State of Our ChildrenBy The Texas Tribune writers and DFWChild editors
Special Reporting by the Texas Tribune.
In his State of the State address in January, Gov. Greg Abbott declared four issues emergencies for Texas lawmakers during the 85th Legislative Session. Only one of those emergencies involved kids (the state’s broken child welfare program).
Over the last year, however, we’ve been sickened by what we’ve seen with regards to children in Texas (not to mention what’s happening on the national level). Children with mental illnesses, special needs and learning disabilities being denied special education in our public schools and a foster care system that continues to fail the children it’s supposed to be protecting (to name just a few). We decided to take a closer look at the state of Texas’ children. We teamed up with The Texas Tribune to paint a (rather grim) picture of the issues — special education, mental health, child welfare and education — affecting kids in the year (and years) ahead.
As parents, we’ve felt compelled to act, to help these kids. We don’t all have kids in special education, and we may not know any foster kids, but that doesn’t mean that these children are not our responsibility. These kids are going to grow up and become part of the collective society with our children. Don’t we all want to create a better world for our kids? Start now. Get involved with a cause (or several) that moves you, and let your voice be heard for the kids who may not have one.
Special Education: The current system continues to fail thousands of kids with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental illness and other special needs. Read more here..
Child Welfare: We became too familiar with the tragic story of Leiliana Wright, the 4-year-old Grand Prairie girl who suffered a horrible death at the hands of her mother and her boyfriend, while involved with Child Protective Services (CPS), last March. Read more here...
Mental Health: On Christmas Day 2014, life in David and Norma Walker’s Garland home started happy. Sadie, one of their four children, opened her gifts and went outside to ride her new skateboard. But the15-year-old didn’t return. She had taken her life in a remote spot just down the street from her house. Read more here...
Education: In the annual “Quality Counts” report from Education Week’s research center (a report they’ve been producing for two decades) in 2016, Texas ranked 43rd in the nation in public education and spent $3,000 less per student than the national average. Read more here...
Facebook shares and likes and Twitter retweets can’t create change. Calling your representatives on the phone (or emailing them can). Calling is the most effective way to have your voice heard (aside from making an in-person visit). Calls are tallied by staffers and the count is given to your representatives, informing them how strongly their constituents feel about an issue. So reach out now. (Type your address into fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx to find out who represents you.)
Find your reps here.
Telephone calls will be taken by a representative’s aide, or you may have to leave a message. After identifying yourself, and providing your phone number, say that you’re a constituent from District ____, ZIP code ____ and that you support or oppose Senate Bill ____ or House Bill ____ (the aide keeps tallies). State the reasons for your support or opposition, then thank your representative for their work.
If you prefer to email, state your purpose for writing in the first paragraph, giving your stance on the Senate or House bill number, and include examples to support your position.
It goes without saying, you should always be courteous and polite, and only address one issue in each phone call or letter.
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