Local educators join hundreds to rally for public education

AUSTIN Several local teachers joined more than 400 educators with the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) at the Capitol March 6.

They discussed with lawmakers issues, such as opposing school vouchers, finding an equitable solution to fully funding public education, and providing affordable healthcare options for public school employees, a news release said.

“We came all the way from Andrews to Austin to talk face to face with our legislators about education policy,” Tina Hardarson, ATPE Region 18 Treasurer, said. “Public schools are responsible for the majority of Texas kids. Teachers have done great things in the classroom, but we need support from our lawmakers – not some misguided voucher program that funnels tax payer dollars to private schools. We hope to build a stronger relationship with our legislators to ensure school employees’ concerns are heard and addressed.”

Stacy Gallier, Andrews ATPE president said the legislative session kicked off with a new A-F rating system, voucher bills that seek to funnel taxpayer dollars to private schools, and “even a couple anti-educator bills aimed at silencing teachers’ voices.”

“I came here with the hopes of making Texas public schools a priority,” Gallier said in the release.

ATPE Media Relations Specialist Stephanie Jacksis said two bills – Senate Bill 13 and House Bill 510 – are aimed at stopping payroll deductions for teacher advocacy groups. In states where bills like this have passed, Jacksis said union or organization membership has dwindled. Eventually, it could mean no lobbyists for educators in the state Capitol.

Jacksis said the bills “could be a disaster for public education because nobody’s advocating for teachers” and educators.

ATPE at the Capitol is a two-day event where educators learn about education policy and connect with their elected legislators. With more than 100,000 members, ATPE is the state’s largest educator group and the voice of public education, the release said.