The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect all aspects of our lives in untold ways for months and possibly years to come. In the short term, the coronavirus has shuttered campuses and altered instruction. In the long term, we face potentially unprecedented budget challenges and threats of the student protections, instructional quality, and educators’ rights we’ve long had in place being tossed aside in the name of “flexibility.”
The pandemic’s devastating effect on the Texas economy means every aspect of the state budget, including public education, will be scrutinized during the 2021 legislative session. Lawmakers made school finance their No. 1 priority in the 2019 session, resulting in the passage of House Bill 3 and a needed injection of new funding into our public school system. We stand to lose ground unless ATPE members work together to ensure the lawmakers elected in November will remain focused on the needs of public education, especially in light of the new challenges we face because of COVID-19.
One of your most effective advocacy tools is the ATPE Political Action Committee (ATPE-PAC). Through the PAC, you are able to pool your financial resources to support candidates and officeholders who care as much about your students as you do. When COVID-19 shutdowns began, we were one month into the 10th Annual PAC’s Peak Challenge and working toward our goal of raising $20,000 for ATPE-PAC. When schools closed, we pressed pause on all PAC fundraising solicitations out of respect for our fellow members dealing with hardships and uncertainty. It simply was not the time to fundraise.
Without a doubt, our priority right now must and should continue to be keeping our families and communities safe. But now that we have somewhat adjusted to a new way of life during this short-term crisis, we also recognize it is time to begin fighting the virus’ long-term effects on public education on another front: protecting our interests in the upcoming legislative session. We must not lose sight of the fact that crucial runoff elections are on the horizon, as well as the general election in November. To that end, the 2019-20 ATPE-PAC Committee has extended the deadline for the 10th Annual PAC’s Peak Challenge to July 31.
Our fundraising number currently stands at $14,235, as of Tuesday, May 26.
The theme for this year’s challenge is “Teach. Give. Vote.” That means you’ve already contributed to the challenge through “Teach.”
Every Texas public education employee has banded together to provide students a sense of normalcy and continued instruction during this unprecedented time. Thank you.
The next step is “Give.”
We know the time isn’t right for everyone to give, but if you are in the position to make a monetary donation, please consider taking a minute to make a one-time $5 donation at atpepac.givesmart.com
The final step is “Vote.”
If you live in an area with a runoff election, please mark your calendar for July 14, the new date for the primary runoffs. Learn about your candidates and stay up to date on all the latest election news at ATPE’s TeachtheVote.org.
We are all in this together—now and in the months to come. Stay safe, be well, and fight for public education.
Your 2019-20 ATPE-PAC Committee
Kally Evans, Chair, Willis ATPE, Region 6
Betty Berndt, Tyler ATPE, Region 7
Twila Figueroa, McAllen ATPE, Region 1
Abigail Ramford, Lamesa ATPE, Region 17
ATPE-PAC solicits contributions only from ATPE members, employees, and their families. Participation in ATPE-PAC is voluntary. Members can contribute any amount or nothing at all without affecting their ATPE membership status, rights, or benefits.