Petition headed to Texas governor demanding public education funding restored

Thousands of people from across the City of Brownsville have signed a petition to show they are united in their voice to Texas Governor Rick Perry.

"We want you to support public education," Patrick Hammes, president-elect for the Association of Brownsville Educators said. "What you are doing is hurting the children of Texas."

The AOBE is affiliated with the Texas State Teachers Association or TSTA, the union behind the petition to stop the public education cuts.

More than 2,600 people signed it across Brownsville.

It's the most of any local chapter in the state, according to Hammes. He says the petitions will be delivered to the Governor's office by the end of the month to ensure kids have a great education. "We can't do that... If we're cutting back on resources needed to be successful." The petition calls for a special session to restore the near 5-and-a-half-billion dollars cut from the state budget last year. The union fears 50,000 education jobs are in jeopardy, which include: teachers, teacher's aides, bus drivers, and custodians. Hammes believes overcrowding in the classrooms could be a major concern. "You're looking at a ratio of 25 to 1 in grades 5 - 12... That can be a class of 15... And then a class of 35 for your teachers... Do you want your students... Your children to be taught in a class of 35... Do you think that's beneficial for them... All studies show that it's not," he said. The teacher's union claims cuts are already happening at the Brownsville Independent School District. Hammes says his association has been told art and computer classes have been slashed on the elementary school level. His fear is that there may be more changes to come. The school district says the cuts aren't true and equates any changes to normal campus reshuffling. BISD Spokesperson Drue Brown adds how the budget is still being finalized ahead of the July 1st deadline. The district lost $17 million last year in state funding. It didn't lead to job loses. But BISD stands to lose another $6 million this year. Despite a shrinking budget, the Texas Governor's office calls education a top priority. "We've continued to pump billions of dollars into education over the last 10 years," Lucy Nashed, spokesperson said. "It is up to the school districts to find efficiencies and determine the best way to spend that money." It's a tough task for any school district. The union believes the state can do more by dipping into the state's $7 billion "Rainy Day Fund." The governor's office tells Action 4 News there are no plans to dip into it to fund public education.

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