With school bells already ringing for some local school districts, parents and students are returning to their usual routine of going to bed early, limiting screen time and setting up homework stations to ensure that This school year is off to a good start. And while routine and stability contribute to a student’s success, the biggest indicator is rooted in their backpacks.
According to Backpacks USA, arriving at school equipped with the proper supplies for the school day helps students feel confident in their ability to function and succeed in the classroom. Students who acquire the resources to use without depending on others are able to gain increased independence and confidence in their academics.
Great value being prepared
There is great value in being prepared. That’s why since 2015, I’ve been working with many local organizations to improve access to school supplies for students in my neighborhood. Our efforts help students prepare for the upcoming school year and allow parents to cross off one of the many back-to-school “must-have” items.
Each year, our office combs through the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Economically Disadvantaged Situation Reports to identify schools and students in El Paso who need help as they return to the classroom. Based on these reports, we work with our local school districts to identify the tangible items each student will need for a successful school day – including highlighters, pencils, pens, and tech gear like headphones or earphones. .
With local organizations dedicated to equipping students for success, such as AT&T, GECU. Marathon Petroleum, Target, Walmart, PepsiCo, The Borderplex Alliance, Texas Gas Service, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of El Paso, we collected and donated these supplies, along with backpacks to carry them in. And we didn’t stick them with a boring bag they wouldn’t want to hang in their locker! We went with the fun patterns and colors that the students could choose from! This year, we marked 3,151 backpacks.
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Families need relief from rising costs
We have directed our 2022 efforts toward students at Frank Macias, Presidio, and Pasodale Elementary Schools and other schools located in Senate District 29. We understand the stress these students face, and their families are real. Now more than ever, our families need relief from the rising cost of living and school supplies. It is important to relieve an essential burden from the plate of a child and their parents.
In addition to providing our elementary students with materials to use in school, local leaders are also working to meet the needs of older students, many of whom are more reliant on tech tools to manage their education. These students need access to high-speed Internet connections to manage their online assignments, conduct research, submit assignments electronically, and more.
To that end, I want to remind our families in El Paso that the federal government has unveiled a new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to help ensure that households can access the broadband they need for work, school, health care, etc. Coupled with some ISP-based programs, the CPA could bring the cost of Internet access for eligible households down to $0 per month. This is great news for our students as they return to school and continue to depend on a robust and reliable internet.
In closing, all students in our community deserve the same opportunity as their peers to get the school supplies they need to feel confident and succeed.
I wish all of our students, teachers and support staff the best for the 2022-2023 school year.
Senator César J. Blanco, D-El Paso, represents Texas State District 29.