Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus Makes Education a Priority
In Texas, Senate Hispanic Caucus leaders aim to make education a priority for the 84th Legislative Session, which started Jan. 13 and runs through June 1.
Their agenda, announced Monday, includes education along with health care, immigration, civic engagement and economic opportunity, the El Paso Times reported.
According to information gleaned from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, in 2012 there were 10 million Latinos living in Texas, making up 38.2 percent of the population. Yet State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, chairman of the Senate Hispanic Caucus, said issues pertinent to Hispanics often get “short shrift” in the Capitol.
“For too long, Latinos have not been at the table when key policy decisions are made,” Rodriguez said.
On the education front, the Hispanic caucus wants to restore public education funding to pre-2011 levels — before legislators cut $5.4 billion from the state’s budget. Other goals include maintaining a cap on the number of charter schools in the state and rejecting school vouchers, further reducing the number of high-stakes tests, and increasing funding for English-language learners.
But in order to see these initiatives to fruition, the caucus will have to work “offensively and defensively,” Caucus Vice President Sen. Sylvia Garcia said, as it’s “probably going to be one of the most conservative sessions in a long time.”
The caucus is comprised of 12 democrats; half are Latino.