Lege summit 2017

State representatives met with area education officials Sept. 14 during the annual Texas Public Schools Legislative Summit at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Legislation, education on agenda for annual 'Summit'

Thu Sep 14, 2017

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State representatives met with area education officials Sept. 14 during the annual Texas Public Schools Legislative Summit at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The event, organized by Longview ISD in partnership with local businesses and civic groups, is part of an ongoing effort by the district to raise awareness for education issues that impact all Texans, and the entire nation.

First started by state Reps. Jay Dean and Gary VanDeaver in 2016, the summit focuses on looking at how elected officials can support and represent schools.

This year's presenters include Tim Lee, executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association; Blake Cooper with the Friends of Texas Public Schools; Wayne Pierce, with the Equity Center; Marty DeLeon with the law firm Escamilla & Poneck; and Amy Beneski, deputy executive director of government relations for the Texas Association of School Administrators.

Presentations consisted of topics on various bills that are on the floor and passed during the 85th Legislative Session. Other presentations included: “From Mayhem to Miracle: The Challenge and the Opportunity,” “Goals for Friends of Texas Public Schools,” “Report Card on House & Senate Members Concerning Public Education.”

Dean, VanDeaver, Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), and Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) took questions from educators and talked about the challenges facing public education in Texas.

All four elected officials expressed opposition to "vouchers" or exhorted the importance of school administrators and board members to let their convictions guide them in the ballot box.

"Funds have to benefit every kid in every zip code," said Pierce.

Cooper agreed, adding that Texas voters "have to cut the head off the snake."

"In some of these districts, it is less than 100 votes that separate us from doing so," he said. "We have to get under the same umbrella and join forces to clean up Austin. Our kids cannot be political pawns to privatize education."

Longview ISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox echoed these sentiments.

"We are all singing the same song, but it means nothing without action," he added.