AISD board says ‘so-long’ to contentious IDEA charter system
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The Austin Independent School District has canceled the contract with the IDEA Charter School system. The board called it the most contentious issue they've seen in recent years.
Dozens of parents, teachers and faculty turned out to speak at Monday night’s meeting on the decision. Many had spent the night outside the district offices for the opportunity to voice their opinions.
The school board considered many options from allowing IDEA to add more grades and expand to other schools, to canceling the charter school's contract all together.
"IDEA is a bad idea. The East Austin community expects the board to cancel the contract,” community member Monica Guzman said. “The board must partner with the students and families, partner with the teachers, partner with the community."
One of the options under consideration would have allowed IDEA to expand into Eastside Memorial High School. In the end, the board voted 5-to-4 to cancel IDEA's contract.
"At the end of the day, we just want to teach our kids how to read. We just want to teach them math and science and humanities,” Larkin Tackett with IDEA Austin said. “We made a promise to their parents, we're going to see them to and through college and we just want to have an opportunity to keep that promise."
The school district will now have to make plans for what it will do with the 500 students who currently attend IDEA Allan Elementary. Students in that school would go to Eastside Memorial.
While the relationship between IDEA and AISD may have come to a close, the board also approved a plan to turn Travis Heights Elementary School in South Austin into an in-district charter.
Parents championed the idea because they want more control over their children's education. They rallied support from more than 80 percent of the school's parents. They say they disagree with the district's method of standardizing teaching across the city. Supporters at the meeting called it a victory.
"The first in the district, the first truly engaged parents, teachers and community members in a productive positive experience in what reform can actually be like," Ken Zarifis with Education Austin said.
The change would keep teachers and state funding in place, but give parents and teachers more control over curriculum.