On Thursday June 16, 2016, the Texas Charter Schools Association alongside KIPP Austin, IDEA Public Schools, Montessori for All, Austin Achieve, Harmony Schools in Austin, NYOS and Wayside Schools joined together at Austin City Hall to stand in solidarity and represent Austin public charter schools. More than 150 parents and charter school advocates rallied together to send a strong message to Austin City Council about the importance of their vote in the proposed land development ordinance, which would harm the growth of Austin’s public charter schools. Parent advocates filled the chambers of city hall to demand a compromise on the ordinance put before Austin City Council.
Parents from Austin Achieve, NYOS and KIPP testified one by one before the Austin City Council to make sure the already revised ordinance could be changed to reflect a more level playing field for all. KIPP parent Clarissa Talbert testified and shared why she chose to enroll her daughter, Lucia, in a public charter school. Ms. Talbert shared how fortunate she feels to have access to a free, public, high-performing, and dual-language school in her community and importance of making sure all parents in Austin have the same options. Passing the ordinance without any changes to the language pertaining to impervious coverage would limit where charter schools are able to serve students.
That same night, the vote was delayed and moved to June 23 in an attempt to equalize the outcome. Concerns about the language pertaining to impervious cover were raised by various city council members upon hearing testimony from charter school stakeholders and parents.
Charter school stakeholders were present at city hall on June 23 and in an attempt to level the playing field for public charter schools, Council Member Ellen Troxclair proposed an amendment to the original draft ordinance which was voted down by city council. Although the outcome of the vote did not favor parents and their needs, more than 300 parents from various Austin charter school campuses plan to stay engaged in advocacy efforts at both state and local level.