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Strengthening our schools, strengthening our community

Guest Column
Sunday, August 25, 2019

Back to school is an exciting time for students from pre-K to college. August brings school supplies, reunions with friends, and the welcome approach of the volleyball season, as well as Friday night Rattlers and Bears football games.

As the summertime fades and the heat ever so slightly recedes, this past year’s achievements will be hard to top for San Marcos CISD. Recent years saw an increase of AP students by more than half. I know that our schools are up to the challenge of ensuring our students are ready for college, military service, or whatever career they choose. San Marcos CISD’s pre-K program at Bonham helps start kids strong from an early age. Throughout their education, the support of the San Marcos Educational Foundation (SMEF), which last year awarded more than $34,000 in innovative teacher grants, helps equip teachers with even more tools.

Protecting our Public Schools & Reaching for Higher Education:

When President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the one-room Johnson City school house where he was taught as a child, he described education as the “only valid passport out of poverty.” He said he chose the signing location “to be reminded and to remind others of that magic time when the world of learning began to open before our eyes.” More than 50 years after LBJ signed that bill into law, I am working to ensure public education here in the Hill Country is protected, higher education is affordable, and all children have the opportunity to reach their God-given potential.

Even after a student obtains a diploma, too many face financial obstacles to furthering their education, as college costs skyrocket. I have supported legislation to limit interest rates on federal loans and to provide more Pell Grants and other types of assistance. I also wrote provisions in the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), which authorized a tax cut of up to $10,000 on education expenses such as tuition, textbooks, and fees.

I have also authored the Student Aid Simplification Act, a bipartisan bill that supports families completing the FAFSA, which is still too complicated. Our legislation makes federal agencies do the heavy lifting so more students and their families can apply for financial assistance. It imports the financial information they need to qualify for aid in just one click.

Strengthening San Marcos’ Community:

San Marcos continues to expand educational opportunities—letting the strength of the town and of Texas State help enrich local schools. As the new water tower near De Zavala Elementary now reminds us, San Marcos truly is “Home of the Rattlers.” With the teacher externship program with the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce and Workforce Solutions Rural Capital, free summer camps through partnerships with Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, and many opportunities to learn at Texas State, our community truly strengthens the educational experience.

Special congratulations to the San Marcos High School volleyball team for earning the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic award, for the seventh year running, thanks to their exemplary GPA! Also, I want to acknowledge all those working hard to make the 1:1 technology rollout a reality, and those who have kept our students healthy all summer long through SMCISD Mobile Meals.

I have the privilege of nominating students to one of our U.S. Service Academies and have recommended a number of San Marcos students; if you are interested in seeking a nomination, please reach out to Brendan Kennedy on my staff at

Working for You:

As students settle into their classrooms, I too will be at my desk, hard at work, ensuring your priorities are my priorities. Students interested in an internship in my Austin or Washington, D.C. office should forward their resume and cover letter to I welcome your counsel or questions about the challenges we face in education and other federal matters.

As you all hit the books, I am confident that this year will be one for the books. Go Rattlers, go Bears, and Eat ‘em Up, Cats!

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666