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Ann Richards School Deserves Better

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 4, 2013

Dear Editor:
    The Chronicle’s article on the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is deeply concerning for the gross inaccuracies and incomplete portrayal of the school [“In the Name of Ann Richards,” News, Aug. 30]. As members of the executive committee of the Parent Teacher Student Association, we are writing to convey our full support for the school and its mission and our complete endorsement of and appreciation for the administration and the teaching staff.
    The Chronicle’s reckless misrepresentation of the school does a disservice to the ARS community, to the AISD, and to the citizens of Austin who have worked collaboratively to integrate a proven learning community into the needs and goals of the district. That the school has registered such success in fulfilling its mission after only seven years in existence is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the students, teachers, staff, parents, community supporters, and to the vision and leadership of the district. We urge all Chronicle readers to seek the truth about ARS by visiting www.annrichardsschool.org.
    It is telling that the reporter for the Chronicle did not contact a single member of the PTSA Executive Committee – a logical starting point to reach parents – for comment or corroboration of the allegations made. If he had, any one of us would have been delighted, as parents of current and former ARS middle school and high school students, to provide our insights, answer questions, clarify inaccuracies or reach out to other parents to share their views. We have history with the school, direct insight into the school, work closely with the staff and administration, and have dealt firsthand with the issues (transfers, mobility, homework, school culture, etc.) that were distorted or not fully explored in the article.
    Your readers, the ARS community, and especially ARS students deserved better.
Suzy Searcy, Charles Foreman, Sarah Jeansonne, Shawn Mauser, Lori McClure, Melissa Saucedo
ARS PTSA Executive Committee members
   [Richard Whittaker responds: I am extremely disappointed that Jeanne Goka describes the article as incomplete when AISD refused to let me talk directly to her. I initially requested interviews with her, Associate Superintendent of High Schools Edmund Oropez, and Chief Schools Officer Paul Cruz. I was promised interviews with both her and Cruz, which never materialized. I finally made an offer to the AISD Department of Communications and Community Relations that we would submit questions via email directly to her and Cruz. What we got back, after days of delay, was a mish-mash of answers via AISD Executive Director Alex Sanchez, with no real ability to clarify any points or follow up. I was told explicitly by Sanchez that I would not get direct answers from either Goka or Cruz. In fact, the district seemed far more interested in having me talk to the Ann Richards Foundation – an independent and unaccountable body – than to their own publicly employed and publicly accountable staff. I would be more than happy to talk to Ms. Goka and get her side of the story directly, and tried to do so on multiple occasions. Yet again, if she wants to talk, she can contact me via the Chronicle. I also encourage her and the PTSA – and our readers – to visit the forums on our website about this story. There are a lot of people who support what we published in that story, many with personal experience of the campus.]
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