Growing up, I watched my mom grade papers well into the night. I watched her trek to school before dawn to prepare lessons, and I saw her sacrifice time to ensure her students learned crucial life lessons: how to tell a story, how to write a sentence and how to put critical thinking skills into action.
My mom taught public school for 28 years, most of which were at Quitman Elementary School. Every year, she was forced to buy with her hard-earned money needed supplies for her classroom and students. I never understood why she had to do that. I still don’t.
She retired in 2012, and since then, our state leaders still haven’t done enough to support public school teachers. Educators in Quitman and across East Texas still have to ask the community to help pay for coloring pencils and markers. Too often, they stand at the mercy of other’s generosity.
Lauren, a counselor at W.A. Peete Elementary School in Tyler, buys shoes, backpacks and glue for students. Teachers in Texarkana have to buy tissues for their classrooms. Teachers in Marshall have to buy poster boards for lessons.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We have to do more for our public school teachers.
My campaign recently hosted a town hall on public education with state leaders. We discussed House Bill 3, which passed in the 2019 legislative session and provided sweeping public school funding reforms. But I know that bill wasn’t enough — and Miranda, a special education teacher who joined our town hall, also knows it wasn’t enough. Educators across Texas know it wasn’t enough.
Miranda said teachers still don’t make enough money and still have to buy their own supplies. In some cases, they have to take a second job to make ends meet. And during the coronavirus pandemic, when our state leaders have failed to provide true leadership, teachers are being asked to do too much.
Too often, I hear people say teachers know what they’re getting into, so if they want more money, they should get a new job. I couldn’t disagree more. Teachers are essential to our society. Public schools are essential. Where would we be without them?
Public schools are the foundations of our communities. In the Texas Senate, I will fight every day to increase wages for teachers and school faculty because they’re worth more. They need higher salaries. They need better health care. They need more resources.
In July, I challenged my opponent, state Sen. Bryan Hughes, to a debate in Longview on public education. It’s been almost two months, and he still hasn’t responded. I can only assume he doesn’t care to discuss public schools with his constituents.
That’s not how I’ll lead. I’ll focus on public school teachers, not corporate lobbyists or business creatures of Austin. Northeast Texas teachers, school faculty, parents and former public education students will have an ally in me in the Texas Senate.
I’ll listen to teachers and East Texas voters of all political stripes.