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Education advocates unite to take legislative office

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Frustration over school funding could mean big changes at the State Capitol.

The Texas legislature's approval of $5.4 billion in cuts to education has public school advocates stepping up to run for office.

Carolyn Boyle chairs the Texas Parent Political Action Committee. The PAC is endorsing more than 25 pro-public education candidates, helping them campaign and providing funds.

The PAC was formed in 2005 after the latest attempt to permanently fix the school funding problem failed, and in election year 2006, a change took place.

"It was a totally different situation in 2007 when legislators came back to the Capitol because they realized parents could go to the polls and defeat legislators who were not standing up for public education. We hope that's going to happen again next year," Boyle said. "If supporters win, this will be a game changing election."

Of the 150 members who make up the Texas House, at least 29 candidates have education experience, like serving on a school board. They are trying to oust incumbents or are vying for open seats.

As the Tea Party energized conservative voters in 2010, some say angry parents and other voters could flood election booths May 29.

"We had thousands of teachers and parents and students rally and talk to their legislators about what they needed in their schools, and they didn't hear them and they didn't act upon what they said to them," Rita Haecker with the Texas State Teachers Association said.

Of the newcomers running who are former school board members or have education experience, 17 are Republicans and 12 are Democrats.

Most are pledging to fix Texas' broken school finance system and put less importance on high-stakes standardized testing.

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