Teacher Voices at the Texas Capitol

February 02, 2023  

State Capitol of Texas, located in Austin, TX
State Capitol of Texas

Starting on Monday, Feb. 6, and throughout each week of the 88th Legislative Session, Raise Your Hand Texas will welcome teachers from across the state as they visit Austin to participate in legislative visits at the Capitol. Our Texas Teacher Advocacy Days are led by our Teacher Specialist, JoLisa Hoover, and our statewide team of Regional Advocacy Directors. 

It has been clear for some time that Texas is facing an ever-mounting teacher workforce crisis. Raise Your Hand Texas created Texas Teacher Advocacy Days to let lawmakers hear directly from teachers, the professionals who are closest to our state’s current challenges and whose expertise can help lawmakers identify meaningful ways to address teacher retention and recruitment. We also want legislators and staffers to have a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing public schools more broadly, as it will take all of us working together to create meaningful change this legislative session. 

“Raise Your Hand Texas knows that teacher issues are going to be at the forefront of the 88th Session, and so we are ensuring teacher voices are heard at the Capitol.”

JoLisa Hoover, Teacher Specialist at Raise Your Hand Texas

JoLisa Hoover

Teacher Specialist, Raise Your Hand Texas

“Raise Your Hand Texas knows that teacher issues are going to be at the forefront of the 88th Session, and so we are ensuring teacher voices are heard at the Capitol,” said JoLisa Hoover. “We are here for schools, teachers, and students and want to elevate teacher experiences as they represent themselves and the students they teach at the Capitol. Their teacher voice and expertise are critically needed now more than ever in this session. Teachers don’t just deserve a seat at the table; their expertise and experiences are needed to lead the teacher workforce crisis table discussion. 

Our mission is to educate, engage, and activate Texans through public education policy and advocacy. The legislative session is the pinnacle of state education policy-making, and an ideal time for public education advocates to raise their voices in support of the issues that matter most to them. In order for legislators and staffers to make informed decisions, they must also hear real stories connected to the issues taking place in classrooms and campuses across the state and back home in their districts.

Raise Your Hand Texas’ Texas Teacher Advocacy Days will bring in Texas teachers from around the state to visit with lawmakers. Each teacher will share experiences and expertise directly with lawmakers and their staff.

“At Raise Your Hand Texas, we believe the best policy solutions are found closest to the lived experience of an issue. So as we prepared our 2023 legislative policy recommendations on Texas Teacher Workforce Issues, we made plans to hear directly from teachers,” said Libby Cohen, senior director of advocacy for Raise Your Hand Texas. “We wanted to know what teaching is like in a post-pandemic reality where teachers are teaching content while also teaching students how to be in-person learners once again.” 

Our Regional Advocacy Directors visited with 697 teachers from 79 Texas school districts over four months. We heard three main themes: 

  • Teachers across Texas appreciate being part of a community of learners, helping students learn, grow, and find their lightbulb moments. Teachers are a voice for students and families. 
  • But right now, teachers feel overwhelmed and demoralized, burned out, and anxious.
  • In addition to concerns about pay, teachers are frustrated by the lack of professional autonomy and trust, the emphasis on STAAR, and piles of state-mandated paperwork. 

All of this feedback, alongside research, our Texas Teacher Workforce white paper, and additional insights, informed our policy recommendations

88th Session Texas Teacher Workforce Policy Recommendations 

  • Support teacher retention through increased compensation and benefits packages, adequate administrative support, and sustainable work environments
  • Invest in teacher recruitment strategies, including scholarships for aspiring teachers
  • Strengthen teacher development by raising the standards for all education preparation programs and providing meaningful professional development opportunities

Texas Teachers Ready to Grow Their Advocacy Skills

The teachers coming to Austin from February through May 2023 are here to learn more about the advocacy process and share their experiences and expertise. Raise Your Hand Texas is here to come alongside them and help them grow their advocacy skills. 

We are also here to engage with and support teachers back home in their communities through online social media conversations. Follow us as we use #UnderTheDome as our Texas Teacher Advocacy Days campaign hashtag; we will also tag our social media posts with #TeacherVoice, #InvestinTeachersTX, #AskaTeacher, and #TeacherAdvocacy. You can participate in our SXSWedu panel on March 7, the 5 Year Problem: Keeping Teachers in the Classroom.  

If you want to get more involved, then connect with your Regional Advocacy Director and make sure you know who your elected officials are by using our “Who Represents Me?” online tool. 

“We will encourage teachers visiting the Capitol to share their stories and lift their voices, and then go back to their communities to share what they’ve learned,” said Hoover. “We will also engage with teachers online throughout the session and elevate their stories and experiences on social media. Listening to our teachers is an important part of the lawmaking process — especially when our elected officials are coming together to solve a problem that affects the students of today and the future workforce of our state.”

Tags: Advocacy Texas Teacher Workforce Texas Teachers

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