“College for All Children” is the IDEA Public Schools motto. In May 2013, at College Signing Day, seniors from six IDEA high schools in the Rio Grande Valley signed letters and held up signs to announce their choice of college. “IDEA Public Schools Hosts College Signing Day”, My Harlingen News, May 27, 2013. For the seventh consecutive year, 100% of graduating seniors have plans to attend college in the fall. “IDEA Public Schools reach new graduation milestone”, James Aldridge, San Antonio Business Journal, May 28, 2013.
Those are the facts, but look at the photo gallery to see the excitement on the students’ faces and see their parents bursting with pride. College graduation rates in the Rio Grande Valley are rock bottom (only 12% earn a college degree within six years, according to Teach for America) but the IDEA students are ready to beat the odds. Also, keep in mind that IDEA Public Schools are tuition-free and open enrollment—no selection criteria, students are chosen by lottery—so the graduates represent a cross section of the population, not an elite group.
What’s the San Antonio connection? IDEA has two campuses in San Antonio, but no graduating seniors yet. IDEA Carver served grades K-6 in 2012-13 and will have its first graduating seniors in 2019. (Here’s an earlier post about my visit to IDEA Carver last year.) IDEA South Flores, opening in August 2013 (earlier post) with grades K, 1, 2 & 6, will have its first graduating seniors in 2020. San Antonio College Signing Day will start small, but can you imagine what it will be like when IDEA reaches its goal of 20 campuses here? Maybe they’ll need the Alamodome.
Here’s an earlier post about IDEA College Signing Day 2012 in the Rio Grande Valley.