Make your letters/emails/phone calls short and sweet, covering the following three topics supported by Texas PTA:
* Restore Funding Cuts enacted in the last session. We must tell Austin to restore the $5.4 billion cut from school funding last session.
A. Richardson ISD received $14 million less in school year 2011-2012 than we would have under the previous funding formula. This school year 2012-13 we are receiving $21 million less. This is the first time since WWII the state has cut the amount of money per student. Our classrooms are crowded. Invest in our neighborhood schools now, instead of jails later. Investing in public education is pro-business, as our students are our future workforce.
B. Texas has the money. There is $12 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has forecast a surplus in the state budget. Gov. Perry said Tuesday, January 29, 2013 in his State of the State address, “the state is stronger than ever, our bank balance is healthy, our economy is growing, our future is limitless.”
C. Make education a priority in the state budget. Increased rigor in the classroom must be funded.
* Oppose Private School Vouchers and tax break schemes for vouchers.
A. Vouchers are against the Texas Constitution. Article 7 states, “A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to preservation of liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”
B. PTA believes in public money for public schools.
C. Vouchers are unaccountable, without standardized testing, and can finance questionable and inaccurate curriculum. For example, in Louisiana, 19 schools are using vouchers to pay for curriculum which sites the Loch Ness Monster as existing in science curriculum.
* Eliminate Excessive High Stakes Testing
A. Accountability-yes! Overkill-No! No other state requires 15 high stakes tests to graduate. Colleges don’t care about STAAR scores.
B. From 2000 to 2015, Texas will have paid $1.1 billion to the primary testing vendor Pearson. What are we getting for that kind of money? Pearson hires temporary workers at $12 an hour from Craigslist to grade high stakes tests. A degree in any field is all that is required.
C. No meaningful information for parents to help our kids with their weaknesses is provided from the STAAR tests.
D. Former Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said, “The current testing system is a perversion of its original intent.”
E. Scores on ACT and SAT tests have not risen over the years in Texas but stayed flat. Over-testing is not improving scores on tests that colleges actually care about.
F. Current high school testing system will increase dropout rate.
Most importantly, we must confess to our state representative and state senator that, collectively, parents didn’t pay attention to education votes in the last session. We must pledge to them that we will vote in PRIMARYelections (where the outcome is determined, as opposed to the general election) and pay attention to their education votes cast this session. REMEMBER, those who do not support public education are voting in primaries and contacting their representatives. There are more of us than them. Our kids are counting on us to speak up by writing letters, sending emails and quick phone calls to Texas legislators’ offices in Austin.
Want more information? Contact Dinah Miller, RISD PTA Council Citizenship & Legislation Chair, 214.729.2965