Students rally for education funding in Austin

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Travelling down to Austin on Monday, Humanities and AP U.S. History teacher Sarah Wiseman, along with four students, joined the Frisco PTA to partake in the Texas PTA’s rally for education funding and promoting legislative priorities in sessions with representatives at the Capitol.

“I was so excited to take my students on this trip because I want them to see how advocacy works in real life, and how it can affect change in politics and policy,” Wiseman said. “The students were able to participate in a rally to demonstrate the strength of the united voice of the PTA, by physically showing that with a crowd as well as meetings with different representatives and senators.”

Before marching to the Capitol to rally with their peers, parents, and educators from across the state, students participated in a caucus with state Representatives James Talarico (D-Round Rock) and J. M. Lozano (R-Kingsville) on political engagement and education funding.

“In this generation, we already have a problem of who’s voting and who’s not really voting, who’s registering as this one,” sophomore Ananda Ghoshal said. “I think it’s important for us to be more politically active from a younger age, because it makes us open our eyes more to what’s actually going on in the world around us, rather than just blindly following the government and not really thinking about what they’re doing to us, even though it will affect us in the future.”

Junior Sam Mills, returning to the Capitol after attending the state Youth and Government Conference in January along with his three fellow Redhawks, is hopeful the Legislature will make progress on education.

“I feel as though my presence was mostly to promote what we are really just doing as students, and that’s to learn,” Mills said. “I think that if the Legislature and the Texas government can propose solutions that would ensure that students in public schools were able to be educated in a proper way, then I think then we would definitely be better off as a state as a society.”

Beyond school funding, Mills believes that increased student activism will lead to constructive dialogue.

My presence was mostly to promote what we are really just doing as students, and that’s to learn,”

— junior Sam Mills

“Whether you agree with what many student movements have tried to represent, you know Never Again movement with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there’s definitely a lot more student advocacy going on nowadays,” Mills said. “This helps us learn sort of a bit about the future and what we want for ourselves as adults in the political world.”

This year’s PTA rally came as new state House Speaker Dennis Bonnen named school funding to be his top priority, passing a bill out of committee Monday to give Texas teachers a $5,000 raise.

“It’s my hope that the legislature comes up with a funding formula that provides relief to all school districts, both ones that are property rich and property poor,” Wiseman said. “I also hope they adequately fund the mandates that have been passed on Texas students over the last decade.”