Hanging TEA Fire at Eastside High

After the IDEA deal cancellation, AISD has until this summer to come up with a new plan for Eastside Memorial

Hanging TEA Fire at Eastside High
Photo by John Anderson

After years of feeling alienated by AISD, Eastside Mem­orial High School community members are praising the administration for seeking genuine input about the future of their school. But Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams has set a clock ticking that puts pressure on that process.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, educators and stakeholders met at Eastside Memorial to discuss options for the campus, now that trustees have reversed their plan to turn the entire vertical team into an in-district charter under IDEA Public Schools. Both PRIDE of the Eastside spokesman Vinc­ent Tovar and Education Austin Pres­ident Ken Zarifis praised AISD for the roundtable event: That's a big step forward, since both have regularly criticized the district for a top-down approach to community outreach. How­ever, their enthusiasm may be muted by Williams' statements that, since the AISD board voted to cancel the IDEA contract, he expects them to deliver a replacement plan for Eastside before the end of the 2012-13 academic year in June.

The state's reconstitution plan for the embattled campus gives the Texas Education Agency the authority to close or take over the campus if state administrators are dissatisfied with the district's plans. Community members and educators came away from their meeting with one point of consensus: that they need more time to develop and endorse an effective and successful proposal. Any imposed plan could result in the same kind of backlash the district saw when they first signed up IDEA, and they have asked AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen to relay this to the commissioner. However, at the Feb. 11 board meeting, members said they were concerned about asking for a formal written statement from Williams, since that could limit their options.

Even though he has no background in public school policy, former Railroad Commissioner Williams has been aggressive in implementing TEA policy. Since his appointment by Gov. Rick Perry in August 2012, he has already instructed that the failing North Forest ISD be annexed by Houston ISD, and he replaced the elected El Paso ISD trustees with an appointed board in the wake of a testing scandal. On Feb. 10, Williams told KXAN that it was premature to gauge what the district will present for Eastside, but that he would expect something that would perform at least as well as IDEA. However, since the Legislature is reviewing the entire school accountability system – and there have been no state ratings for Eastside since it was reintegrated in 2011 – Eastside's supporters hope Williams will give them the time to create a community-developed project.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Eastside Memorial High School
Eastside Memorial Celebrates
Eastside Memorial Celebrates
High school meets state standards, first time since 2002

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 21, 2015

'Fighting For, Not Against' Eastside
'Fighting For, Not Against' Eastside
Now the turnaround work begins on troubled campus

Richard Whittaker, June 14, 2013

More by Richard Whittaker
That's One Pricey Burrito: Chuy's Sells for $605 Million
That's One Pricey Burrito: Chuy's Sells for $605 Million
Austin original acquired by Darden Restaurants, Inc.

July 18, 2024

Pale imitation of what made the original such an unexpected smash of a disaster movie

July 19, 2024


Eastside Memorial High School, Texas Education Agency, Michael Williams, IDEA Public Schools, Eastside, Austin Independent School District, Austin ISD, Meria Carstarphen

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle