Raise Your Hand Texas is excited to announce the launch of a statewide pro-public education advocacy effort. Led by 13 regional advocacy directors, the new effort will contribute to Raise Your Hand’s overall mission of supporting public education in Texas by working to grow a pro-public education constituency across the state. These directors will work alongside educators, community members, families, and business leaders to help Texans raise their voices regarding the importance of public education in their communities throughout election season and future legislative sessions.
The new Raise Your Hand staff bring a varied and complementary set of experiences to this work. About half the group are former educators — teachers, principals, administrators, and one former school board president — and half have relevant backgrounds in policy-making, organizing, and journalism. They are positioned in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Central Texas, El Paso, East Texas, West Texas, the Panhandle, the Gulf Coast, and the Rio Grande Valley. The team recently completed a four-week orientation in Austin, where they deepened their knowledge of Texas education policy and politics, strengthened their community organizing skills, and learned about Raise Your Hand’s programmatic initiatives.
Front Row (Left to Right) – Tom Kelchner, Skylar Gallop, Giovanni Escobedo, Kaylan D. Smith, Cassandra D. Jones, Rey Saldaña, JoLisa Hoover
Back Row (Left to Right) – Todd Schneider, Missy Bender, Matthew Hall, Amy Dodson, Tomás Sigala Jr., Robert Long III
Like many in the education community, Raise Your Hand was encouraged by lawmakers’ determination to invest in our public schools during the 86th legislative session and we believe that House Bill 3 will have a positive impact on campuses across the state. The team will be central to Raise Your Hand’s efforts to build on the momentum of the 86th session, strengthen ties between education advocates, and keep public education a top priority for lawmakers.
To this end, one of the team’s first tasks will be to work with local partners to organize public education-focused candidate forums in advance of the March 2020 primary election. The forums will be non-partisan, open to all candidates, and allow community members to hear directly from candidates about their vision for Texas public schools. The team will also support Raise Your Hand alumni and other advocates in non-partisan voter engagement efforts.
“We know that public education is never an item that can be checked ‘complete’ on the legislature’s agenda,” said Raise Your Hand’s Director of Advocacy and Outreach Libby Cohen. “This talented team will work hand-in-hand with local groups and individuals who understand the critical value and purpose of our public schools in our communities and our state.”
The team will also contribute to the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation’s programming and community engagement efforts, including Raise Your Hand’s Raising Blended Learners program, our Raising School Leaders Harvard leadership program, and our Raising Texas Teachers initiative, including the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers. Keep an eye out for a Raise Your Hand Regional Advocacy Director in your community, and join us as we support public education throughout Texas. Because the future of Texas is in our public schools.
Raise Your Hand Texas regional advocacy directors: Missy Bender (Collin/Denton Counties), Amy Dodson (West Texas), Giovanni Escobedo (Rio Grande Valley), Skylar Gallop (Panhandle), Matthew Hall (Greater Fort Worth), JoLisa Hoover (Central Texas), Cassandra Jones (Central Houston), Tom Kelchner (East Houston/Gulf Coast), Robert Long (West Houston), Todd Schneider (East Texas), Tomás Sigala (El Paso/Trans-Pecos), Kaylan Dixon Smith (Dallas County), Rey Saldaña (San Antonio)
Learn more about each member of the team by scrolling down on our staff page.