Hurd on the Hill: Preparing Students for a Successful School Year

August 21, 2018
Hurd on the Hill: Local Columns

Knowledge is power, and with a good education, our kids will be empowered to change the world. It’s that time of year again when the summer winds down and families prepare for the new school year. With the hustle and bustle of buying school supplies, meeting new teachers and getting back into the school year routine, we sometimes forget the impact that learning will have on our children’s lives.

Our kids are the next generation of leaders and their success in the classroom creates a foundation for tackling life’s most challenging problems down the road. In fact, access to educational opportunities for all Texans, regardless of their backgrounds, strengthens our economy, drives technological advancement across every industry and allows folks to overcome socioeconomic challenges that are influenced by education inequality.

This is why I continuously advocate for quality education and increased educational resources for communities throughout the 23rd District of Texas.

In many communities, this means donating books to local public and school libraries from the Library of Congress. As recent as last week, I dropped off donated books to the Jeff Davis Public Library in Fort Davis, and am proud to have done the same for dozens of libraries throughout the district. In other communities, this means delivering free school supplies with non-profit organizations like my team and I did last week in Dilley. In Del Rio, this meant helping provide a legislative fix so that San Felipe Del Rio CISD and Laughlin Air Force Base could move forward with a lease for the new Laughlin Elementary STEM Magnet School which is welcoming its inaugural class of students this week.

One of the ways that thousands of students in the 23rd District of Texas obtain the tools needed for educational success is through an education grant program called GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. This competitive federal grant program is designed to better prepare low-income students for college and their careers through counseling, tutoring, mentoring, and scholarships as early as middle school.

GEAR UP serves 45 middle and high schools in TX-23, giving thousands of local students in our communities the tools they need to finish school and become valuable contributors in the workforce. I recently introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and increase eligible uses of GEAR UP grants, because I’ve seen proof that this program is working right here at home.

Additionally, bullying and cyberbullying too often creates a toxic learning environment for our kids. This is why I co-sponsored legislation to establish an Anti-Bullying Roundtable to study bullying in elementary and secondary schools so that we can better protect our children. It is also why I am planning a series of anti-bullying events in San Antonio in upcoming months. I plan to meet with several school superintendents, child advocates and anti-bullying experts before hosting an interactive educational panel for school-aged students to better understand the impact of bullying and how to successfully overcome the stigma.

I am always looking for new ways to engage with TX-23 kids and have spoken to over 40 schools since I was elected to Congress.  However, there is always more that we can do to stay ahead of the curve and prepare students for a successful school year. If we equip our students with resources and support, I am confident that they will have all the tools they need to better the world.

If you are a parent or teacher in the 23rd District of Texas and would like to request for me to speak at your school, please visit: hurd.house.gov/contact/invite-me-speak. In addition, please let me know if your library would like books donated from the Library of Congress.