We recently had the pleasure of hosting an education legislative briefing with the Texas House Border Caucus Chairman Cesar Blanco and Representative Bobby Guerra at an IDEA campus in McAllen. Additionally, Representative Eddie Lucio, III participated along with staff representing the Texas Senate and House Delegation and Congressional offices.
There was thoughtful dialogue between charter school operators and school district representatives on our first panel highlighting their partnerships. Panelists included Tom Torkelson of IDEA Public Schools; Dr. Daniel King of Pharr San Juan-Alamo ISD; Yasmin Bhatia of Uplift Education; Traci Davis of Grand Prairie ISD; Elliott Witney of Spring Branch ISD; and Mike Feinberg of KIPP Houston. Each partnership featured a different aspect of their work: addressing the challenge of recruiting high-quality teachers, teacher and staff professional development, access to school district resources and extracurricular activities, and access to high-performing, college preparatory charter school programs. The panel successfully discussed how collaboration between traditional public schools and charter schools can achieve great outcomes for students.
The second panel, with Sarah Orman of the Texas Association of School Boards and George McShan of Harlingen ISD, focused on the new Districts of Innovation law. The panelists discussed how this new law allows school districts to operate with the same flexibility as charter schools, as well as the process by which a school district becomes a District of Innovation. We are thrilled schools districts now have the same opportunities charter schools have in regards to innovation and customizing educational programs to meet the needs of their students and communities. TCSA offers our support by serving as a resource to these districts.
Jessica Morffi, of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, traveled from Washington, D.C. to McAllen and shared with the group the new requirements from the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. This was a thorough overview of the new policies that take effect beginning July 1st and its impact to schools.
I believe that it is important to collaborate and engage with each other because we are all in the education space. We are all in this for the same reason and that is to improve education outcomes for students. We must learn from each other, build on each other’s successes, and help drive student improvement, which is ultimately why we’re in education.