Texas School Advocates March to Kick Off Election Season
Friday, March 23, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas – Last year's Texas Legislature filled a $27 billion budget hole largely by reducing spending on services such as public education. The move is now emerging as a major campaign issue in key Texas districts. Teachers, parents, and other school advocates from across the state will march on the Capitol tomorrow to call attention to the fallout from the cuts.
Linda Bridges, president of Texas' American Federation of Teachers (AFT), predicts the Save Texas Schools rally will also motivate voters to support candidates who pledge to restore funding.
"It is really important, as we move into the political season, to put politicians on notice. And there's no better way to do that than all of us coming together and sending the strong message that we support our public schools."
Candidates will also face pressure from fiscal conservatives, such as small-government Tea Party activists who supported last year's budget cuts. This week, a coalition of conservative policy groups called on politicians to commit to even deeper cuts next session.
With per-student spending in Texas already reduced this year by six percent, and a further reduction expected next year, Bridges says programs are being eliminated that help some of the neediest students prepare for the new, more rigorous state assessment tests mandated by the Legislature.
"We have seen cuts of somewhere between 20 and 30 thousand teachers and support personnel. We've seen class sizes get larger. All of this has an impact on the quality of the service we provide our students."
The next Legislature may have to deal with quite a bit more than just balancing the budget, depending on the outcome of a lawsuit filed by hundreds of Texas school districts challenging both the adequacy and fairness of the entire school funding system.
Information about the rally is online at savetxschools.org.
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