Alumni Making Waves

Our Austin Community: James Talarico

Jan 11, 2021

James Talarico, San Antonio 2011

Texas State Representative, District 52

How are you making an impact for kids, the community, or the network?

I started my educational career as a Teach for America Corps Member in 2011! I served as a 6th grade teacher at Rhodes Middle School (Go Wildcats!) on the westside of San Antonio. After I left the classroom, I served as Central Texas Executive Director for Reasoning Mind, an education nonprofit dedicated to equipping classrooms with 21st century technology.

Now, as a member of the Texas Legislature, I get to use my classroom experience to shape a wide-variety of education policies. In my first session, I introduced the Whole Student Agenda: a bipartisan 24-bill package addressing everything from mental health to restorative justice to sex ed. As a member of the House Public Education Committee, I helped write House Bill 3, historic school finance reform legislation which provided $11.6 billion in new funding for Texas public schools.

With Teach For America’s help, I went from serving 150 students in Room 112 at Rhodes Middle School to serving 5.5 million students on the Texas House Public Education Committee!

What do you hope to be true for Austin kids, community, and/or the alumni network 10 years from now?

I’m working for a day when every child in Texas can attend a public school that fully meets their physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Our current system is designed to maintain the current social and economic order, and it does that job pretty well. But together we can build a system of public education that upends that order and empowers each student to realize their fullest potential.

The goal of education is self-actualization. Children are naturally curious, inventive, and creative. Our schools should cultivate those God-given gifts that exist within every human being. Public education can be so much more than one’s academic performance, it can be about finding one’s deepest and truest self. To do that, our schools should nurture, expand, and inspire the mind and the heart. The question we should be asking our kids is not *what* you will be when you grow up, but *who* you will be when you grow up. That’s life’s most important question, and schools–at their best–can help our children answer it.

Learn more about State Representative James Talarico

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