Too many children on wait lists for charter schools

Posted on September 10, 2018

It was my dad and the women in my life — my mother and grandmothers — who taught me my first real lesson: Education is the one thing no one can ever take from you.

That lesson stuck with me as a young woman making my way through public schools in San Antonio: at Crestview Elementary, Kitty Hawk Middle School, and then Judson High School.

Each semester, A’s made their way onto my refrigerator. I worked day and night to make my family proud, overachieving in every way possible.

After graduating from Judson, I took my diploma and broke a family tradition by enrolling at the University of Texas at Austin. I later went on to Harvard for my master’s. There were many adversities I faced along the way, but I benefited tremendously from those educational experiences by developing the grit to persevere.

As an African-American woman and a first-generation college graduate, I found success. My concern is for those who might not.

Our education system has to change so that more kids find the success I did.

In Bexar County, 25 percent of our students fail to graduate from high school. San Antonio’s students trail significantly behind their peers across the state for college readiness in reading and math. Less than 1 in 5 African-American students from our region will go on to complete a post-secondary degree.

We need to acknowledge these problems and work together to make things better. Fortunately, there are countless individuals and organizations hard at work to put students and families at the forefront of the conversation.

My organization launched “Keep learning, San Antonio” — a critical push to move our city into the future. We’re connecting volunteers to help countless local families explore their school options, and we’ve given free school supplies to make sure kids start off the school year right.

The message is clear — every kid, no matter his or her zip code deserves the chance to succeed. But if we want San Antonio to move forward and set our city up for prosperity down the road, we must do more now.

We must empower families with more school options so they can make choices that are right for their children.

We must grant teachers the flexibility and the tools they need to mold our children into the leaders of tomorrow.

We must innovate — and always put kids at the center of everything we do.

We need to support districts that take the courageous step to form partnerships with charter schools, where more than 40,000 San Antonio families applied in the last year alone.

Most important, we must never be afraid to reimagine and improve upon the antiquated systems that have failed to grow and innovate in an ever changing world.

Now, as a parent with one daughter in preschool and a second baby girl on the way, I’m already searching for great public schools that will help my girls achieve their dreams.

I’m thankful Northside Independent School District has great in-district choices, and San Antonio ISD welcomes students from outside their boundaries. But as I consider all of my options, I want to see more options for all families, not just my little girls.

Which schools will prepare my daughters for college? Will their schools have the academic rigor to prepare them for the future? Will my girls have opportunities to lead, to create, to collaborate and to build their self-confidence?

Education changed my trajectory in life, along with guidance from my dad and the women in my family. Children’s lives tomorrow depend on our ability to give them great school options today.

Let there be no doubt, as students begin their school year, that there are great school choices out there, but with 141,000 Texas students stuck on waiting lists, we need more.

Our city needs to keep moving forward in a way that truly empowers families.

 

Quincy Boyd is the San Antonio Regional Director for Families Empowered.