Parents to state legislature: fund our schools

Small group spends a Saturday morning on Burnet and Koenig, spreading message of Austin ISD’s budget woes


Samantha Powers

Lamar Middle School parent Denis Thompson, laments that Austin ISD is a school district in financial crisis with teacher departures, a sub shortage and wholesale layoffs at the central office.

Samantha Powers, co-editor in chief

A small group of Austin ISD parents organized a demonstration Saturday morning in favor of higher funding for public schools in Texas. The district’s long-standing budget issues have been especially apparent this year in the form of teacher burnout. Denis Thompson, Lamar Middle School parent and event organizer, said that teacher loss at his daughter’s school is a big problem, especially when combined with sub shortages.

McCallum parent Julia Mickenburg said that recently departed world history teacher Kristen Wachsmann was her daughter’s best teacher and that the disrict needs to find ways to keep teachers like Wachsmann in the profession. Photo by Samantha Powers.

“My daughter’s in school, but whether or not she was, I care about public schools,” Thompson said. “I believe very much in public education, and we shouldn’t underfund it.”

Thompson also criticized the state of Texas for contributing to budget shortfalls in AISD and other school districts across the state.

“AISD is, essentially, in a crisis with their funding,” Thompson said. “They had to lay off 200-plus people recently, and the ultimate reason for that is that the state legislature is not putting in enough money, in Austin and statewide, to public schools.”

Julia Mickenburg, a McCallum parent, joined the demonstration in addition to promoting it on Facebook. Mickenburg’s daughter, a sophomore, was hit hard by the departure of world history teacher Kristen Wachsmann on Thursday. Wachsmann left McCallum for a sales job at a tech company after facing financial pressures and mental health concerns, which are common problems plaguing teachers in recent years.

“The things my daughter was saying about Ms. Wachsmann, about the ways she grew not just as a student, but as a person, and everything—I’ve never heard her say that about any other teacher,” Mickenburg said. “If people have a passion to teach and to change students’ lives, they ought to be able to afford that. We need that.”