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MCISD teachers attend Capitol rally

Teachers from Mission CISD and across the Valley drove to the state Capitol to have their voices heard at Saturday’s Save the Schools Rally.

For the last three legislative sessions, education coalitions have banded together to let lawmakers know how their actions affect people in the classroom. Educators, parents, students and legislators throughout Texas gave presentations and performances on hot topics like testing and funding.

20150424 Save the Schools RallyFifth-grade MCISD teacher Nydia Alvarez-Alonzo is just one of hundreds that attended the rally.

“They hear a lot of Austin teachers and San Antonio but they don’t hear a lot from the Valley voices,” Alvarez-Alonzo said. “I think our kids deserve for us to go up there and say ‘Hey, think about us, too’ because that funding is critical for them.”

The science and social studies teacher of 15 years is president of the Mission Classroom Teachers Association, a local chapter of Texas Classroom Teachers Association. TCTA has been in action since 1927, fighting for teachers rights and advocating on their behalf.

Other organizations at the rally included the Parent Teacher Association, Texans Advocating For Meaningful Student Assessment and Association for Texas Professional Educators.

Alvarez-Alonzo said changes have been made because of the rally and other avenues taken to speak out. For example, during the 2013 legislative session, students were expected to pass 15 end of course exams, but the number was reduced to five.

“It’s not just the rally itself, it’s following up, contacting the representatives and making sure that they understand,” she said. “They heard from parents, they heard from the educators, the rally makes front page news – they have to pay attention because it’s an issue that people are concerned about.”

This year, all eyes are on the reformation of Elementary and Secondary Education Act and public school funding. There are two contenders for rewriting the actA, also known as No Child Left Behind from the Bush Administration. Regarding funding, State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, announced that legislation would cover school finance this year, even with the pending Supreme Court case.

A charter bus of 51 MCISD representatives drove to the capitol steps Saturday, with additional caravans originating in cities from McAllen to Brownsville.

Alvarez-Alonzo said what most stood out to her at the rally was a student performance about their take on the state tests. Part of the skit drew attention the physical illness students undergo due to testing worries.

“That’s not the point of education. We need to inspire kids,” she said. “It seems like we need to help the whole child instead of making them think that it’s just about the test.”

Alvarez-Alonzo said she uses her experiences as teaching tool for her students. She informs her fifth graders on the issues and lets them know that groups of people are speaking on their behalf.

“This is our democratic process. This is your constitutional right,” she said. “You have the right to assemble and before you vote, you need to be an informed voter. That’s part of being a successful citizen, which is part of our Mission vision.”

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