HISD Students Meet With Texas Lawmakers on Opening Day of 86th Legislature


Victor Arreola

The Capital Building – Austin, Texas on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Alyssa Vazquez, Editor

Opening Day Ceremonies were held on Tuesday, January 8th for the 86th Legislature of the Texas House of Representatives, at the Texas State Capitol Building in Austin. On hand to witness this prestigious event was a group of approximately 40 high school students from Houston ISD, who were given the opportunity to attend on a charter bus trip organized by Ashlea Turner of HISD Government Relations, and by Carlos Doroteo working alongside from an organization called Citizens Empowered.

Five students and a teacher/chaperone represented nine HISD schools: Bellaire, East Early College, Eastwood, Northside, Sterling, Westbury, Wisdom, Yates, and Young Women’s Prep-Academy. The day began when the group met Rep. Armando Walle on the steps of the Capital Building upon their arrival.

Once inside, the group heard about the lobbying process from Luis Figueroa – Legislative & Policy Director for the Center of Public Policy Priorities. After a short lunch break, the students sat in the Auditorium to watch the official election process of the new Speaker of the House – Rep. Dennis Bonnen, who is from Angleton. They then moved inside the gallery of the House, to hear Bonnen’s initial address to his fellow Representatives, followed by Governor Greg Abbott’s address to the House as well.

Bonnen is an advocate for public school finance reform, and during his speech, he made it very clear that the State’s public education budget will be his top priority during this session. “It was great news to hear, that our representatives will be focused on public education, by tackling such a huge issue that needs to be fixed,” said Wisdom senior Victor Arreola, who attended and took pictures as the Wisdom Chronicle photographer.

The theme of public school finance reform continued throughout the day, as the Houston ISD group later met with Rep. Carol Alvarado, Rep. Ana Hernandez, and Senator Borris Miles. Alvarado graduated from HISD’s Milby High School, and Hernandez represents the east side of Houston – both stressed the importance of student activism in the community and thanked the students for traveling all the way to Austin, to have their voices heard.

“I am a proud product of Houston ISD, so to have the chance to meet with students that I represent was special,” said Alvarado. “I want them to know that their voice is the most important voice there is, when it comes to the debate on public education. No lobbyists or school administrator can better explain the consequences of this broken system, than students can. The financing is old and needs to be updated, so it’s time to change that.”

One student who enjoyed the experience was Bellaire senior Zuleiram Perez, who is the President of the LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) chapter on her campus. “The entire day was incredible,” said Perez. “It was an honor to meet our representatives who actually also wanted to meet us and listen to what we had to say. It’s so empowering to know that they are focused on improving the education system for the youth of Texas.”

The Wisdom TV News crew of reporter Belinda Obasi and videographer Erick Poz were able to arrange on-camera interviews with both Alvarado & Hernandez. A full video news report with highlights from the day, those interviews, and comments from both Bonnen and Abbott during their speeches, will be produced by the Wisdom TV News staff and posted to the Wisdom Chronicle website.