I made it to the luncheon held by Pastors For Texas Children in Dallas June 17 safe and sound. And home again to Montgomery. A quick, but fruitful, trip and glad I went. I have mentioned this organization several times. Begun a few years ago by Baptist minister Charlie Johnson, the group has nearly 2,000 affiliated churches who not only partner with local public schools, but advocate for them in the state legislature.
As Charlie says, “It is amazing the reception you get when you show up in a legislator’s office and say pastor so and so is here.”
This year Texas increased their public education budget by $6 BILLION and Pastors For Texas Children played a role in this effort. Two freshman senators who were key to this budget increase attended the luncheon. Both defeated incumbent anti-public school senators in 2018. Charlie’s organization, along with many others, were involved in these campaigns.
Similar groups to the one in Texas have now been formed in Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky.
We need to follow suit in Alabama. Charlie would be glad to speak to ministers in Alabama. (He has a special interest in Alabama since the grew up in Monroe County.) If you know a minister who might be interested, please let me know.
Something that has long fascinated me about Texas is the number of public school advocacy groups they have. I’m not talking about groups like our School Superintendents of Alabama or the Alabama Association of School Boards. Texas has these. But they have groups like the Texas Parent PAC, Friends of Texas Public Schools, Texas Kids Can’t Wait, Texans for Public Schools, etc. All of these are driven by non-educators.
People who believe in public education and are glad to advocate for them. If we have even one such organization in Alabama, I am unaware of them.
After nearly 20 years of watching charter school spread like a grass fire, there is now substantial pushback against them in Texas. And for the first time ever, superintendents in local school districts are raising their voices.
This was very evident on June 14 when the state board of education heard a lot of testimony opposing new charter applications. (This was when Soner Tarim, who has the management contracts for Woodland Prep in Washington County and LEAD Academy in Montgomery, was turned down in this attempt to open new charters in Austin.)
Speaking of Tarim, I mentioned his name to a number of folks at the luncheon. Let’s just say no one thought of him warmly, which may be why he is trying so hard to establish a presence in Alabama.
One of the first people I met at the event was Anette Carlisle of Amarillo. When she learned I was from Alabama she immediately told me her in-laws were from Washington County and asked me if I knew where it was. I grinned and told her that I do indeed.
Finally, as I do on most of my ventures, I drove. And while I had to admit it, Father time is most certainly extracting a toll from my body. The miles don’t roll by like they once did and every stop is a challenge to just stretch the kinks and make sure my legs still work. All just a not-so-subtle reminder that I have a lot more yesterdays than tomorrows.