Photo by Mike Alzamora/Arp ISD

"Talk to your legislator."

That was one of the key points expressed to Arp and Troup ISD educators Wednesday by Deann Lee, East Texas regional advocacy director of Raise Your Hand Texas.

RYHT is a non-partisan nonprofit organization that supports public policy solutions and envisions a world-class public school system that fuels a brighter future for all Texans.  Its advocacy team raises the voices of parents, teachers, community leaders, business owners, and students who care about the future of public education in order to help make informed policy recommendations to Texas lawmakers.

As our state's 88th legislative session begins in less than a week in Austin, Lee shed light on a number of issues that will be up for debate on the house floor, which will ultimately directly affect our public schools.

Lee stressed that, "Change happens when we use our voice, but let’s use it PROactively to work FOR us instead of complaining when things are done TO us."

She also explained "who does what" among our elected officials so that they could be better informed when they express their concerns to their state legislators.

Lee emphasized that, "Lawmakers can’t be experts in all areas and they 'WANT' our input on public education."

She also reminded them "EVERY child and EVERY staff member lives policy/legislation EVERY day."

Among the matters discussed were to what degree teachers are underpaid in Texas, and how our state ranks 42nd in public school spending.

Lee stated that more than $27 billion of surplus funds are available in this upcoming legislative session.

Coupled with skyrocketing inflation, and the rising employee costs of insurance benefits, the small salary raises that teachers have received over the last decade, simply don't keep up, Lee described.

She also reminded Arp and Troup educators, and administrators that a voucher plan that would allow Texas parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their kids to private schools is one of the bills set to be discussed.

Lee pointed out how a program as such, would in turn take funds away from public schools.  In addition, RYHT shared an article Monday that reveals that plans for vouchers in Texas date back to school integration during the civil rights movement.

Public school districts in the Lone Star State cannot afford to lose any type of funding as cash strapped as they already are.

Among the organization's operations, RYHT gathered input from 15,600+ people across Texas to make policy recommendations.

Lee also told the teachers that the Texas Education Code states that a Board of Trustees and Superintendent shall advocate for the high achievement of all district students and support connections with community organizations to support the high achievement of all district students.

As for getting involved and writing to their respective state legislators, Lee added that it takes only 1-5 minutes to make an exponential impact on the future of Texas through advocacy.

She reminded folks that RYHT offers advocacy training free of charge for any group interested in supporting public education.

Lee can be reached via email at