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We may already be in our second special session of 2023, with more specials forecasted for summer and fall, but I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the 88th regular legislative session because it was definitely one for the history books. Our TASA Governmental Relations team worked 24/7 for months, and I am really proud of their passion, expertise, and incredible support for our public schools as well as for our members.

We are not alone. Other associations that represent public schools, as well as many educational leaders themselves, were actively engaged in protecting our precious community schools in the face of long odds.

Being so up close and personal to the legislative process for so many years has been inspiring, appalling, and deflating all at the same time. The “sausage making process” is hard enough to watch, and even harder when sometimes we are the ones going through the meat grinder.

So, what is it like at the Capitol? Which TV show does it most resemble? The answer is that it is a little bit of each of those in the title of this post. It depends on the person.

“Veep” — This is, of course, a hilarious show starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus starring as a U.S. vice president who is a bit of a buffoon. She doesn’t know much, doesn’t really have any principles other than trying to eventually be president, and she has an office that is mostly chaotic. There are definitely leaders who resemble this. They rarely understand the bills they pass, they don’t care much about good policy, and they generally make lousy lawmakers. It would be hilarious, like the show, if the consequences weren’t so important to real people.

“House of Cards” — This critically acclaimed show is about the dark side of politics. The Machiavellian president is constantly trying to gain power and influence at all cost, and to punish those who threaten that power. Ethics are not important — power is. The leaders are capable enough, but they use their skills for all the wrong reasons.

“The West Wing” — Images of brilliant lawmakers walking through the hallways trying to make principled, aspirational decisions in a strategic and thoughtful manner is how I’d like to think our Texas leaders are really like. They may be flawed, but they are the best of us, just trying to represent and make life better for everyone. The leaders who fit this description listen to constituents, collaborate across the aisle, and work to make our lives better.

Regardless of your party affiliation, I would suggest that each model has examples in both parties. Clearly, the thoughtful leaders in both parties are a joy to work with; they give us a listening ear and a place at the table, and they try to pass good legislation that improves the lives of the 5.4 million children in Texas public schools. We may or may not always agree with them, but know they are in it for the right reasons. We need more like them.

-TASA Executive Director Kevin Brown, Ed.D.