November 14, 2017


Have you ever planted a yard from scratch? Not the “lay down the sod squares” type of yard. I am talking about the scattering seeds, watering, and fertilizing type of planting a yard. My wife and I have owned several houses in our time, but we’ve only really planted one yard.

After a move to a new community in the late 1990s, we bought a lot that was within the city limits but had yet to be settled with homes. Ninety days after construction on our new house began, we were moving in. Moving day was Thanksgiving Day; well after the growing season for most grasses. Since we had spent good money leveling the ground around the house, I really didn’t want to lose the topsoil to erosion during the long winter, so I asked a friend what to do. His suggestion was to plant rye. Rye is technically a grain plant, but it is green in the fall and winter, and if a person mows regularly, it makes for a beautiful ground cover.

There is a real problem with ryegrass for a lawn, however; it dies in the spring. While all of the other lawns in town are beginning to green nicely, a rye lawn is dead-as-a-doornail. A trip back to my horticulturist friend taught me that I needed to till up the rye and plant Bermuda grass. Tilling rye grass is not too hard. The plant’s roots seem to grow straight, and the plants come up in little clumps. On the other hand, raking and disposing of dead rye plants become quite a chore! 

The planting of the Bermuda grass was very similar to planting the rye seeds. With lots of watering and some TLC, we soon had a nice, lush green Bermuda grass lawn that was easily the envy of the town. Later when my wife wanted trees in the front, I learned to appreciate the difference in Bermuda grass and rye. The Bermuda roots were growing intertwined, and the grass had runners that put down new roots as it spread. Much harder to remove!

I did realize, however, that the roots of the rye and the roots of the Bermuda grass served the same role. They gave the plants life! By absorbing water and nutrients from the soil and spreading them to the plant, the flora more than survived; it thrived!

Non-profit associations are only as strong as their membership. Members are to an association what roots are to a plant…the source of life. Quite often someone, often a politician on television, will refer to the “grassroots”. The dictionary defines the grassroots as “an organization’s most basic level of activity”. For TACS, school leaders are our grassroots. Your enthusiasm, your support, and yes, your needs are what give our organization life. We exist because of you and to support you!

There is another important function that the grassroots are serving in this day and time. That is inspiring, motivating, and encouraging the educators in your district to register to vote, to educate themselves on the issues and candidates, and then to vote in every election. In other words, in Texas we can create a culture of voting in the +1,000 ISDs only at the grassroots level.

In the March 2018, primary elections, Texas educators can be the difference in a state legislature that values their work, values learning, and values children, or one that does not. I know that each of you are working to create that culture of voting in your district. I heard a respected journalist in our state say during the last legislative session, “Of course educators are mad, but it is hard to stay mad for one year!” Your challenge as leaders of your school districts is to pace the message and the motivation to your staff so that their knowledge of the candidates, their enthusiasm to vote, and their determination to make a real difference for their students and for themselves peaks on February 20, 2018, the first day of early voting for the primary election (and the day we hope all educators decide to vote)!

Dale Carnegie once said, “When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade.” At this time in Texas, educators are sucking on a lemon! Lemonade? Well, that’s up to us!!


It’s time for the Fall Conference of the Coalition for Education Funding. The conference will again be held at the beautiful Omni Mandalay Hotel – 221 E. Las Colinas – Irving, Texas. The conference schedule is: 

Annual Conference Dinner – November 29, 2017 – 7:00 p.m. – at the hotel. 
Annual Conference – November 30, 2017 – 8:30-3:00 p.m. – breakfast and lunch are included.

Speakers for the conference this year are: 

Dr. Jamie Wilson & Dr. Guy Sconzo – Fast Growth School Coalition
David Thompson – Thompson & Horton, LLP
Barry Haenisch – Texas Association of Community Schools
Dr. Curtis Culwell – Moak, Casey & Associates/Texas School Alliance
Rep. Dan Huberty – Chair of House Public Education Committee (Invited)

The cost of the conference is $175 for members and $275 for non-members. 
You can register for the conference here.

Feel free to contact Dr. Charles Luke directly if you have any questions at 940-768-8594.



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Contact Information

Texas Association of Community Schools
1011 San Jacinto Blvd., Ste. 204
Austin, Texas 78701-2431
Phone: (512) 440-8227
Fax: (512) 442-6705