Thursday, February 18, 2016

TEPSA Voting Series: Stand Up for Children!

From the Tribute to Texas Children monument
on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol
TEPSA has always been dedicated to assisting principals, assistant principals, and supervisors in providing the children of Texas with a superior education. Education provides our children, your children, with the skills to further their education through college or to find a worthwhile job after high school. Maybe even more important, it provides them with the skills to be a good citizen and to appreciate the beliefs, ethnicity, and race of all people.

I am afraid that our elected officials and extremists groups are actively working to undermine the basic tenet of the Texas Constitution, Article 7, Sec 1, "...being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools."  How can this happen when groups help elect legislators whose goal it is to destroy public education and replace them with a system of disjointed, for-profit schools that cater to the few. And which we the people have little control.

I hate to admit it, but educators have allowed this to happen! We have not loudly and proudly supported those politicians who support education. We have allowed radicals to take over our system of legislating education that fits their own ideals, not what is best for children, but what is best for profiteers.

How can we save our schools? How can we save our children? We can vote! We can encourage our teachers, employees, and parents to vote! We can establish cultures of voting within our school communities!

We must vote in the primary elections! We should vote in the Early Voting period which ends February 26. Primary election voting day is March 1.

Don't know who to vote for, go to To view their endorsements of candidates who support public education. You can also visit for information on encouraging voting. and, don't miss for ideas on creating that culture of voting.

Here are a few ideas I have used or have heard from TEPSA members:

  • Go vote in the early voting period, get your "I Voted" sticker and place it by your name in the faculty mailbox area.
  • Cover lunches or recess so that your teachers can vote.
  • One district is providing bus services for their employees so they can vote.
  • Don't forget you secretaries, custodians, and all other employees in encouaging them to vote.
  • One principal is giving 'jeans' passes to all who vote.

Comment on your own ways to foster voting by educators. I'll add them to our comments section.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, let's make a positive impact on this election!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

TEPSA Voting Series: A Principal Makes an Impact

The most frequent question I receive during election season is, "Who should I vote for?" TEPSA, as an organization, is prohibited from officially endorsing candidates. We can, however, provide information on how the candidates have voted in the past. where they stand on the issues, who their donations come from, and what they are quoted. Often, one only needs to look at who is endorsing a candidate to understand how to vote or which candidates need to answer a few questions. For example, the group Empower Texans supports vouchers, school choice, and tax credits to send money to private schools. If a candidate is endorsed by, or receives funds from Empower Texans, you know where they stand regarding public schools. As you will see, one candidate states that he was unaware that this group supports vouchers.

Another way to discover where candidates stand on their support (or non-support) of public education is to ask them. in a previous blog of mine, I gave you some questions to ask any candidate where he/she stands. Principal Stacy Davis recently did just that. She emailed several candidates in her area.

Two candidates answered Stacy's email. One was candidate for the U.S. House, Glen Robertson, who emailed that he is emphatic in his support of public schools, of TRS, and that he is against vouchers and/or tax credits that could drain money from funds available to our public schools.

A candidate for the Texas House, Jim Landtroop, who is listed on the endorsement page of an organization dedicated to bringing about a voucher system in Texas, visited Stacy's school! He emphatically expressed his support of public education. He stated that he didn't realize this organization was in favor of vouchers, but he was not in favor of them. Both of these gentlemen have kids attending public schools...that's an answer I like!

Now, whether these statements are accurate or not, Stacy has developed a working relationship with two potential members of legislative bodies. One could be in the Texas Legislature and one could end up in the U.S. House. This is true grassroots advocacy in action. Great job, Stacy!

Another group, Texas Parent PAC ( ), has been vetting candidates for years to see if they support public education. You don't receive their endorsement if you are anti-public schools. Texas Parent PAC has been instrumental in electing pro-public school candidates. As they are still interviewing candidates, their endorsements will be available February 14, 2016...two days before Early Voting commences.

So, what can you do now to check out candidates? Remember the questions I mentioned in a previous blog:

  • How do you support public education? (Not, "Do you support education?")
  • Do you support vouchers?
  • Do you support a tax credit plan? (That would decrease the amount of funds available to public schools.)
  • Do you support giving private schools access to public funds? Or, "Do you support giving money from tax credits to private schools? They should answer, "No."
  • Do you support a defined benefit plan for all current and future TRS retirees?
  • Do you support providing reasonable, affordable, quality healthcare for TRS retirees and future retirees?
  • What will you do as my legislator to ensure that eh TRS pension fund and TRS-CARE health insurance program are preserved and improved?
  • And, if you are feeling frisky, ask them where their own children attend school. Do they attend a public, private, or home school? This question will tell you where their allegiances lie.

For example, J.D. Sheffield, (candidate in TX HD-59) says on his website, "Worked to reverse devastating funding cuts to schools, reduce standardized testing, improve accountability, and honor the promise made to our retired teachers."

On the other hand, Brent Graves, (candidate in TX HD-59), website regarding education states, "If money follows the child and not the zip code then institutions, public or private, are forced to compete for the students and quality will rise." Hum, as a public school proponent, that sounds like vouchers and sending money to private schools via tax credits.

It is easy to see the candidate in TX HD-59 who supports public school education and the one that doesn't.

Check back to our blog and we'll provide you with additional resources to encourage teachers to vote and to help you find out where candidates stand on issues important to you.

Monday, February 1, 2016

TEPSA Voting Series: Tips for Campus Administrators

TEPSA President, Eddie Damian advocates for our kids and for public education

TEPSA President, Eddie Damian, understands the importance of standing up for our public schools. He studies the issues, touches base with the TEPSA Legislative Network, makes relationships with his legislators and their aides...and, he votes. Eddie knows that "if we are to safeguard the integrity of our public schools, to ensure that all children receive a great education, we must get involved in the legislative process." And, that begins with voting!
Harley Eckhart, the executive director of TEPSA and a longtime advocate to public education knows the crucial role we all can play in the 'politics of education.' Harley said recently, "As educators and leaders in out communities, we can influence the future of public education, but only if we vote. We can't just complain. We have to act. We have to vote."
As a school principal, what can you do? TEPSA wants to keep you in the bounds of the law and of your school district policies. Principals can legitimately give information regarding issues and how elections might impact education. Principals can create a culture of voting. Principals can have a huge impact on voting. Maybe this can help:
Lead your campus to 100% voter turnout, because voting is an important part of the community's culture.
Remind your staff and patrons the the results of Texas elections for state government have an impact on the funding, staffing, and academic excellence of their neighborhood school.
Post reminders for staff and patrons to VOTE on marquees, including dates and voting locations, especially during Early Voting.
Host before school "Muffins with Moms" and "Donuts with Dads," encouraging them to vote during Early Voting or on Voting Day.
Place printed voter reminder notes in staff mailboxes (according to your school district's policies).
Promote voting among all district employees. Challenge each campus to have a 100% voter turnout to win the district percentage of voters. Model for staff by wearing an "I Voted" badge or sticker during Early Voting and on November 8.
Hold mock elections with students to teach them the importance of exercising their right to vote.
Allow employees to leave campus during planning periods, at lunch, or when students leave immediately after school to vote early. Be ready to cover classes, lunch, or planning periods so that the teachers can vote.
Organize an art contest where students design voting posters. Display the artwork throughout the school and in local store windows and restaurants. Create a unique emblem or design and display it as artwork each time voting is mentioned...your school's own get out the vote emblem.
Inspire the twenty-something staff members to get involved and vote as that age group typically votes in low numbers. Social networks offer a great tool.
Teach parents about the impact of legislative action on their child's school and why elections matter.
TEPSA is teaming with like-minded organizations to develop 'a culture of voting' among educators. Do your part to support public education. Visit to find out more. Our next few blogs will begin to zero in on specific races and issues. Check back often!