An Amazing Experience

I have been politically involved most of my adult life.  Texas Kids Can’t Wait is not the first organization that I have helped found, and I’ve been a member of many more.

But I can tell you this.  I have never seen an idea become a movement so quickly.  We talked to a relatively small group of people for a couple or three months as we were trying to define ourselves and decide how to proceed.  Then, in September, when we started conducting the public forums, when the Waco Tribune-Herald published great news stories and editorials about us, and when Waco ISD did the video interview of us, we were adding members so quickly that it became difficult to get them all recorded.

We added more people when Diane Ravitch mentioned us in her blog and when John Kuhn, superintendent of Perrin-Whitt ISD mentioned us in an interview of him conducted by the Dallas Morning News.

We did not have a website or an email address or a Twitter account until late September.  And we added the Facebook page just last week.  These media have enabled us to grow much more quickly too, with new names coming to us daily not only from Waco, but across the state.

In November our membership quadrupled!  A chunk of those new people came from the people who attended the presentation on school funding at the Greater Waco Education Alliance Summit.

It is gratifying, to say the least, that so many people out there are eager for an opportunity to join with others to save the public schools in Texas from privatization and to secure adequate and equitable funding for them!

It has also been gratifying that people have helped in some really important ways.  A marketing guru in Waco is contributing his time and resources to help us.  Another business is doing our printing for us absolutely free.  The Equity Center has been great in answering our questions, providing us with needed data, and giving us support to its members.  They have published two articles about us in their newsletters.  So many of you are helping by identifying other potential members and sending to us the contact information.  Many of you have been personally responsible for getting us an invitation to speak with a group. Some have even hosted events in their homes. Others have made arrangements for meeting space.  And a really solid and committed core group meets once or twice a month to continue to learn together and to make decisions about next steps.

During this past week I have concentrated on identifying the leadership of several other like-minded organizations across the state.  We have thrown together an informal meeting next week in Austin for some of us to plan a meeting of as many as we can identify in January for a strategic planning session on how to leverage the strengths and people power of all the organizations to support our legislative agenda.  We have also signed on to be co-sponsors with other groups for the rally planned for Feb. 23 on the Capitol grounds.

Our membership is soaring.  Our collaboration list continues to grow.  We are talking to more and more people every day.

It has all been exhausting, but joyful and meaningful work.  An amazing experience!

The legislature will convene on January 9 and will be in session through May or into June.  The test of our effectiveness as an advocacy group begins now.  We are confident that the members we already have will stick with us and that we will continue to grow in influence.  We need everyone to keep sending those names with contact information, to be proactive with letters to the editor of local papers, to contact legislators and tell them how you hope they will vote, and to schedule forums–as many as we can physically do!  But buckle your seat belts.  I think it is going to be a bumpy ride!  (Bonnie Lesley)

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