Texas School Boosters Beat the Drums

DALLAS Friends of Texas Public Schools is preparing to roll out a statewide awareness campaign that will promote the positives of public education.

Scott Milder, vice president of SHW Group Architects, a national school design firm, co-founded the Dallas-based nonprofit organization with his wife Leslie, a government teacher at John Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas. The couple launched the www.fotps.org Web site earlier this month in an effort to restore confidence in Texas public schools.

“It’s unimaginable to me how society routinely attacks what should be our greatest friends—the people and places that educate our children,” Scott said. Leslie added, “Texans have a right to know the good news—that their children are in good hands in our public schools.”

On the site, people can review important data regarding Texas education, read about public school success stories and make donations to further FOTPS’ goal of stimulating parental and community involvement.

“Of course schools have pitfalls, but they are doing remarkably well to meet the challenges of rising standards, complex policy, public scrutiny and budget battles,” said FOTPS board member Charlie Fern, president of Charlie Fern Ink Communications in Austin, Texas. “We should spend as much energy pointing out what’s right about our schools as we do pointing out what’s wrong with them.”

The organization’s public awareness campaign will launch in January before the Texas legislature convenes in mid-month, Scott said. The initiative will run indefinitely and include a statewide outdoor advertising program, in addition to radio public service announcements. A public opinion poll will also be published on the group’s Web site.

While the board of directors created the initial campaign, Scott is currently looking for an agency that would like to donate its services for future work.

“We believe to institute any real change we must put out a consistent message for a minimum of three years,” Scott said. “We plan to keep this campaign in full swing even 10 years from now. We are here to stay.”

Current FOTPS sponsors are: SHW Group Architects, Southwest Airlines, Eddie Deen’s Ranch, Texas Tech University, PR Newswire, Texas School Business Magazine, WebXess, the Education Foundation of Harris County, Visualeyes, Charlie Fern Ink Communications, Fast Fix Jewelry Repair, Camelot Communications and Bank of America.