This Texas Rep Toured Every School in His District – Not to Talk, But to Listen

State Rep. Diego Bernal says one of the things teachers told him is that they want more instructional time: “I think I went in expecting them saying, ‘We just need more money and that would solve all the problems.’ They didn’t say that. In fact, no one said that.”

By Michael MarksNovember 25, 2016 9:30 am| ,

This post originally aired and published on Aug. 29, 2016.

Along with other Texas lawmakers,  state Rep. Diego Bernal, a Democrat from San Antonio, has been getting an earful from all sides on problems with public education in Texas.

But rather than taking someone else’s word for it, he did what no other lawmaker has yet to do – he visited every single school in his district, 55 in all.

Rep. Bernal says educators’ responses were, in some ways, unexpected. “I think I went in expecting them saying, ‘We just need more money and that would solve all the problems.’ They didn’t say that,” he says. “In fact, no one said that.”

Bernal says he didn’t understand the importance of placing experienced teachers at the schools with the highest needs. “You load these campuses up with inexperienced teachers – those people are good folks and they could probably do a good job – but you’re not playing the odds the way you would if you give them experienced teachers for a limited amount of time,” he says.

Medium/DiegoBernalTX

A map of the schools that Texas Rep. Diego Bernal visited during his August tour.


Medium/DiegoBernalTX
A map of the schools that Texas Rep. Diego Bernal visited during his August tour.

Time, Bernal says, is the biggest desire from teachers. Also, programs that the state and district implement to improve a school require often more record-keeping and data entry. “All those things – even if they’re small individually – they can take away from instructional time,” he says. “What we need to do is make sure that in our effort to help, we’re also not hurting.”

Post by Hannah McBride.