200 Texas educators lobby at Capitol


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist SCOTT McKENNEY

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Posted on January 24, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 24 at 7:01 PM

AUSTIN -- Nearly 200 educators from the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) came by the bus load to the state Capitol Thursday afternoon to lobby for education reform.

"Public education deserves the support of the legislators. It is not the big, bad wolf. Teachers are not the bad guy," said TCTA Legislation Committee Chair Thomas Nichols.

Educators went door to door to talk with their representatives and were even able to get Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo to step out of a meeting to talk with them.

Wednesday Seliger filed a bill to decrease the number of standardized tests. "Senate Bill 225 is the one that dealt with the testing that has the test number go from 15 to five required for graduation. I got that from educators," he said.

Tests are one of the hot topics for the educators.

"Testing is over the top," declared Nichols. "It's way too much. Too much emphasis on testing. We need to be educating. In fact, the new STAAR objectives include collaboration, communication, higher order thinking skills, how do you test that?"

Another talking point for the educators was their retirement.

"The majority of teachers and educators in the state, which includes administrators, para-professionals, do not have Social Security to fall back on. So any impact or any changes made on the Texas Retirement System is going to adversely effect the people that are giving their lives to educating our children," explained Nichols.

The number one thing the educators were lobbying for was funding. Last session lawmakers cut $5.4 billion from public education. Money teachers say is desperately needed.

"Public schools are a real priority. It's the biggest piece of budget. It's the most important thing that we do, and so we never discuss additional funding without talking about public schools," said Seliger. 

But he also noted that education is not the only entity in need of more state money.

"Our basic enrollment growth is going to be funded, which is funding another 85,00 children a year. In terms of additional funding, yes, but we're going to have to compete with transportation and Medicaid and all those things."

The TCTA educators will be in Austin through the weekend for their annual convention.