This week, the Texas Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans held back-to-back hearings on school safety and mental health in the wake of devastating reporting on the utter failure of law enforcement leadership in response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
While there was much useful expert testimony about how to improve school safety and access to mental healthcare in our schools and communities, teachers were not invited to make their voices heard. The committee largely avoided discussing desperately needed and broadly popular gun safety reform and focused on behavioral issues, discipline, and culture instead.
Thank you to Sen. Royce West for taking time in the hearing to emphasize the importance of teachers’ experience as frontline employees with valuable knowledge to contribute to the discourse and for calling out our missing seat at the table. The stakes are high for public school staff as nurturers and protectors of our students.
As these conversations evolve, we must ensure that our elected officials address all the challenges facing public education in Texas with the urgency they deserve.
The 88th Texas Legislature—which convenes in January—must provide adequate funding to meet the diverse needs of our public schools in this moment of crisis and guarantee that school districts are not pressured to choose between investing in school safety and mental health or paying their staff long-overdue raises.