The increasing role of teacher voice in the legislative process

This month, education advocate and Texas House Rep. Mary Gonzalez co-authored an article with Andrea Chevalier, a doctoral student at the University of Texas that examines the growing influence of teachers in the electoral and legislative process.

In the Texas Education Review article, Rep. Gonzalez acknowledges the successes the education community had in the last legislative session despite the huge institutional roadblocks in our way. Teachers played a greater role in that process, which started at the ballot box, and the article also provides insight into how the education community can continue to be successful.

Gonzalez contributes our recent legislative success to our electoral efforts to put more pro-education candidates in office. As the Legislature gets more competitive and educators gain more power in electoral politics, lawmakers will be forced to listen to our demands. The article also acknowledges some institutional limitations which have inhibited teachers from getting directly involved in the legislative process. The low salary and tough schedule already prevents anyone of limited means from being a member of the Legislature, but the law also explicitly prohibits any current government employee, including professors and school teachers, from joining the Legislature. Gonzalez offers a path for the education community to overcome these barriers and create meaningful change. Gonzalez suggests that educators must unite if we are to get anything done. We cannot allow relatively small disagreements to get in the way of huge, meaningful change.

As the conclusion notes: “Educators have been successful in intentionally and strategically entering the Texas political landscape as an influential voting bloc. With the changes in demographics and elections in Texas, educators’ voice will continue to grow.”

Read the full article: “Teachers in a New Political Landscape.”