As parents and community members in San Antonio, we need to talk about what we want our public education system to be. Perhaps you have seen ads on TV or online for the Keep Learning, San Antonio campaign and are wondering what it is about. There are so many changes happening in education these days, and this campaign is about embracing the change and getting ready for the future. It’s time to put kids first and lift the restraints of bureaucracy. We can all get involved to make that happen.
The Keep Learning, San Antonio campaign has a video in English.
There is also a video in Spanish.
The videos have images of young children discovering nature, elementary school students entering a building, bigger kids in a robotics class, middle school students in a science lab, and high school graduates taking selfies in caps and gowns.
The video talks about change. We all can see that the public school system in San Antonio is changing, with the growth of public charter schools over the past few years, more in-district choice schools, and district-charter partnerships. We have the opportunity to embrace the positive aspects of that change and reap the rewards in the future.
The vision of change in the campaign involves putting trust in great teachers. If they have the flexibility to cut red tape, then we can put students ahead of bureaucracy.
Our best hope for giving all students a great education is more innovative public schools, including charter schools. The public education system must teach students what they need to know for a changing world. They need to be prepared for college and have the creativity to adapt to the 21st century economy.
To read more about the case for putting kids first, download the report: Keep Learning, San Antonio: The Case to Do More. In the report, Quincy Boyd, Regional Director for Families Empowered in San Antonio, said, “Parents have more options and more choices than ever before. New schools are being created. Innovative school models, like district-charter partnerships, are emerging. Yet, as a community of people who believe deeply in the potential of each child, we must recognize that our work is not done.”
The Families Empowered report includes an important number: 39,214. That’s the number of students who submitted applications to Great Hearts Texas, KIPP Texas, and IDEA Public Schools campuses in San Antonio for the 2017–18 school year. Those three charter school networks represent 32 campuses, but as you can see from the guide, there are many more charter schools and in-district choice programs in San Antonio. The supply of high quality schools still can’t keep up with the demand from parents and students. Learn more about the waiting list data from the San Antonio Express-News and FOX San Antonio.
The large number of applications to these charter school networks shows that parents want to have a say in where their kids go to school. This sends a message to school leaders that they need to keep innovating and providing more school programs that parents want.
Parents are choosing schools like IDEA Public Schools and KIPP Texas because they have a track record of getting students—especially ones from low-income backgrounds—into college and helping them graduate at higher rates than their peers. In an op-ed in the San Antonio Express News, IDEA Judson College Prep Principal Joaquin Hernandez shared his experience as a college student: “It didn’t take long for me to realize that my high school diploma hadn’t prepared me at all for college. After freshman year, I was failing all my classes. I’d never been taught some of the most basic skills such as note-taking, studying for exams or writing a term paper.” As a school leader at IDEA, Hernandez resolved to make sure his students are all prepared to succeed in college.
At KIPP Texas, a program to help KIPP graduates succeed in college is expanding to San Antonio ISD through a district-charter partnership, as described by Richard Whitmire in USA Today. Teamwork between KIPP Texas, a charter school network, and San Antonio ISD, a traditional public school district, is an example of putting the needs of students ahead of red tape and bureaucracy.
Families Empowered recently held two events to support the Keep Learning, San Antonio effort: a call center to reach families, and a back to school event.
At the call center, volunteers—including charter school parents—contacted waitlisted families to inform them about resources for finding school options. As shared in the report, Families Empowered surveyed San Antonio parents and found that less than half are satisfied by their child’s current school. Young volunteers helped prepare for the next event, a back-t0-school party.
At the Back to School Bash, families picked up backpack and school supply giveaways, played games, enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs, and danced to music from a DJ.
The event was held under the BHP Pavilion at Confluence Park, a project of the San Antonio River Foundation.
Organizations like MOVE Texas and TX Charter Revolution helped parents get registered to vote and signed up for text and email alerts about opportunities for activism. Also, TX Charter Revolution allowed me to take over their Facebook page for a brief live video.
Schools like Compass Rose Academy, Promesa Academy Charter School, and the Gathering Place shared information with parents.
How do we continue the momentum from the Keep Learning, San Antonio campaign? It’s important to keep the conversation going and to remember some key points:
- We need schools that put kids first and let go of the constraints of bureaucracy.
- We deserve a school system that gives all students a fair chance to succeed, no matter what part of town they live in.
- Students need an education that prepares them for college and the creative, dynamic jobs of the 21st century.
- Great teachers need the flexibility to be creative in the classroom and give all students the personal attention they need.
- As a parent-activist, this one is really important to me: We need parents who are involved in their school communities and are committed to getting their children a great education.
Let’s put kids first and cut the red tape. And Keep Learning, San Antonio!
- “Service organization celebrates the end of summer with free school supplies at Confluence Park,” Families Empowered news release, August 20, 2018
- “Every student deserves to be college ready,” Joaquin Hernandez, San Antonio Express-News, August 19, 2018
- “Keep Learning, San Antonio event connects volunteers, parents,” Families Empowered news release, August 16, 2018
- “Charter schools want to share how they are helping more low-income students finish college,” Richard Whitmire, USA Today, August 13, 2018
- “As demand rises, charters open new schools in San Antonio,” Lauren Caruba, San Antonio Express-News, July 31, 2018
- “Report: Charter school demand skyrockets in San Antonio,” Zach Hedrick, Fox San Antonio, July 20, 2018 (also News 4 San Antonio)
- “Keep Learning, San Antonio,” Families Empowered news release, July 19, 2018