Corpus Christi (KIII News) — Excitement is building in Austin as the 86th Texas Legislature is set to begin Tuesday.
Lawmakers will deal with plenty of controversial items over the next five months including challenges surrounding the funding of Texas public schools. Not surprisingly, leaders of the American Federation of Teachers have put together a list of their legislative priorities.
There are several different topics when it comes to education, but according to Dr. Nancy Vera, president of AFT in Corpus Christi, the biggest one is funding.
AFT wants Texas public schools to be fully funded to allow students to meet the state's academic expectations, and for teachers to be paid fairly. The union said they want to do that by finding a way to maintain funding while cutting corporate tax breaks.
Maybe most important to students, AFT also wants to get rid of the A-to-F system of rating schools, which is largely based on students' test scores.
"Harmful to children. We as educators need to be able to teach what we believe, what children need, where they are with what they have," Vera said. "Because public schools educate every child regardless of where they are, and many times when you base punitive actions on one accountability standard like the standardized test, then you're not really educating students. You're turning them into robots."
Corpus Christi Independent School Board Secretary Alice Hawkins said her main concern is money being given to charter schools.
"Money taken from the fund is money that could be used to help educate our children," Hawkins said. "Big problem. Charter schools can pick and choose any student they want. They don't have to provide services for special needs kids if they choose not to. They just reject the child."
AFT said they are working with legislators, including representatives Abel Herrero and Todd Hunter and Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, to receive more funding and to eliminate the A-to-F grading system.
The CCISD provided the following statement Thursday:
"In general, CCISD joins districts statewide in monitoring the upcoming session, with particular attention to state funding for public schools as well as funding for pre-k expansion."
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