Think back to your favorite high school memories. Chances are, they involve sports or extracurricular competitions like debate, theatre, science or even chess. For charter school students, they don’t always have that choice. Sometimes they have to give up the extracurricular experience to choose the charter school opportunity. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
John Bucy, himself a charter school graduate still in his twenties, decided to change that. Several years ago he founded the Texas Charter School Academic and Athletic League (TCSAAL), which now has 150 charter school members in Texas. Their mission is to create competition leagues for charter school sports and academic challenges. The staff of the League support teacher/coaches by doing all the logistics, from scheduling games, booking facilities, and ordering equipment to offering professional development for coaches. The League is funded by member school dues.
On June 11 I had the opportunity to keynote the annual conference of teachers, coaches, and athletic directors of TCSAAL, located just one block from the state capitol in Austin, Texas. I was inspired by what I learned. This League is unique in the country—every charter school state needs one! Their conference theme, “Preparing for Success” was so appropriate, because coaches are instrumental in teaching skills beyond the classroom that prepare students for success. Personally, I’m grateful for my speech coaches in high school who helped prepare me for a career in politics, before I ever imagined such a journey.
These teacher coaches love this organization and its support. They are loyal members! Their special talents are valued. I loved visiting with attendees, most of whom wore multiple coaching hats in their schools.
I am also grateful to Andrew Kimball and S & S Worldwide, who sponsored my visit to the conference and provided my book, Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story to all attendees. S & S Worldwide is a strong charter school supporter, supplying physical education and sports equipment, classroom supplies, furniture, and arts and crafts supplies to educators nationwide. What a perfect fit for this unique audience!
Hats off to Director John Bucy (right of me in picture below) for creating TCSAAL, and for stepping up this year himself to run for the Texas state legislature as a charter school champion! His Democratic charter school voice would be a huge addition to the legislature. And a big thanks to TCSAAL conference organizer Zack Dooley (left of me in picture below) who was kind enough to invite me to speak.
Finally, my thanks to Michael Barba of the Texas Public Policy Foundation who assisted me in my presentation with the local Texas charter school public policy perspective. Although Texas now has the second largest number of charter schools in the nation, its law needs continued improvement to provide the autonomy necessary for all Texas charter schools to flourish.
Here’s wishing all coaches of TCSAAL a winning year!