Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lobby Austin for Houston's Schools

I received this via email and thought it was important to share.

‎"Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It's like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won't fatten the dog."
- Mark Twain 11/23/1900
Join concerned parents and citizens in Austin on March 14th, Legislative Lobbying Day, No Experience Needed, Transportation and Food Provided, No Cost.

MUST RSVP by March 1st - for the bus. Please spread the word.

Thank you all for your continued willingness to engage and help influence public education funding decisions that will impact every Houstonian. While many parents are learning about this situation others have invested time already by participating in the HISD Legislative Session, HISD budget meetings, and Sue Deigaards' meetings at Stella Link Library. Collectively, we have been raising awareness and working to build a strong, united voice for the benefit of HISD's 203,000 students and for our shared future. As part of this effort, I want to alert you to two significant upcoming events:

Saturday, March 12, noon -- 2:00 pm: Statewide Education Rally at the Texas Capitol in Austin, sponsored by Save Texas Schools. The rally is intended to draw media attention from across Texas to educational issues. You can learn more about this event at

Monday, March 14th, 7 am - 7 pm: Legislative Day at the Texas Capitol in Austin, organized by the Houston Federation of Teachers. HFT has invited parents to join them in meeting with as many state legislators as possible to discuss the state funding situation. During HISD's recent Legislative Training, Bill King (an HISD lobbyist) shared with Houston parents and community members the high impact and value that comes from parents and community members meeting with our legislators face to face. The goal of the trip on the 14th is to fill the halls of our Capitol with Houstonians to discuss funding concerns and solutions -- before our representatives become overscheduled during the pending session. The parent agenda will focus exclusively on the budget situation. We are collaborating on these messages with input from our HISD elected trustees and insight from HISD sponsored meetings. You will receive talking points on the bus ride to Austin.

There is no cost to participate in this lobbying trip to Austin other than your time. Transportation and lunch will be provided by the HFT and no experience is required. If you prefer to drive yourself or carpool you are welcome to do that. If you have never met with an elected official or have never been to the Capitol, no problem. (Please, note that childcare will not be provided and students are not permitted to ride the bus due to liability issues.)

Here is the tentative agenda:

7:00 am: Parents and teachers depart Houston in HFT chartered buses at the SIO Parking Lot located across from HISD's Hattie Mae White. Parents should wear casual comfortable clothes, especially shoes. On the bus, Sue Deigaard and others will provide Legislative training. Parents will receive an update about the budget bills, be provided with talking points and receive tips for meeting and interacting with legislators. There is no limit to the number of parents who participate. In fact, it would be great if you sign up bring a couple of friends along.

10:15 am: Arrive at the Capitol in Austin. You may also choose to drive or carpool. Details about our meeting location will be provided as information becomes available.

10:30 am: Parents will meet breifly with several HISD trustees in Austin. They will provide up to date information to ensure that we are as effective as possible.
11:00 am: Teachers and/or parent will be grouped into teams based on home addresses and they will be provided with a list of legislators to meet. You will walk to the legislators' offices meet with them and/or their staff. Specific details on how to do this will be provided on the bus. If you are only comfortable being present and not talking, there is a role for you here. The more parents present the more compelling the non-verbal message.

Noon: Box lunch at the Capitol courtesy of HFT and you will have a chance to visit further with other parents or teachers and chase down elected officials.

1:00 -- 3:45 pm: Continue visits to various legislators' offices.

4:00 pm: Board buses and depart Austin. Debriefings on bus ride home.

7:00 pm: Arrive at Hattie Mae White in Houston.

If you are just learning about this, have not taken any action regarding the state budget crisis or funding issues at HISD, or are fired up about what is happening then this is the trip for you.

RSVP by Tuesday, March 1st by emailing Sue Deigaard ( and include your name, home address, and phone number. This will enable the HFT logistics team to match up parent teams with teachers and legislators. All HISD parents/taxpayers are welcome and you do not have to be a member of any parent group to particpate. Feel free to forward this email invitation to any interested party.

According to HISD, here are key committees and players we need to be interested in:

Here are additional ways you can participate right now to make a difference...
*If you have not already sent a letter to your legislators or called them to express your views on this issue, please do so. I have included an attachment with the list of HISD schools and the elected officials responsible for the neighborhood.

*There is a sample letter that is available at You can also look up the name and contact information for your representatives in the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate at

*Watch the upcoming interactive "State of Budget" broadcast by HISD on February 21 at 6:30 p.m. to learn more about this issue, hear updates and ask questions. The live broadcast will be available on Comcast Channel 18, AT&T Channel 99 and on the HISD website.

*Attend the HISD legislative training on February 26 at 9 a.m. at the DeBakey High School for Health Professions (3100 Shenandoah, 77021) to learn how to effectively lobby your legislators.

Lastly, here is a recent article about the funding situation by HISD Trustee Moore.

In closing, we hope to see you in Austin along with many other Houston parents and teachers helping to educate our lawmakers about the impact this budget can have on our children and on our shared future.
Mary Nesbitt

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