The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines champion as “someone (such as a team or an animal) that has won a contest or competition especially in sports”, but also as “someone who fights or speaks publicly in support of a person, belief, cause, etc”.
The second definition really stands out to me since later today I am trying to do just that: speak publicly in support of a belief-at yet another House of Representatives Public Education Committee Hearing. My belief is that SB 149 should be passed in time to help our current seniors in danger of not graduating because they have not passed all of their STAAR tests. You can scroll through my archive starting this past January in case you are unfamiliar with how Texas places more emphasis on testing than it does on its students, and why this bill was created in the first place.
My personal champions throughout this process have been the folks from the grassroots groups Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment and Texas Parents Opt Out of State Tests. Both of these groups have provided an incredible amount of essential information for anyone impacted by the STAAR tests and have each sent people to testify on behalf of our state’s students and teachers. Without their continued support, showing up to the Capitol would be way more difficult and lonely. Three out of the four times I’ve recently testified, I have been the ONLY high school English teacher to do so. I know representatives from both groups will be at the Capitol later today and that always helps calm my nerves.
I believe testifying publicly is the best way to be a champion not only to my students past and present, but to my colleagues as well. What I’d like to make clear is that I am only ONE person, and that the fight for better, quality assessments is far from over. The STAAR Wars started more than 3 years ago, and fighting for SB 149 is just one battle among many. I am aware that many parents and teachers have made the effort to contact their State Representatives, but I would still love to see 200 of them at the Capitol today. I know from past experience that’s probably not going to happen (still hopeful it will) but it’s okay; I will be there regardless because I told my kids I won’t give up until a decision is made, and I know they’ll be with me every step of the way.