April 15, 2013 Future Educators J.E. & L.E.

Mabee foundation Education Complex Bailey Building & Palko Hall 3000 Bellaire Drive N. Fort Worth, Texas 76129

Dear Future Educators,

I hope that today, you are striving to inspire young minds. My name is Rebecca Giles, and like you I am a future educator, studying at Texas Christian University. It has recently come to my attention that congress is doing little in the way of providing funds to our public education system. In 2011 lawmakers cut 5.4 billion dollars from Texas’ education budget for the 20122013 school year (Calkins, 2013). Because of this action Texas is now nationally ranked fortyeighth in school spending per pupil (NEA, 2012). That is substantial decrease since 2009, when Texas was then ranked thirty-seventh (Calkins). On October 22, 2012 a trial ensued containing six lawsuits representing seventy-five percent of Texas’ five million school children (Calkins). In this case District Judge John Dietz’s ruled that “The court declares the current school finance system violates the Texas Constitution in that it is inefficient, inequitable, and unsuitable and arbitrarily funds districts at different levels below the constitutionally required level of the general diffusion of knowledge (Calkins).” This ruling came only slightly before both the senate and house committees released their budget plans for 2014-2015. Senate bill one proposed that

1.5 billion dollars to be restored to public education, however house bill one proposed that 2.5 billion dollars be restored. Although these proposals bring some money back into the system, they far from alleviate all the financial pains public schools budgets are feeling. Fort Worth Independent School District alone has to make cuts in both administration and supportive services (Johnson, 2013). During a recent interview Deputy Superintendent Hank Johnson very accurately stated that “education should be a priority, that changing the state of our current economy will depend on our children receiving a high quality education (Johnson).”

As future educators it is our job to give students a high quality education. Yet, we are being limited in our ability to do so based on the decisions of politicians. If we do not speak out now against these budget cuts, before we ever step into a classroom. how are we going to say we have done the best for our students? Now is the time to call, mail, and email our local senators and house representatives to reinstate the slashed 5.2 billions dollars. We need show the political system that we will stand together united, and will not allow them to rob our children of a quality education. Once we become teachers it is important that we continue to stay informed on these issues by tracking these bills and consistently speaking out to our local politicians. It may seem impossible to run an excellent classroom as well as being involved in community issues. But who better then we can make these changes possible?

Sincerely, Rebecca Giles

Reflection

Before conducting any research on the educational budgets addressed in Austin, I was ignorant to how heated a topic it was to everyone in the educational system. As I began gathering research articles I noticed that there was a conscious in the voice of educators and those in the education field. There are many people, including State Senator Wendy Davis, and the Texas State Teachers Association who is displeased with the action Congress is making in recovering only a small portion of the 5.2 billion dollar cut made to education in 2011. I fell that Senator Davis is correct in wanting the full amount restored to the budget, but that by voting no on SB1, no relief at all is coming to schools, and vital programs such as transportation and special education. Because of these cuts programs are being dramatically downsized. My observation on how “active citizenship” is or isn’t being carried out is based on the realization that this issue is virtually unknown. It is not an issue that is at the for-front of news. It is only well known to those following educational news. I feel that there should be more exposure to the general public especially to parents who have children in the public education system. My first thought when I found out that Texas was ranked forty-eighth in spending per student (NEA, 2012) I was outraged. Like most parents I value my children’s education and wonder why our children’s education means less to this state then forty-seven other states. I think news programs, newspapers, and the Internet should be doing a better job of informing the public on issues that affect its children. I also think that schools should be holding public meetings that inform parents of the schools yearly budget, and what types of cuts they will have to make. Many parents are simply unaware of how they are able to speak out and help the schools and

their children. As an educator becoming more informed will make me help my student make better choices as citizens in their communites

References

Calkins, L. (2014). Texas school finance system unconstitutional, judge rules. New York, New York: Bloomberg. Retrieved from http://bloomberg.com/news/print/2013-02-04/texas-schooldistricts-challenge-funding

National Education Association. (2012). Ranking & Estimates: Ranking of the states 2012 and estimates of school statistics 2013.

Johnson, H. (2013, Aapril 12). Interview by R Giles. Public education.