Legislators Champion Public Education in the 88th Session

December 08, 2023  

Throughout the fall, Raise Your Hand Texas recognized the 100 legislators who stood alongside us to fight for Texas public education during the 88th Legislative Session. The Public Education Champion Award celebrates these legislators’ outstanding achievement and steadfast commitment to our 5.5 million students and their teachers.

During the 88th Regular Session, these legislators demonstrated exceptional leadership by standing their ground regarding issues such as increases in funding for public schools and saying no to vouchers, also known as education savings accounts (ESAs).

“When legislators are willing to go above and beyond for their public schools and the students and teachers in their local community, they need to be recognized for their efforts,” said Dr. Michelle Smith, Raise Your Hand Texas’ executive director. 

Across the State Public Education Champions Were Honored

Raise Your Hand Texas held a few events across the state to honor Public Education Champion Award recipients’ continued excellence in leadership.

Southeast Texas

Rep. Ernest Bailes (HD-18) was recognized at an event hosted by Dayton ISD, and attended by other superintendents in his region, including Hardin ISD, Liberty ISD, and Tarkington ISD.

Rep. Bailes exemplifies what it means to be a Public Education Champion. During the 88th Legislative Session, he voiced his concern when there was a last minute push to let voucher legislation out of the House Committee on Public Education. Rep. Bailes denounced the lack of opportunity for public comment on the updated bill language when it was set to be voted out of committee, and successfully led the effort for a more open and deliberative process.  

Liberty ISD Superintendent Dustin McGee shared his appreciation for Rep. Bailes at the event for supporting rural schools in discussions at the Capitol.

“We have to have somebody in Austin who advocates for us,” said McGee, as reported in the Bluebonnet News. “We’re here today to thank him for standing up for us and for going every time he gets an opportunity and being an advocate for all suburban and rural schools because we’re not like everybody else.”

Greater Houston 

Rep. Ana Hernandez (HD-143) was presented the award with Channelview ISD and Galena Park ISD in Houston. Students of all ages from Channelview ISD’s superintendent student advisory committee, The Voice, joined the celebration for Rep. Hernandez, who stood alongside Harris County Democrats to publicly refuse support for any bill that allocates tax money toward private schools.

“It is truly my honor and pleasure to represent #HD143 students and advocate for our public schools,” said Rep. Hernandez on social media. “Thank you, (Raise Your Hand Texas), for this award and your partnership in fighting for public schools and ensuring every child has an equal opportunity to succeed.”

Rep. Armando Walle (HD-140) was recognized for his efforts to increase funding for Texas public schools during an event in Aldine ISD at Blanson Career and Technical Education High School. Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney thanked Rep. Walle for his dedication to his constituents.

“He is a true servant leader,” said Dr. Goffney on social media. “Anytime I call, he answers!”


In Austin, Reps. James Talarico (HD-52), Gina Hinojosa (HD-49), and Sheryl Cole (HD-46) were recognized for their contributions to protect the interests of public schools throughout Central Texas.

During the Regular Session, Rep. Talarico, alongside other Democratic legislators, fought hard for Texas teachers, proposing legislation for a $15,000 teacher pay raise in HB 1548, showcasing the ever increasing need to support our educators and pay them a respectful wage as inflation has cut into their budgets across the state.

Teachers from across Central Texas came together to support the legislators at the Public Education Champions Event event held across the street from the Capitol. “With the teachers who make the magic happen for our kids in the classroom,” said Rep. Hinojosa on social media. “Wouldn’t want to be on any other side in the fight to save our schools.”

Feeling immense economic pressure to provide the best education to all students across the state of Texas, Rep. Cole joined with her colleagues to continue to push for more public school funding for the students in House District 46 stating, “we should invest in ALL students and FULLY FUND our local schools.”

Central Texas

At a small gathering with Temple ISD, Raise Your Hand Texas presented Rep. Hugh Shine (HD-55) the award for his commitment to public education during the Regular Session. Shine met with local school board members and Superintendent Bobby Ott during his award reception to hear about their concerns and needs to voice his support as an advocate in Austin for the students in House District 55. 

Shine continued to support his public schools joining with his Republican colleagues to better fund school security and safety during the 4th called special session, and increased general funding to meet the needs of House District 55’s public schools. 

North Texas

During a Friday night lights football game, Rep. Glenn Rogers (HD-60) was celebrated by officials from Aledo ISD and Denton ISD as a Public Education Champion for his commitment to passing legislation that will create meaningful testing and accountability for Texas students and schools.

“I believe that having a properly crafted accountability for the use of tax dollars for education is important and that we must do a better job of measuring the success that takes place every day in public schools across our great state,” said Rep. Rogers at Raise Your Hand’s Measure What Matters Day at the Capitol in April during the Regular Session.

Big Country Texas

Returning to his alma mater, Rep. Stan Lambert (HD-71) received the award at Abilene ISD’s Taylor Elementary School. Students, teachers, parents and community members filled the school’s library to recognize Rep. Lambert for his work. He is one of the legislators who helped pass Amendment 45 to prohibit the use of appropriated money for school vouchers.

“I believe public education in Texas has proven over time that it is the great equalizer as far as providing every student, no matter their background or their economic status, the opportunity and the tools to succeed,” said Lambert in an article written by Abilene ISD

Lambert continued, “I am humbled and honored by the recognition from Raise Your Hand Texas and for doing what I have always believed is so important: fully supporting our students, teachers, and staff in all of our public schools. We have to provide adequate resources to accomplish the goals of ensuring that each student is allowed to succeed.”

San Antonio-area

In Bexar County, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (HD-116), Rep. Josey Garcia (HD-124), and Sen. José Menéndez (SD-26) were celebrated at the Northside ISD’s CAST Teach High School for their unwavering support to create positive changes in Texas public schools. A significant location to honor these three Champions, the CAST Teach High School presents a unique opportunity to develop and empower its students so that they in turn, as future educators, have a bigger impact on generations to come.

“I will always fight for all #HD124 children, teachers, and support staff by advocating for fully funding our public school classrooms and providing long overdue raises,” said Rep. Garcia on social media.

Many legislators across the state took to social media to celebrate their award and share it with their constituents:

  • “I’m humbled and grateful to receive the 2023 @RYHTexas Public Education Champion Award! Thank you for recognizing our efforts to defend our public schools. Together, we’ll continue to protect our students, teachers, and parents from harmful legislation. 🙌📚#ImWithJulie #CD32” – Rep. Julie Johnson (HD-115);
  • “In the State House this past session, I fought for and passed increased school safety, parental rights in education and a cost-of-living-adjustment for our retired teachers. Thank you to my colleagues in the Legislature who fought tirelessly for our public schools.” – Rep. Justin Holland (HD-33);
  • “Public schools are the backbone of our communities. I am deeply honored to be named a Public Education Champion by @RYHTexas for keeping good public education policies at the forefront and supporting our families, educators and our future workforce. #txlege #hounews #SD13” – Sen. Borris Miles (SD-13); and,
  • “It’s an honor to be named a Public Education Champion by @RYHTexas alongside other state legislators. My office will always fight for and support #txed in all future sessions, including opposing any vouchers and fully funding teachers and schools. #txlege” – Rep. Mary González (HD-75).

Raise Your Hand Texas thanks ALL of the legislators who were named Public Education Champions for fighting to protect Texas public schools in the 88th Legislative Session – and beyond.

Tags: fund schools Public education champion vouchers hurt

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