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Area educators on right path

We like the way that area educators are working out a battle plan for the upcoming budget wars with the Texas Legislature.

Last week, about 80 representatives of school districts in Denton, Parker, Wise and Tarrant counties were in Denton to attend the Greater North Texas Community Engagement Symposium, where they discussed legislative priorities and planned to present a united voice to state legislators on the issue of public education funding.

The Denton school district hosted the innovative event at the LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex. We think the symposium was a great idea — one that other school districts should consider trying.

It’s a proactive way for educators to respond to state funding cuts. By joining with their neighbors now to prepare, the districts should be able to present a more effective case in Austin when the Legislature opens.

And as local educators will tell you, the issue of state funding is of critical concern. During the last legislative session, the state slashed funding to public education by more than $5 billion.

The symposium not only brought participants up to speed on issues relevant to the upcoming 83rd Legislature and the priorities of area educators, but also covered myths generally told about public education, and studies and news articles that debunk those myths.

Mia Price, Denton school board president, said she thinks the effort speaks volumes about the commitment of neighboring districts to preserve the quality of education in public schools, and we agree.

Denton and some other districts have been able to achieve continued success despite state budget cuts, but the task has been challenging, Price told us.

And that challenge will continue. There are no guarantees that the quality of our schools can be maintained, unless educators can convince lawmakers to adequately fund public education.

Events like last week’s symposium could help educate legislators about the issues facing schools before they make important decisions, said Ron Bullock, an Aubrey school board member. Many in the Legislature are not up to speed on education, he said.

“We’re at a tipping point in education, and we are at a point where we cannot stand any additional cuts or not have attention paid to education in the next legislative session,” Bullock told us.

We applaud the efforts of local educators in setting up last week’s symposium, and we think the effort will bear fruit. It’s a good start for board members and administrators as they tackle the job of educating the public and elected officials about the successes of public schools and the importance of funding those schools.