Will District Support Neighborhood Schools?

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 16, 2011

Dear Editor,
    An Austin ISD brochure states, "AISD Teacher of the Year serves as an advisor to the superintendent during the next academic year." I guess they weren't talking about me. That brochure was published a year before I was named AISD Teacher of the Year.
    Though I am a teacher in East Austin, the district Teacher of the Year, and a resident of East Austin, I was never invited to have a conversation with anyone in the superintendent's office regarding the in-district charter school plan for the Eastside Memorial High School and all the schools that feed into it [“Not Everyone Keen on Charter IDEA,” News, Nov. 11].
    Carstarphen's proposed plan would allow charter school program IDEA from the Rio Grande Valley to come into East Austin and set up a school within the district. The IDEA program reports high levels of graduation and college completion. Sounds great, right?
    Well, only 100 students per grade level would be served. I can assure you there are more than 100 kids in each grade level on the Eastside who would like to go to college, who would like a high quality education, and who deserve it.
    Students would enter the IDEA school through a lottery. How can teachers and parents support a plan that will not benefit all students?
    Every East Austin teacher wants something better for her students. All of us want our kids to have the opportunity to go to college, not just the lucky 100. A teacher doesn't advocate for a chosen few. East Austin teachers advocate for all students.
    There will be students who never apply to enter into the IDEA school. Some will apply but won't get picked. Some might spend just a year or two in East Austin, perhaps not really knowing about IDEA, before moving away to a different part of town. Who will educate these children? Who will push them toward college? Who will make sure that learning is meaningful despite unstable test scores and district pressure?
    I will. The teachers on the Eastside will. With this proposed plan, the future of the neighborhood schools is uncertain. We don't know if the district will support us. We don't know if funds and resources will be diverted away from neighborhood schools and into the IDEA school.
    We want something better for our kids, but we don't want the consequences this plan will bring for a large group of kids and the neighborhood schools.
Caroline Sweet
AISD Teacher of the Year
Fourth grade bilingual teacher at Metz Elementary
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