Spring 2017

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 20 of 43

ATPE NEWS 21 he first is that education can solve our most pressing problems—poverty, hunger, inadequate health care, the lack of affordable housing, unemployment, crime, the need for criminal justice reform, and many more. It is the one issue that can affect all others. Second is my belief that in order to unlock education's immense potential, it must be offered to all students fairly and equitably. The idea that educational opportunities are determined by zip code is un-American and falls short of the greatness of Texas. Although the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the public school finance system meets minimal constitutional requirements, meaning nothing has to change, the inequity of the public school finance system—and the absurdity of this ruling—is obvious to the naked eye. That reality, lived by more than 5.23 million students in every corner of the state, means that Democrats and Republicans alike have a moral obligation to find ways to improve public education in spite of the Court's failure. In politics, it is often the case that elected people talk to other elected peo- ple and other "leaders." There's nothing wrong with that, and it can yield valuable information, but my team and I wanted to get to the core, to the bedrock, of public education. We want our work to be useful, to be felt and meaningful. So we went local. Texas House District 123 includes campuses from three school districts— San Antonio ISD, North East ISD, and Northside ISD. It is one of the most economically diverse districts in Texas, a fact reflected by the campuses and their surrounding neighborhoods. We wanted to know if there were similar experiences, issues, themes, and patterns that linked these schools and dis- tricts together. We wanted to start by identifying what they had in common. We decided the only way to do that was to go to each campus and talk to educators—the people who do this work for a living every day. I asked my staff to set up meetings with the principals/educators at every public school in our district. There are 55 campuses total. I met with them all. The only ideas and recommendations that made their way into my final report are the ones that I heard again and again, everywhere. Every point listed below was repeated, confirmed, and verified by educators during the 55 school visits, as well as by scores of individual teachers, parents, and stu- dents that I met and continue to meet with across campuses and districts. This document is a blueprint for nonpartisan, common-sense education policy in Texas, both in terms of practical action items and school finance priorities. During my visits, I didn't find Democrats or Republicans, conser- vatives or liberals; I only found people who wanted the best for our students. After more than 55 campus conversations and dozens of others, here are excerpts of what they said. My commitment to public educa tion is rooted in two core beliefs.

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