Valley teacher testifies at Texas school finance trial
Wed, 13 Feb 2013 01:57:44 GMT —
The school finance trial is now a thing of the past.
A judge decided the schools need more money and the way the state funds education is unconstitutional.
His decision was based in part on one Rio Grande Valley teacher's powerful testimony.
Veteran teacher Roxanne Shimotsu has spent 19 years at Sam Houston Elementary School in Harlingen.
She knows all too well the challenges in her field and what students are up against.
"They don't have a fair chance at their educational opportunities. They're not able to succeed as much as they could," said Shimotsu.
The problem is a lack of resources.
They no longer have teacher's assistants in every classroom at Sam Houston.
There are no high tech ipads, no after school tutoring.
She is just lucky if students come from families that can afford school supplies.
"It is a problem because it is embarrassing for the kids," said Shimotsu.
Shimotsu brought that message to the school finance trial in Austin, testifying on behalf of 600 school districts in the state, suing over inadequate funding.
They say there is not enough money to properly prepare students for college.
"Our priority is their success," said Shimotsu.
Texas State Representative Sergio Muoz of Palmview is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, a group of lawmakers tasked with coming up with a way find more money for education.
"We can hopefully all go back collectively and look to pass a positive solution to this," said Muoz.
The $5.4 billion dollars cut by the last legislature is like a hole in the pockets of the districts.
Without the money to continue teachers' education, many say it will be hard to improve student performance.
"We want to make sure that everybody has a level playing field," said Muoz.
For Shimotsu, that means the work she and her colleagues do will pay off in the long run.
"Education has to be number one for the state of Texas because I don't want all of my efforts or every bodies efforts as a teacher and educators, for that to go down the tubes," said Shimotsu.
She wants lawmakers to come together and make the right decision for the children.
The state can now appeal the case directly to the supreme court, which could order the legislature to revamp the system.
A ruling from the high court will unlikely come before the end of the legislative session in May.
For now, the school finance system remains unchanged.