About

Kim Burkett’s blog about Texas Kids Can’t Wait Legislative Report Card

IT’S REPORT CARD DAY FOR TEXAS LEGISLATORS … AND IT’S UGLY

gradesBy Kim Burkett, PTA Mom

Like many states, Texas loves grading its education system. The state has spent years slapping labels on public schools for standardized test results. We’ve labeled schools everything from “unacceptable” to “exemplary,” and next year we’ll even have a new A-F rating system used to brand our schools. Today, Texas Kids Can’t Wait turned the tables and labeled Texas’ state legislators by grading their support of public education in their first bi-annual legislative report card.

Texas Kids Can’t Wait is a statewide public education advocacy group founded by Democrats and Republicans to encourage equity, excellence, and adequacy for Texas’ students. The grassroots group works to educate citizens about challenges facing their schools and encourages legislative action to strengthen public education in Texas. After generations of school funding lawsuits, more than a decade of over-testing, and subversive attempts to undermine public schools through privatization efforts, Texas Kids Can’t Wait recognizes that Texas’ children don’t have the time to wait for legislators to find the political courage and will to finally do right by their schools. You can find more information about Texas Kids Can’t Wait here.

Using the same labels once used to grade public schools, (exemplary, recognized, acceptable, and unacceptable) the report card examines votes on 22 key bills from the last legislative session to identify each legislator’s support of public education issues. A team of researchers at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor evaluated voting records related to funding, privatization, various school voucher schemes, accountability and assessment, charter school expansion, and other education issues.

And the results? Let’s just say some of your elected representatives need to spend some time in summer school. According to Dr. Bonnie Lesley, co-founder of Texas Kids Can’t Wait, “What we saw in all these bills was a strong attack by about one-third of the legislators in the House and about one-fourth of the Senate on the vast majority of Texas’s five million public school students, on local control, on local school boards and educators, and on the whole concept of the common good.”

Here are some breakdowns of the ratings:

  • Unacceptable ratings were earned by 34% of House Representatives and 23% of Senators.
  • Positive ratings of Exemplary and Recognized were earned by 28% of House Representatives and 32% of Senators.
  • Senator Dan Patrick, Chair of the Senate Education Committee and current candidate for Lieutenant Governor, received the lowest ranking of any legislator in either chamber.
  • The strongest ranking in either chamber was earned by Senator Jose Rodriguez.
  • Representative Jimmie Don Aycock and Speaker Joe Straus received accolades for strong leadership in support of public education in the 83rd session.

How did your elected representative do? See the chart at the end of this blog.

So, what can you do with this data?

  • If you’re unhappy with your representative’s grade, ask them to explain why they didn’t make public education a priority last session. Encourage them to support public education issues in the future. You can find your state representative here.
  • If your representative’s grade doesn’t indicate a strong record for public education, re-consider your support or vote.
  • Seek and support pro-public education legislators. Thank them for their commitment to our schools.
  • Let legislators know that public education issues drive your voting decisions. (Education is one of the top issues facing the state according to polling data of Texans.)
  • Learn and share the names of the legislators who earned Unacceptable ratings. These are the politicians that seek to undermine public schools as demonstrated by their abysmal voting records. Let them know you will fight their attacks on the public education system that serves five million Texas children and employs 400,000 Texas teachers.
  • Be vocal in support of public education issues and legislation.
  • Above all — VOTE! Don’t miss a primary or general election. Texas’ students are counting on you.

There was a time, not so long ago, when it was expected that elected officials would support education. It was viewed as an important commitment to our future; vital to economic development. But times have changed, and today many for-profit and special interests have sought to undermine public education through a variety of legislative attacks. The outcome of those efforts is evident in this report card.

That’s why it has never been more critical to carefully evaluate legislators to ensure those who earn your vote will represent the interests of our children, our schools, and our teachers. Legislators without the foresight to see the disastrous impact a struggling public education system will have on Texas’ long-term economic future are not serving Texas’ interests. Legislators who ignore chronic over-testing and under-funding are not worthy of your support. It’s high time they’re sent home with a clear message that Texans demand better.

It’s time to support an education system worthy of a state like Texas. And it’s time to elect legislators committed to delivering it.

Texas Kids Can’t Wait Bi-Annual Legislative Report Card

House of Representatives – 83rd Legislative Session  

Representatives are listed alphabetically. For a listing based on ratings within each category as well as an understanding of the methodology used, please visit here.

Ratings Legislators
Exemplary
(7 of 150 representatives)
Collier, Nicole (District 95)
Farias, Joe (District 118)
Herrero, Abel (District 34)
Martinez Fischer, Trey (District 116)
Munoz, Jr., Sergio (District 36)
Pitts, Jim (District 10)
Reynolds, Ron (District 27)
Recognized
(35 of 150 representatives)
Allen, Alma (District 131)
Alonzo, Roberto (District 104)
Ashby, Trent (District 57)
Aycock, Jimmie Don (District 54)
Burnam, Lon (District 90)
Callegari, Bill (District 132)
Canales, Terry (District 40)
Cortez, Philip (District 117)
Dukes, Dawnna (District 46)
Farrar, Jessica (District 148)
Giddings, Helen (District 109)
Gonzalez, Mary (District 75)
Gutierrez, Roland (District 119)
Howard, Donna (District 48)
Huberty, Dan (District 127)
Longoria, Oscar (District 35)
Martinez, Armando (District 39)
McClendon, Ruth Jones (District 120)
Miles, Borris (District 146)
Moody, Joe (District 78)
Nevarez, Poncho (District 74)
Oliveira, Rene (District 37)
Patrick, Diane (District 94)
Perez, Mary Ann (District 144)
Phillips, Larry (District 62)
Price, Four (District 87)
Rodriguez, Eddie (District 51)
Rodriguez, Justin (District 125)
Rose, Toni (District 110)
Sheffield, J. D.  (District 59)
Straus, Joe (District 121, Speaker)
Thompson, Senfronia (District 141)
Turner, Sylvester (District 129)
Vo, Hubert (District 149)
Walle, Armando (District 140)
Acceptable
(57 of 150 representatives)
Alvarado, Carol (District 145)
Anderson, Charles (District 56)
Bonnen, Dennis (District 25)
Coleman, Garnet (District 147)
Cook, Byron (District 8)
Crownover, Myra (District 64)
Darby, Drew (District 72)
Davis, Sarah (District 124)
Davis, Yvonne (District 111)
Deshotel, Joe (District 22)
Dutton, Jr., Harold (District 142)
Eiland, Craig (District 23)
Farney, Marsha (District 20)
Frullo, John (District 84)
Geren, Charlie (District 99)
Gonzales, Larry (District 52)
Gonzalez, Naomi (District 76)
Guerra, Bobby (District 41)
Guillen, Ryan (District 31)
Harless, Patricia (District 126)
Hernandez, Ana (District 143)
Hunter, Todd (District 32)
Johnson, Eric (District 100)
Kacal, Kyle (District 12)
Keffer, James (District 60)
King, Ken (District 88)
King, Susan (District 71)
King, Tracy (District 80)
Kleinschmidt, Tim (District 17)
Kuempel, John (District 44)
Larson, Lyle (District 122)
Lewis, Tryon (District 81)
Lozano, J. M. (District 43)
Marquez, Marisa (District 77)
Menendez, Jose (District 124)
Miller, Doug (District 73)
Murphy, Jim (District 133)
Naishtat, Elliott (District 49)
Orr, Rob (District 58)
Otto, John (District 18)
Paddie, Chris (District 9)
Perry, Charles (District 83)
Pickett, Joe (District 79)
Raney, John (District 14)
Ratliff, Bennett (District 115)
Raymond, Richard (District 42)
Sheffield, Ralph (District 55)
Smith, Wayne (District 128)
Stephenson, Phil (District 85)
Strama, Mark (District 50)
Turner, Chris (District 101)
Villalba, Jason (District 114)
Villarreal, Mike (District 123)
White, James (District 19)
Workman, Paul (District 47)
Wu, Gene (District 137)
Zerwas, John (District 28)
Unacceptable
(51 of 150 representatives)
Anchia, Rafael (District 103)
Bell, Cecil(District 3)
Bohac, Dwayne (District 138)
Bonnen, Greg (District 24)
Branch, Dan (District 108)
Burkett, Cindy (District 113)
Button, Angie Chen (District 112)
Capriglione, Giovanni (District 98)
Carter, Stefani (District 102)
Clardy, Travis (District 11)
Craddick, Tom (District 82)
Creighton, Brandon (District 16)
Dale, Tony (District 136)
Davis, John E. (District 129)
Elkins, Gary (District 135)
Fallon, Pat (District 106)
Fletcher, Allen (District 130)
Flynn, Dan (District 2)
Frank, James (District 69)
Goldman, Craig (District 97)
Gooden, Lance (District 4)
Harper-Brown, Linda (District 105)
Hilderbran, Harvey (District 53)
Hughes, Bryan (District 5)
Issac, Jason (District 45)
King, Phil (District 61)
Klick, Stephanie (District 91)
Kolkhorst, Lois (District 13)
Krause, Matt (District 93)
Laubenberg, Jodie (District 89)
Lavender, George (District 1)
Leach, Jeff (District 67)
Lucio III, Eddie (District 38)
Miller, Rick (District 26)
Morrison, Geanie W. (District 30)
Parker, Tan (District 63)
Riddle, Debbie (District 150)
Ritter, Allan (District 21)
Sanford, Scott (District 70)
Schaefer, Matt (District 6)
Sheets, Kenneth (District 107)
Simmons, Ron (District 65)
Simpson, David (District 7)
Smithee, John (District 86)
Springer, Drew (District 68)
Stickland, Jonathan (District 92)
Taylor, Van (District 66)
Thompson, Ed (District 29)
Toth, Steve (District 15)
Turner, Scott (District 33)
Zedler, Bill (District 96)

Senate – 83rd Legislative Session

Senators are listed alphabetically. For a listing based on ratings within each category as well as an understanding of the methodology used, please visit here. 

Ratings Legislators
Exemplary
(2 of 31 senators)
Garcia, Sylvia (District 6)
Rodriguez, Jose (District 29)
Recognized
(9 of 31 senators)
Deuell, Bob (District 2)
Davis, Wendy (District 10)
Ellis, Rodney (District 13)
Nichols, Robert (District 3)
Seliger, Kel (District 31)
Uresti, Carlos (District 19)
Watson, Kirk (District 14)
Williams, Tommy (District 4)
Zaffirini, Judith (District 21)
Acceptable
(13 of 31 senators)
Carona, John (District 16)
Duncan, Robert (District 28)
Eltife, Kevin (District 1)
Estes, Craig (District 30)
Fraser, Tony (District 24)
Hancock, Kelly (District 9)
Hinojosa, Juan “Chuy” (District 20)
Huffman, Joan (District 17)
Lucio, Eddie (District 27)
Nelson, Jane (District 12)
Schwertner, Charles (District 5)
Van de Putte, Leticia (District 26)
Whitmire, John (District 15)
Unacceptable
(7of 31 senators)
Birdwell, Brian (District 22)
Campbell, Donna (District 25)
Hegar, Glenn (District 18)
Paxton, Ken (District 8)
Patrick, Dan (District 7)
Taylor, Larry (District 11)
West, Royce (District 23)
Dewhurst, David (Lt. Governor)

Founder of Organization for Child Education Equity Will Speak at Baylor

Dr. Bonnie Lesley

Jan. 24, 2014

Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMediaCom

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas (Jan. 24, 2014) – The Baylor Academy for Leader Development will host Bonnie Lesley, Ed.D., founder of Texas Kids Can’t Wait, as she presents her topic, “Creating Equity in Education,” Tuesday, Jan. 28.

The Texas Kids Can’t Wait organization advocates for equity, excellence and adequacy for children in the Texas school system.

“One of our major strategies is to provide information so that all interested Texans can learn how the Texas school funding system works – and how it does not work for the vast majority of our kids,” says the organization’s website. “We will conduct public forums and communicate in as many ways as possible to spread the word.”

Lesley’s lecture marks the first of the three-part Academy Lecture Series. “Every year we invite three leaders to campus to talk about their personal journey,” said Jennifer Massey, assistant dean for student learning & engagement in Baylor’s division of student life.

Massey said she is excited to have Lesley speak on campus, since students in the department’s course on leadership and social justice “are being engaged in a lot of conversations right now about leadership and social change and its relationship.

“(The organization) is right here in Waco and the work that they’re doing is having a significant impact at the state level,” Massey said. “What a great opportunity for students to meet somebody who cares about education, who wants all students to have a great education, . . . right here in their backyard, right here in Waco.”

Attendees will learn more about the decisions being made about public education and about “some of the structural factors that are leading to inequitable opportunity for K through 12 students,” Massey said.

Upcoming lectures in the Academy Lecture Series this spring include Laurie Schreiner, Ph.D., who will present her topic, “Fostering Student Thriving” Feb. 18; Pastor Bob Fu on “Freedom of Religious Expression in China” March 4.; and Tomi Grover, Ph.D., with “Educating, Advocating and Engaging in the Issue of Human Trafficking” March 24. For more information on this and upcoming lectures, please click here.

by Rachel Miller, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Bonnie Lesley and Linda Ethridge–Presentation in Lewisville ISD, Jan. 23, 2013

http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=texas+kids+can%27t+wait&ei=UTF-8&fr=clearspringsf

Dale Caffey’s Interview with Linda Ethridge and Bonnie Lesley, Oct. 2012

Go to this link:  http://www.wacoisd.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=428&pageId=59639

TEXAS KIDS CAN’T WAIT supports the following:

(1)  Adequate funding is enough funding so that every Texas school has the resources to provide every child with the instruction and support that he or she needs to achieve the state’s standards and for every school to be rated as least “Acceptable” in the Texas accreditation system.

(2)  Equitable funding is funding that is necessary to teach each child according to his or her needs, regardless of the zip code in which he or she lives.  Students who typically require more or differentiated opportunities to learn include those with learning disabilities, those with physical handicaps that impede their ability to learn, those who have not yet become proficient in English, those who live in economically disadvantaged homes and neighborhoods, teen parents, those who are enrolled in career/technical education programs, and those identified as gifted/talented.

(3)  Additional money annually appropriated that takes into account inflation and numbers of additional students.

(4)  Taxpayer equity means that, regardless of where a taxpayer lives, a penny of tax ought to yield the same amount of revenue for the schools as does a penny of tax in a wealthy district.

TEXAS KIDS CAN’T WAIT opposes any form of education privatization:

Privatization is a political strategy to eliminate from state budgets the cost of most or all of educating Texas children in the public schools.  Among the strategies to take money out of the public schools and transfer it to private or parochial entities are the following:  home schoolscharter schoolsvouchers for a designated population, such as economically disadvantaged students; “universal” vouchers available to any child of school age; virtual (or distance or online) learningeducation savings accounts (in other words, self-funded accounts to pay private school tuition for prek-12, not just college); and parent triggers (encouraging parents to take over a school, remove it from a school district, and run it themselves).

Texas Kids Can’t Wait!  by Bonnie A. Lesley

When we were working on the Money Does Matter:  Investing in Texas Children and Our Future publication for the Equity Center two years ago, we called for political action at the local level to influence legislators’ votes in the 2011 session.  Some groups were formed, but, for the most part, they operated quietly in the background since probably no one could imagine at that time that Texas would enact one of the most austere school funding bills in the nation.

Now we know for sure that grassroots action is critically important! After the 2011 session, no one is in doubt. No amount of information provided at the state level has the leverage with legislators that grassroots organizations have. It takes both! After all, we still do have a democratic form of government, and it always works best when we at local levels educate, organize, register voters, donate money to campaigns, influence policy advocacy during primaries and the general elections, apply pressure, and hold our representatives accountable for the results we want to see.

We have seen several organizations formed since state leaders did their dirty deeds of abandoning their responsibilities for Texas children. Save Our Schools has successfully rallied large numbers of people for state-wide protests, and we are reading of locally organized groups who are influencing the state’s conversation about school funding. We have been grateful as well for the out-front leadership provided by superintendents. Importantly, we are seeing more and more publications, such as daily newspapers like the Waco Tribune-Herald and Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, news magazines like The Texas Observer, and online publications like The Texas Tribune paying attention to the gross and unconstitutional disparities that exist in school funding and in taxpayer rates—and the costs to kids.

But much more must occur! We can win the litigation that we are involved in, but if we do not have well-organized, informed citizens in every legislative district, we will emerge again from the legislative sessions with such nightmares as “target hold harmless revenue,” weighted-student formulas that underestimate need, unequalized “enrichment” funding, and continued denial of the detrimental effects of poverty on children’s learning, health, and social behavior.

So. What to do? A few Waco friends and I decided to organize and to organize smart! We remembered Margaret Mead’s wisdom: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” Texas isn’t the world, but it sometimes seems like it since it is so big.

We decided to launch our organization, Texas Kids Can’t Wait, with a state-wide education campaign about how schools are funded, who gets what and how, and why money matters in ensuring kids’ opportunities to learn. Our name connotes the urgency that we feel.

In the years that it will take to correct the legislation coming out of the Orange Cove decision, this current biennium of austerity, and the subsequent years to litigate, appeal, and then get a decent bill out of the legislature, a whole generation of kids will have spent their K-12 years in an underfunded, unfair, and unconstitutional system. People in Waco are in shock at this time with the cuts that occurred this year in numbers of teachers, resulting in larger class sizes; in fewer instructional materials; in abandoned programs; and in dreams deferred. Just this past month the Board of Education voted to close NINE of our schools, and some of them are among Waco’s highest performing schools.

Our “Did You Know?” campaign reflects my experience when I was doing the research for Money Does Matter, I used every opportunity with family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and people I had just met to ask the following:
“Did you know that the lowest funded district in Texas gets $10,000 less per kid than the highest funded district?”
“Did you know that if Waco were allotted even the state’s average WADA that we would have received $11,000,000 more dollars in one year?”
“Did you know that Fort Worth ISD receives $114,000,000 fewer dollars per year than Austin ISD with similarly sized enrollments?”
“Did you know that Texas educates 10% of the nation’s children?”
“Did you know that Hispanic school children in Texas are 22% of all the Hispanic school children in the United States?”
“Did you know that there is a direct and positive correlation in percent of Texas kids passing all TAKS tests and the funding level of their schools?”
“Did you know that there is a direct and positive correlation in the dropout rate and the funding level of schools?”
“Did you know that a Schott Foundation study found that Texas ranks 43rd among the states in disadvantaged kids’ opportunity to learn? According to the study, Texas’s negligence in this area costs us $6.8 billion annually in lost earnings of dropouts, losses in costs of health care, crime-related costs, and reduction in taxes paid.”
“Did you know that Texas ranks 33rd among the states in average teacher salaries?”
“Did you know that Texas ranks 49th in the amount of per-student spending on education?”

In every single case, including conversations with educators, people did NOT know these facts, and they were outraged that they didn’t know. Goal 1, therefore, is to make sure people know. We want to stir up that outrage and then channel it into positive action on behalf of children.

Our first planned steps include the following:

Focus. For now, we anticipate that our major focus will be school finance. Depending upon the ideas of our members, we may want to expand our agenda to include other issues, such as the issue of the growing movement toward total privatization of education (home schools, charters, vouchers, parent triggers, virtual schools, education savings accounts, etc.), which we see as a major threat to democracy as well as being extremely detrimental to kids. This issue is closely related to school finance. We are also concerned about the maniacal emphasis on assessments for accountability, rather than an emphasis on continuous progress monitoring to improve learning. These issues will resonate with people. A front-page story in the Waco Tribune-Herald recently told the story of a family so opposed to STAAR that they kept their children home on test days and refused to allow them to take make-up tests. Letters to the editor so far have been supportive of their decision.

Ensure Diversity. We feel strongly that we must build an organization that is inclusive. We will be political, but we will be multi-partisan. We know that polls indicate strong support for public education and adequate/equitable funding among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We will include African American, Hispanic, and other minorities in our community, as well as Whites in our leadership. We will reach out to retired members of our community and to high school and college students. Our members will come from all walks of life.

Media. We have created our webpage so that we can invite people to join and to participate in our activities. We will provide critical information to the public about our objectives, our activities, and event details. We will also post links to information about Waco ISD and other districts in the county and across the state, general information sources about education issues, newspaper articles across the state, studies, etc. We also plan to produce a YouTube video series. Follow us on Twitter @txkidscantwait. Email us at texaskidscantwait@gmail.com.

“Did You Know?” Campaign. We will conduct School Funding 101 sessions for our members, for people not yet members across the state, and for citizen groups (clubs, organizations, churches, etc.). We will provide people access via our website to the information at the Equity Center, the Texas Association of School Boards, the Texas Association of School Administrators, the Texas Education Agency, and other organizations.

Outreach. We will begin immediately to start talking with leaders in the 20 school districts in McLennan County and in the school districts in our state legislative districts. They will be invited to join us or to start groups in their own districts. We will start with people we personally know and with organizations that we know will be supportive: PTA, retired teachers, teachers’ associations, student leadership organizations, Waco’s Education Alliance, Avance, NAACP, LULAC, school program advisory committees, business leaders, people at Waco’s three colleges, religious leaders, and so on. We need to become big in order to influence legislators and candidates.

We also want to be affiliated with groups existing elsewhere across the state so that we can all join hands in strategies for success and in sharing information and resources. We will be available to lend our support to groups wishing to organize in other Texas communities.

Organization. When the time is right, we will formally organize. We will need officers, dues (but minimal), bylaws, a bank account, etc. We will be happy to share with other groups what we learn along the way. If we decide to raise funds to support candidates, we will need to form a PAC (political action committee). We have also discussed looking into a 501(c)3 and/or 501(c)4 organizational structure. Wonderful volunteers are helping with this work.

Activities. We are planning a voter registration drive, helping people get voter IDs, attending county and state political party conventions, conducting candidate forums, and teaching our members how to make their voices heard. In order to influence how school board members, Texas School Board of Education, and legislators think and vote, we know we have to participate politically—in both parties.

The Future. All of us recognize that we are in this for the long haul. It will take a long time to secure adequate/equitable funding for Texas schools, and it will take a long time to repair the damage to kids’ lives, to the education profession, and to sound education policy and practice. We also recognize that nothing ever stays “fixed” permanently. We cannot again let down our guard. We must be vigilant in our oversight of policymakers, and we must hold them accountable for their decisions. The $5.4 Billion in cuts in 2011-13 to the education of Texas children cannot be forgotten.

Texas Kids Can’t Wait! is a rallying cry for Waco and across the state. Superintendents and school board members are not necessarily the ones who should do the organizing themselves and be the faces of the reforms we seek. You can, however, in the background, encourage “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” to do so—and, together, we can change our state so that people “don’t mess with Texas” again! Do it now!

Dr. Bonnie Lesley is the author of Money Does Matter:  Investing in Texas Children and Our Future (2010) and Money Still Matters:  Investing in Texas Children and the Great State of Texas (2012).  She taught 17 years, and she served as an administrator in five urban school districts and one state department of education. She has served as an adjunct professor in curriculum at five universities. She is the parent of a son and the grandmother of three grandsons and one granddaughter.  She can be reached via email at balesley@aol.com or texaskidscantwait@gmail.com or by calling 254-848-4483.

Linda Ethridge, co-founder of Texas Kids Can’t Wait, has been a classroom teacher, a member and president of the Waco ISD school board, a member of Waco’s City Council, and mayor for two terms. She is the mother of three sons and the grandmother of two grandsons.  She can be reached via email at lethridge@hot.rr.com or by calling 254-776-9949.

Texas Kids Can’t Wait moves forward, October 2012

 by Bonnie A. Lesley, Ed.D.

“I had no idea!” has been the most common reaction that we have heard from participants as we have begun our ongoing series of public forums.  These forums are designed as our first and major strategy to educate our communities about the inequities and inadequacies in the Texas school finance system and the effects of the $5.4 billion in cuts to the 2011-2013 biennium education budget.

Texas Kids Can’t Wait started conversations with a circle of friends and acquaintances in early spring 2012 to plan for a fall launch of advocacy activities relating to the funding of Texas public schools.  We talked individually with scores of community leaders.  We met with Dr. Bonny Cain, superintendent, and Mr. Pat Atkins, president of the Waco ISD school board.  And we asked each of our early members at each meeting to bring their colleagues, friends, and families to the next meeting, so we have grown exponentially over a short period of time.  Our accomplishments thus far include:

Membership Training and Public Forums

  • A training session on School Finance 101 for our members, conducted by John Hubbard, to give us the background knowledge that we needed to design our own presentation and to be able to answer the public’s questions.
  • Four scheduled public forums in October in the Waco ISD middle schools, in collaboration with the League of  Women Voters and Waco ISD.
  • One forum for the Bellmead Lions Club in collaboration with Dr. Sharon Shields, superintendent of La Vega ISD.
  • A strategy conversation scheduled for late October with Bell County superintendents, hosted by Dr. Robert Muller, superintendent of Killeen ISD.
  • A forum scheduled in early November for Bosqueville ISD and China Spring ISD, in collaboration with Mr. James Hopper and Mr. Jason McCullough, superintendents of those districts.
  • Presentation scheduled for the Waco Education Alliance conference on November 15, in collaboration with Dr. Ray Freeman of the Equity Center.
  • Developing expertise on the growing privatization threats so that we can fight against these proposals relating to home schools, virtual schools, charter schools, vouchers for designated populations, universal vouchers (Sen. Dan Patrick’s newest plan), education savings accounts, and the so-called parent triggers.

In the News/Media

  • Article in the Spring 2012 In-Depth Newsletter of the Equity Center.
  • Two news stories by Wendy Gragg in the Waco Tribune-Herald—one about our initial training session and one about our October forums in Waco.
  • Three great editorials by Bill Whitaker in the Waco Tribune-Herald that endorse our work.
  • A video interview conducted by Dale Caffey of Waco ISD for the Waco ISD television station and posted as well on the home page of their website.  Go to http://www.wacoisd.org to read the story and view the video.
  • Participation in the September conference of TASA/TASB, where we made lots of good contacts.
  • Three mentions in “Joe’s Commentaries” on www.texasisd.com about the work we are doing, thanks to Dr. Joe Smith.

Politics

  • Face-to-face meetings with Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson and Sen. Brian Birdwell, McLennan County’s representatives in the legislature.  Too, one of Rep. Anderson’s staff attended our initial training session, and one of Sen. Birdwell’s staff attended our first public forum in Waco.
  • Face-to-face meeting with the Waco mayor, Mr. Malcolm Duncan.
  • Invited to participate in the October meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of the Waco Mayor and City Council members and the Waco ISD superintendent and school board members.  Mayor Duncan offered to set up a meeting of other mayors of cities in Texas Senate District 22 to discuss strategy for communicating with legislators in support of adequate/equitable funding.  We provided graphs on each of the districts with comparative data on poverty and revenue per WADA, as well as a hypothetical graph on the amount of money each district would receive if funded at the average of their county, of the districts in the senatorial district, of Texas districts, and of wealthier school districts nearby.

Communication

  • Established a Twitter account and made conscious effort to “follow” as many Texans and Texas organizations as possible, as well as leaders in education across the country.  Follow us @txkidscantwait.
  • Set up our own email account:  texaskidscantwait@gmail.com.
  • Established our own webpage, which we pledge to update frequently:  http://www.texaskidscantwait.org .  You will find in our web pages lots of information about our organization, a way to join us, links to like-minded organizations’ webpages, postings of relevant news articles, an event calendar, and, of course, a blog.  Recent tweets are linked to the webpage.

Organization

  • Identified a marketing specialist who provides us with some pro bono services (i.e., the design of our logo, purchasing of buttons to wear at gatherings, advising us on messaging, etc.).
  • Identified some lawyers who are, pro bono, helping us with our applications for 501(c)3 status so that we can receive donations for our community education activities and a 501(c)4 organization for lobbying.
  • Currently working on a plan to fund our activities over time.

From the beginning we knew that organizing only in Waco could never sufficiently impact the votes in the legislature.  We knew that we needed to be a statewide organization—or we needed to develop a network/collaboration among like-minded organizations that are springing up across the state.  We are seeking to identify all those groups, especially those with grassroots, so that we can build some collaborative strategies before the 2013 legislative session.

Our invitation to all Equity Center school districts:

  • If you would like a presentation in your community about the work of Texas Kids Can’t Wait and how to start a local group, please just let us know at texaskidscantwait@gmail.com.   Or give this article to some community members and ask them to contact us.
  • If you would like copies of our slide presentation so that you can use the slides to organize people in your area, let us know.
  • If you know of like-minded organizations in your area or anywhere in the state that are not already listed as links on our webpage, please let us know.
  • Please use our website as a repository of information and research on the issues that concern us all relating to school funding and the threat of privatization.  We also invite your comments on our blogs.