Wendy Davis supporters want her reinstated to education committee

Posted Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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AUSTIN - Supporters of state Sen. Wendy Davis are waging a petition drive demanding that the Fort Worth Democrat be reinstated to the Senate Education Committee.

Melanie Harvey, a fourth-grade teacher in the Everman School District, said she organized the petition over the weekend after Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the Senate's presiding officer, removed Davis from the committee, where she had served since entering the Senate in 2009.

“While I’m honored by the petition, the fight to protect our children’s future is far bigger than me,” Davis said in a statement. “I’m proud to stand with students, parents and teachers in their effort to restore $5.4 billion in cuts to our schools.”

By late Tuesday afternoon, the drive had passed the halfway point in its goal of obtaining 2,000 signatures, according to a tally on the online petition site SignOn.org. The site reported 1,018 signatures by 4:30 p.m.

"I hope we have several thousand," Harvey said. "More and more parents are going to get involved when they see how the cuts are affecting them."

Davis spokesman Rick Svatora said the senator's removal was an attempt to "silence a strong voice for public education" and leaves Davis' district without representation on an important legislative committee.

Davis was the only Tarrant County member on the panel, which plays a major role in shaping state education policy.

Davis, who won re-election to a second term in November, irritated Republican leaders by staging a filibuster at the end of the 2011 session to protest $5.4 billion in education cuts. She has made restoration of the cuts a top priority in the current session that began Jan. 8.

Harvey, who teaches at Bishop Elementary School, described Davis as a "sound voice for what really needs to be done for the children."

"Wendy has been a great supporter of our cause," she said.

The drive is being conducted through SignOn.org, the online petition platform of MoveOn.org, an advocacy organization often aligned with Democrats, but Harvey said the organization is not affiliated with her efforts to reinstate Davis.

Harvey said the petition drive also has the support of Save Texas Schools, a volunteer coalition of educators and parents that was active in opposing school cuts in the 2011 Legislature.

The organization is also conducting a petition drive calling on lawmakers to restore the education cuts and is planning a rally at the State Capitol in February.

Dave Montgomery is chief of the Star-Telegram's Austin Bureau

Twitter: @daveymontgomery

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