Guest post from Essential Class of 2017 participants M. Teresa Granillo, Executive Director of Con Mi Madre and Matt Glazer, Executive Director of Austin Young Chamber of Commerce.
My colleague, Matt Glazer, Executive Director of the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, and I volunteered to co-author this blog on education. I don’t think either of us realized how impassioned we would get in writing this piece.
We both find the U.S. education system frustrating and feel compelled to do something to change it, we have to, we owe it to the younger generation who are our future. Yet, we don’t know where to start given that education is a political matter. Matt said it eloquently, “Our elected leaders tell us that they care about children, but play shell games to ensure the only way we fund our schools are through property taxes. We have to debate robin hood laws that move resources throughout the state rather than paying for the needs of students and their families. Critically, we are now discussing ways to allocate public resources to diversify options among public AND private institutions of education while also limiting innovation inside of charter and magnate schools.”
There is plenty of data out there that tells us how we can improve student outcomes. On any given day across Central Texas, you can hear Susan Dawson or Matt Pope from E3 Alliance educating the community about the fact that missing school matters, math matters, innovation matters. I would add, parent engagement matters. But how do we utilize this data in a way that creates systemic change?
In the state of Texas, education is not just a priority, but something the founders of our state wrote into the constitution. They went so far as to make it an obligation by our state to, “support and maintain an efficient system of public free schools”. How do we fix what seems to be a broken system given that we can’t get schools, public or charter, the funds to innovate the classroom with technology that will prepare our youth for their future, to provide resources to further support families and students with whatever they need to increase attendance (e.g., health/mental health care services), to ensure that all students, and teachers, are being supported in a way that provides for a safe and efficient learning environment?
We all need to be open to a better, fairer way to impact these young lives. To lift them up and say yes to opportunities and innovation. To stop playing political football with the dollars we do or do not pump into schools. It does not make sense when we hold out for the courts to force the legislatures hand and it does not do us any good to be closed off to innovation. Data from groups like the E3 Alliance should be praised. Partnerships with high impact public schools or their charter affiliates should be applauded. Real solutions make real change and real change is essential for the long term health of our state.
NOTE: The opinions of Leadership Austin alumni, faculty members, and guest bloggers are their own, and do not represent an official position of the organization.