporting public education. Send an email to elected officials about how legislation will impact your stu- dents and your school. Write a letter to your local newspaper sup- porting teachers' efforts to meet the needs of all students. Talk with family and friends about the issues that concern you. As Dr. Seuss says in The Lorax, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not." I don' t consider myself a political animal, but as a teacher, I do have opinions about education. Once I started speaking up for my students, it really wasn't that hard. Here are five simple steps to making an impact during this legislative session. PAY ATTENTION. I used to bemoan the current state of affairs without taking action. I didn't even have a clear understanding of who was responsible for what. It wasn't until I started to pay attention to ATPE's legislative information that I began to advocate for my career and my students. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not stand idly by." Time to take action! EDUCATE YOURSELF. ATPE has an outstanding Governmental Relations (GR) team. They helped me un- derstand the major players in Texas education: the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC), the State Board of Education (SBOE), the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and the legislature. During ATPE Lobby Day (next year, known as ATPE at the Capitol), our GR team walked members through the issues and explained how to advocate. They provided everything we needed to be successful: transportation to the Capitol, maps of the building, and materials to leave with legislators we visited. I even had the honor of serving on sev- eral SBEC and TEA committees. That service gave me valuable insight into those entities' challenges and opportunities. 1 2 3 4 5 DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO SHARE? Email with Members Speak submissions. Cathy Duvall recently retired after 40 years in education. She has been an ATPE member for 36 years. Cathy Duvall (right) meets with a legislative staffer during ATPE Lobby Day in 2015.

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