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Local Educators Lobby Lawmakers

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Teachers from across the state, took a day off from school to lobby lawmakers in Austin Monday.

Among their priorities is school finance, teacher's pay and standardized tests.

ATPE is the largest educator's organization in the state, and Monday they brought their agenda to Texas lawmakers.

"There's no better person to ask about what's good for education, than an educator," says Sheila Fields, Past ATPE State President and Bryan elementary school teacher.

Fields wants changes.

She and other educators from across the state spent the day in Austin lobbying state legislators for better pay, smaller class sizes and a number of other educational issues.

"We're here to see teachers have a voice in the legislative process and focus on children, our top priority," says Brock Gregg with ATPE.

Also on the priority list is increasing teacher's pay to meet the national average of $46,000 a year.

According to ATPE, Texas teachers are paid $40,000 on average.

The organization also wants a $1,000 health insurance supplement restored, a fair solution to school finance issues, smaller class sizes and the prevention of school vouchers.

But most of all, ATPE is calling for a study on the effectiveness of standardized tests.

"We're spending too much time preparing kids for the test and there are other things they need to be learning," says Fields.

State Representative Fred Brown says while it's important to hear from constituents, finding the money to take action is a difficult task.

"It all comes down to dollars. Where do we get the dollars? Where can we spread the efficiency to get the money to do the things that are important," says Brown.

Although ATPE doesn't expect to get everything on the wish list, educator's time was well spent, making sure their voices are heard.

A resolution has been filed to begin the study on standardized tests.

If passed, a report would be due no later than September of 2006.