Want to make your mark on public education policy? Casey Hubbard discusses her experiences fighting for public education and shares three critical ways public educators can make their voices heard.
1. Volunteer for a State Committee
Did you know that state agencies sometimes ask ATPE to provide names of educators who could serve on advisory committees? These committee members provide critical input on advocacy-related issues.
I was honored to serve on the state Educator Prep Committee in 2015-16. When ATPE asked for volunteers who would be willing to speak for teachers in different forums, I signed up right away. I am passionate about public education and knew this was an opportunity to share my dedication to my career!
The committee met once a month, but I joined virtually from my home computer. In the first meeting, I felt overwhelmed because I was not familiar with the topic we were discussing. But during the second meeting, we discussed special education, which is my area of expertise. I shared my experience in the teacher education program at Texas Woman’s University and how it prepared me for teaching in the field.
Another topic we debated was student teaching programs. Many committee members agreed that there were not enough benefits to entice qualified educators to become student teaching mentors and advisers. We discussed creating a program that teaches mentors how to better support their student teachers and understand university requirements. I drew upon my experience working with student teachers in my classroom, as well as my mother’s experience as a supervisor for student teachers.
The biggest challenge of being on the committee was finding the time. The committee met in Austin and I live in Coppell, but thanks to technology, I was able to join the meetings. If I could not virtually attend, I would read the meeting agenda and email the committee chair my thoughts. I was the only committee member currently teaching in a public school classroom, so I knew my perspective was valued!
2. Volunteer for a Pro-Public Education Candidate’s Election Campaign
During the last round of primaries, I volunteered for Bennett Ratliff’s campaign for Texas State Representative. Bennett is very involved in my school district (Coppell ISD) and served on the school board for one term. He worked hard to reduce the number of end-of-course exams in high school. Because of his dedication to public schools, I decided to get involved in his campaign.
My part was small but important. I walked the block reminding people to vote. I talked to anyone who would listen about my experience as a classroom teacher and how Bennett supported public schools and teachers. I also stood at the poll with the current school board president to talk to people about Bennett as they came to vote. Ultimately, Bennett lost that campaign, but I gained many new friends—including Bennett! At our spring ATPE meeting, he even came by to say hello and share his appreciation.
3. Serve on an ATPE Committee
This past spring, I served on the ATPE Political Action Committee (PAC). I saw firsthand how the PAC supports pro-public school candidates.
I also served on the ATPE Legislative Committee. As a member of the committee, I provided input on ATPE’s legislative priorities. The items we voted on at the meeting will be brought to the floor this summer at the House of Delegates during the ATPE Summit.
The work we did in the committee guides ATPE’s Governmental Relations team (they are truly our voice at the Capitol) and ultimately impacts what legislation gets passed (or not passed).
Being involved in ATPE has reminded me why I wanted to work in government so long ago. I wanted to make a difference in my world—and as a public school special education teacher, I’ve been able to do just that!
But I don’t just impact the students I teach. Because I’m an ATPE member, I have a larger impact on my community AND my state.
I encourage all ATPE members to consider serving on an ATPE committee or a state committee. Many teachers think they don’t have the knowledge to contribute, but I say we all do! As public school teachers, we must make our voices heard.
Casey Hubbard will be starting the 2017-18 school year as an educational diagnostician in Denton ISD. She has been an ATPE member since being a university student in 2005.
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