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Texas Public School Advocates Already Regrouping for Next Battle

July 18, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - The fight for public education funding is far from over, according to several hundred school advocates from across the state who gathered in Austin this weekend. The conference was organized by the grassroots organization Save Texas Schools, which was created during the past legislative session as lawmakers were proposing billions of dollars of education cuts to help balance the state budget.

Jason Sabo, an Austin public school parent and a volunteer for Save Texas Schools, says the message going forward is "Get ready!" Families, he says, need to brace not only for the impact of a $4 billion shortfall to schools, but also for additional cuts if the next legislature doesn't fix structural budget problems.

"Get ready for the 2012 elections, because public school parents and people who are concerned about public education will have a louder voice in 2012 than they have ever had in the history of this state."

Sabo expects to see hundreds of house parties in the next few months hosted by concerned parents trying to mobilize their communities into supporting pro-public-education candidates - regardless of party. This weekend's gathering was non-partisan. It included speakers ranging from Sen. Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, to Killeen Republican Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, who voiced concern about the effect of education cuts on military families.

Sabo says as a result of the cuts, school districts this fall will see larger class sizes, as well as fewer elective courses, full-day pre-kindergarten programs and extracurricular activities. All of Texas, he adds, will feel the larger economic ripple effects of every teacher who is laid off.

"That teacher can't buy a new home. The real estate agent can't buy a new car. If she can't buy a car at the new car dealership, they're not going to be able to hire people to work in the service department. In turn, those employees won't go to the hardware store on Saturday morning to buy home improvement stuff."

Supporters of the recent education cuts have praised the legislature for balancing the state budget in tough economic times without raising taxes. Sabo predicts local school boards and taxing authorities will quickly grow fed up as the burden to find education dollars increasingly shifts to them.

More information about Save Texas Schools is available at www.savetxschools.org/.

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX