Aledo Letter Writing Campaign Sparks Statewide Movement

ALEDO (CBSDFW.COM) – Teachers across the state are refusing to wait for lawmakers to fix money problems plaguing hundreds of school districts. Some teachers, along with students and parents, are participating in a letter writing campaign to battle proposed budget cuts.

Some questioned the effectiveness of a letter writing campaign so CBS 11 News took a look at what the “power of the pen” has done in the past.

About 22 miles west of Fort Worth, nestled in what the locals call Bearcat Country, sits the small city of Aledo. The school district serves some 4,600 students and employs about 400 teachers and staff.

The state’s budget shortfall has the Aledo Independent School District facing a deficit between $3 and $6 million. For a district with so few employees, that’s a big deal.

“$3 million. A $50,000 an average salary, that’s 60 employees [lost],” explained Aledo ISD Superintendent Don Daniel.

This isn’t the first time Aledo has been between a rock and a hard place. Last year the district had similar money problems and was poised to layoff 58 teachers and staff. That time, members of the staff volunteered to take a pay cut and saved all but two of those jobs.

Aledo school board member Bobby J. Rigues says it was during that time that the idea of a letter writing campaign was born. “What a better way than to help solve the issue by involving our community,” he said.

Last June in Aledo, a tent was set up in the middle of town and for five days straight citizens promoted an effort that would become known as the Making Education a Priority letter writing campaign.

The letters were addressed to the education finance committee and lawmakers in Austin. The school board also passed a resolution with a simple message: make education a priority. “We ended up with over 2500 letters,” said Daniels. “The community saw the value and started to tell each other.”

The citizens of Aledo had no idea how people would respond to their grassroots effort, but it spread like wildfire. One-by-one school districts adopted the ‘Making Education a Priority’ resolution, sparking something that had never happened before.

“It unified school districts,” explained Rigues. “In the state of Texas, this type of grassroots movement with school districts has never been accomplished before, with a unified voice.”

With more than 1,000 school districts in Texas, that unified voice was a big one. More than half of the districts in the state have now signed on to adopt the resolution.

Denison ISD was among the first to join the campaign, writing 2,500 letters. While the Comstock ISD serves only 200 students, they wrote 100 letters. Carroll ISD held a letter writing campaign in late January and mega-school districts like Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth are also on board.

On January 30 school leaders from around the state delivered more than 8,000 letters to state lawmakers and there are more pouring in.

One letter from a person in Grand Prairie read, “I write this letter not only as a grandparent of children within the Texas public school system but as a Texas citizen.”

School districts continue to adopt the resolution and join the unified voice in hopes lawmakers will hear it.

One educator put it bluntly; “Our Texas constitution states that a free and adequate education must be made available to our children. With all do respect, it doesn’t say if funds are available.”

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  • Joe

    Let them all do like I have to do, cut spending. Teachers are overpaid in this area (around $50K to start) and make way more than police and firefighters by the hour. And what about the football programs? Are any of them taking big hits? No.

    • Thomas

      Teachers are overpaid? That’s pretty blind-sighted. Go teach a class of middle schoolers for a couple of days and open your eyes. Deal with state mandates, Deal with bureaucracy. Deal with higher benefit costs than most in the private sector. Open one’s eyes. I decided to do it as a second career several years ago, after a operations management job that paid more, had better benefits, but there was a need so I decided to contribute back. Opened mine. Overpaid? Just go try it.

      • Thomas

        And btw, we had a group of firefighters on duty at our campus for weeks until an alarm could be fixed. They, and most campus cops will tell you the same. They actually did experience it. Seriously. Go sign up as a sub and try it.

  • USA!!!!!

    You voted for it. Keep voting for the GOP and soon you won’t be able to vote anymore.

    • me

      Exactly!! I wonder how many of the people writing letters voted for a GOP candidate??

  • SocialStrain

    I’m intimately saddened by the prospect that this continuing collapse at scale is causing. If you could map the rises and falls of civilizations, you’d find an acceleration of collapses that recent communism has shifted to capitalism, and continues to spiral downward to a Singularity.

    And if you’re really good, you can predict a major fall where, like the dinosaurs before us, humans will contend with such widespread contractions.

    A more sustainable math that is widely distributed would curb such devastating effects, but many of my peer scientists believe we are past a tipping point to where we can only ‘do the best we can’ in contracting along with the collapse.

    Downscale as best you can.

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