March 21, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Austin, TX – Thousands of Texas public-school teachers and students spent Mar. 13, the first Monday of their spring vacation, at the state capitol, lobbying for the Texas American Federation of Teachers’s legislative agenda.
The union is strongly opposing bills that would prevent union dues from being automatically deducted from paychecks and that would let local governments use property taxes to aid private schools, and demanding that the state’s school-financing system provide more equitable aid to poorer districts. “I feel like public-school finance is the most important issue,” said Stephanie Guerrero Saenz, a high-school Spanish teacher from Corpus Christi, “because the only way to adequately staff our schools is if we have the money to hire more teachers.” Her students’ main complaint “is there are too many kids.” “It’s a great show of solidarity to bring people from all over the state that can connect on these issues,” said Texas AFT secretary-treasurer Ray McMurrey. “People feel the social fabric of our democracy being torn apart. They see their schools being underfunded, they know all the issues, but being able to connect the dots… is an extremely powerful ability. I’m very hopeful and excited we will have some victories this session.” Read more