This post is brought to Alamo City Moms Blog by our partner, IDEA Public Schools.
National School Choice Week, January 24–30, 2016, is a celebration of the idea that there are many education options available, including private schools, charter schools, virtual schools, homeschooling, and traditional public schools, and that families know best what will work for their children.
On Monday, January 25, IDEA Public Schools hosted a School Choice Week event at its IDEA Walzem campus on the East Side. District 2 City Councilman Alan E. Warrick, II read a proclamation from Mayor Ivy R. Taylor declaring this to be School Choice Week in San Antonio.
IDEA Public Schools is a network of charter schools that is adding new campuses to serve more students across San Antonio. IDEA Public Schools has a remarkable track record of 100 percent college acceptance for nine years, with all but a few students entering college in the fall semester after their high school graduation. At the School Choice Week proclamation event, several IDEA Public Schools leaders spoke about the importance of school choice in their lives.
Rolando Posada is the executive director of IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio. He grew up in a low-income area of Houston, and while in high school, not a single adult ever spoke to him about his college plans. He was sought out as a baseball player, but once he got to college, he found he didn’t have the academic preparation. He had gotten the message that he was just not college material. Walking home from school in a dangerous neighborhood, he sometimes had to throw himself under cars to avoid gunfire from rival gangs; it seemed like his background was his destiny. Fortunately, with family support, Posada was able to get back on track and become a teacher and a school leader.
Posada’s cousin, who lived in the Rio Grande Valley, was struggling in high school. One day, her principal sat her down and told her, “You miss school a lot, you’re failing several courses, you have a horrible attitude…why don’t you just quit?” And she did. She regrets it, but now, 20 years later, her son is attending an IDEA school and has already been accepted to three colleges.
Evan Yates, the principal of IDEA Walzem Academy (currently grades K–3), grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. When it was time for him to attend middle school, his family decided that their neighborhood schools were not safe or effective, so the family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a major culture shift, as he found himself as one of only a few African-American students, but the school had more resources, more technology, higher quality teachers, and no fights in the back of the classroom. A lesson he learned from his experience was that “students shouldn’t have to move to attend a good school.”
Yates spoke about one of his students, Cord, who cried at breakfast and continually on the first day of school. Yates asked him why he was at IDEA; Cord said that his grandpa had signed him up. “Thank goodness for grandpas like Cord’s,” Yates said. Through basketball games and meals with students, Yates feels that he has reached Cord and his most reluctant students. “I want to be the light that others were for me,” said Yates. When speaking about Cord, Yates showed strong feelings, and had to pause and find his voice again.
Councilman Warrick said that he has an unusual background for a black man in America: all of his ancestors, going back to his great-grandparents, had college degrees. His mom is a university administrator, so it was never in doubt that he would go to college. Warrick thanked IDEA Public Schools for providing a college preparatory education for students living in his district. “It’s not about charter or public, it’s about the children,” he said. Warrick read the mayor’s proclamation, which gives the city’s official recognition that school choice is important for San Antonio families.
Dr. Khalil Graham, principal of IDEA Walzem College Prep (currently grades 6–7), thanked Councilman Warrick for the proclamation and welcomed a group of young students to lead a chant about the success strategies they are learning at IDEA Public Schools.
School choice allows families to choose for themselves the type of school that will be the best fit for their children. They can choose schools that will help them achieve their goal of seeing their kids graduate from college. School Choice Week is a welcome opportunity to share this message with families across San Antonio and the nation.