We are proud to share this letter written by Lieutenant Colonel Jason D. Mims, US Army, Retired, in reaction to the Texas State Board of Education’s decision not to grant a charter to S.H. James Preparatory Academy.
Anthony Gordon and, by extension, his distinguished board of directors of SH James Prep Academy roped me into a journey of discovery. They invited me to witness what happens when the Texas Commissioner of Education recommends charter school applicants for approval to the State Board of Education (SBOE). The SBOE has the option of taking no action on the recommendations or saying “No!” to the Commissioner’s recommendations.
I witnessed the SBOE reject the majority of the seven recommendations the Commissioner sent to it. Message to Jason: The SBOE has limited confidence in the Texas Commissioner of Education when it comes to his recommendations of making more school choices available to families and students in underserved communities. There are 15 elected officials on the SBOE, representing voters in communities/regions across the state. As a collective body, the SBOE is the final gatekeeper of opportunities for children to have additional charter school options as part of their local public education ecosystem. I noticed this time that most of the board members relished their power to say “No” and veto the Commissioner’s recommendations.
One could see clearly that the SBOE wanted to demonstrate that it has the power to veto the Commissioner’s recommendations. Before forwarding his recommendations to the board, the Commissioner and the Texas Education Agency had already analyzed the merits of each application. From an initial pool of 27 applications for charter schools this year, the Commissioner recommended seven to the SBOE for approval. The SBOE took no action on three of them and vetoed four.
What is equally clear to me is that local leaders do not control the public education options available to students on Eastside San Antonio. When the majority of the SBOE come from other communities and vote to veto the establishment of SH James Prep, “Houston, we have a problem!” Outsiders determine that children in my community must wait before they can access a public education that further develops their entrepreneurial gifts. Reminder to self: “The system is perfectly designed to produce the results we are seeing in underserved communities . . .”.
One of my primary goals this summer is to witness a number greater than zero of students in my community participate in Qubit x Qubit, a Quantum Computing Summer School led by MIT PhDs and PhD candidates for high school students across the nation. Fortunately, we do not need SBOE approval to bring this goal into reality. We can do this with the Kindness gifts around us!
In His Service,
Jason D. Mims
US Army, Retired
Mims Institute Fellows, Inc.
After we published his letter, Jason sent us this update.
Thank you, SA Charter Moms for this timely post. Just yesterday, the founder of SH James Prep and I met at Eastside Starbucks. We pondered the possibilities for identifying young people on the Eastside who might have the ability to grasp Quantum Computing concepts.
Our Monday fellowship followed last Friday’s event at Starbucks where Taylor Miner—number 3 in Sam Houston’s Class of 2021—shared with others on the Eastside concepts she is gaining through Quantum Summer School with IBM Quantum. The 80-hour, 4-week course is led by MIT PhDs. Some 250 young people from across the nation and globe are in the Zoom room.
There are unlimited opportunities to uncover the gifts within our youth. Many of those gifts fall beyond what some elected officials who like to say “No!” can see. That’s where the Power of Kindness prevails!
Read More About Charter Authorization
- “Texas Board of Education Rejects Four Out of Seven Charter School Applicants,” Isaiah Mitchell, Texan News, June 30, 2021
- “Access to Success: How Anthony Gordon Is Advancing the Conversation at S.H. James Prep,” San Antonio Charter Moms, June 1, 2021