Education News

Houston’s Student Congress Tells Lawmakers How To Fix School Finance, Improve Education

“Please don’t rationalize and say that minimum public school funding is constitutional when we have students without textbooks and without resources and without teachers.”

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The HISD Student Congress hosted an education summit in downtown Houston Tuesday. Students, lawmakers, policy-makers and teachers discussed problems in education and how to fix them.
The HISD Student Congress hosted an education summit in downtown Houston Tuesday. Students, lawmakers, policy-makers and teachers discussed problems in education and how to fix them.

In Austin this week, state senators are scheduled to discuss new ways to fund schools based on how well students perform instead of attendance.

In Houston, student leaders held a summit to come up with other ways to improve education.

The HISD Student Congress gathered a who’s who in Houston education, including school board trustees, the acting superintendent, lawmakers, teachers and community leaders, to discuss problems in education and how to fix them.

“The mindset at this event was this was our shared future and we have so many different issues that we have to tackle, and, yes, it sounds like a huge headache, and yes, it sounds like there's nothing we can do because it's so many problems. But maybe if we sit down and start talking, maybe we can start figuring this out about every single issue in Houston,” said Zaakir Tameez, who organized the event and helped found the HISD Student Congress.

A lot of the summit focused on student experiences.

In her senior math class at Davis High School, Ailyn Gonzalez, 18, spent a whole semester with a substitute teacher. The reason: “Because there wasn't enough funding for the school to hire another Algebra I teacher,” she said.

So her teacher for advanced math had to teach freshmen algebra, and her class had a substitute, who wasn’t trained in the subject.

Gonzalez said that it was one of her biggest challenges in her education.

She and other students asked politicians and policy-makers at the summit for more social support and more money.

“Please don't rationalize and say that minimum public school funding is constitutional when we have students without textbooks and without resources and without teachers,” she said.

Earlier this year, the Texas Supreme Court ended a massive lawsuit when they declared the state’s school finance system constitutional. Justices said that the system meets the minimum standard but that it has problems and told lawmakers it's their job to fix it.

Students offered ideas on that. Recent DeBakey High School graduate Uyiosa Elegon, 18, said that they need to budget more for English language learners and at-risk students.

“The lack of including some basic necessities, as far the socio-economic necessities, as far as social workers,” he said.

Texas lawmakers start the next legislative session in January.

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