By Marlene Bullard and Trish Bode
As the current presidents of two school boards in Texas, we agree our districts and communities look different, but we also agree the same fundamental challenges exist for all of us in public education right now.
We also agree that parents are and should be partners in their child’s education; teachers are a deeply valued part of our communities and need to be treated as such; Texas schools need more funding; and that the choice to underfund public schools harms students, communities, and the future of our state.
Leander ISD is a suburban district and the backbone of a 200-square-mile community not far from the Texas Capitol, serving 42,000 children, with 14% of students receiving special education services, and 11.5% emergent bilingual, and a total of 65 different spoken languages.
Leander ISD serves as a connection to people from different jurisdictions and municipalities. It is a fast-growth district, adding 1,000 students every year, serving families in the cities of Austin, Cedar Park and Leander. The district offers a variety of programs to meet diverse needs as we continue to focus on student voice.
Tornillo ISD, like many rural school districts, is the hub of the community. Tornillo ISD in El Paso County serves just over 800 students, 8.3% receiving special education services, 60.7% emergent bilingual, all English/Spanish and a Title I district.
It is the largest employer in the rural community 30 miles east of El Paso. Tornillo ISD provides students with an education but also opportunity.
With over 5 million children in Texas public education in more than 1,000 school districts, many similar to Tornillo and Leander ISDs, and a $32 billion surplus, isn’t now the time to appropriately fund our children and their future?
Now is the time to dig deep and find the solutions that don’t abandon our children, their parents and the teachers found in our public education classrooms.
There are so many legislators who are working on solutions right now and this leads to the question we should be asking ourselves: Why would anyone at this juncture reasonably want to take away support and encouragement from all these Texans and do things that divide instead of uniting to focus on our students who need us now more than ever?
We are concerned trustees and will be gathering on Tuesday, April 11, with other trustees from all over Texas to advocate for our children, our parents’ voices, our teachers and staff, and our communities in public education.
Will you reach out to your elected state senator and state representative and share that your elected trustees will be up at the Capitol and that you are in support and want an emphasis on the students and public education? The success of our great state of Texas depends on the success of our students and all of us speaking up against attacks on public education and support for the people in Texas public schools. The time is now!
Marlne Bullard is president of the Tornillo ISD Board of Trustees. Trish Bode is president of the Leander ISD Board of Trustees.