Education forum held in Waco for special session

Channel 6 news reporter Kurtis Quillin reports.

WACO - The special session of the Texas legislature begins Tuesday, and education is expected to be a hot-button item. 

Saturday, nearly 50 former teachers gathered in Waco to discuss the pressing issues which lie ahead. 

Everyone in attendance of the meeting said most of the issues in Texas education tie to funding. With 30 days left in legislature, those who attended the meeting spent their time planning ways to plea to the state.

"We're here today to figure out how stop the bleeding," retired teacher Mary Duty said.

Unfunded mandates were a big topic of discussion in the meeting. Among those mandates: special education. 

"We need more funding for special education," Norman Manning, Secretary of Waco ISD's Board of Trustees, said.

Waco ISD Superintendent Marcus Nelson gave an example of a state mandated $1,000 raise for teachers, which would come from an already sparse district fund.

Teachers in attendance were also looking for improvements to the state teacher's retirement system. Among those improvements were cost of living increases teachers do not currently receive.

For Nelson, there is another bill he has been keeping his eye on that isn't related to funding -- the controversial new A-F accountability ratings system.

"Understanding how that's going to work, how those percentages will be laid out, and how t-e-a will ultimately come up with those accountability standards, we watch that very closely each week," Nelson said.

Teachers at the meeting agree the system ties in with funding. Therefore, they all are willing to make adjustments in the process. 

"The State Board of Education is going to have to make adjustments in curriculum and in some other areas that we've already been talking about in order to make sure kids in Texas get the best education," Nelson said.

Duty said it is important for everyone to call their representative and tell them how they feel on education or any other issues before they go out and vote.

 

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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