(Community Matters) It’s painful to hear that AISD leadership so badly failed the important step of community process, with at least many East Austin residents. Nevertheless, I do not condemn Superintendent Carstarphen. Meria has been here just two years and has had to deal with the thorniest political issues in our lifetimes, many which we’ve been putting off for 20+ years.
As a former volunteer and Johnston High School (now Eastside Memorial) Foundation board member, I know the school’s history. It is rightfully a proud campus, once the pride of the Eastside. However, it isn’t only AISD which has failed Johnston High School, it’s the entire City of Austin and East Austin residents, including long time East Austin political leaders.
I find it disingenuous that many today condemn the idea of placing Eastside Memorial’s remediation in the hands of a charter school when just a few months ago many were urging AISD to turn over the campus to Southwest Keys.
IDEA Charter School comes highly recommended by several education professionals I know and trust. As a member of the KDK-Harman Foundation board of directors, I’m involved in funding improvements & advocacy for quality education in Central Texas. While we as a foundation or board didn’t take a position in this political battle, my experience and confidence in a network of professionals requires I thank Superintendent Carstarphen and the AISD board members for engaging IDEA to turn around Eastside schools, even if they failed on the public process. The latter is most regrettable, though admittedly I’m more interested in outcomes. Seems in Austin we engage in community process sometimes at the expense of successful outcomes.
And, I applaud all those who stood in line, signed up to speak, wrote letters and marched. I hope this signals a level of community engagement around East Austin schools which was sorely lacking for so many years – and the absence of which is at least partly responsible for today’s state of affairs. And, let’s not forget that some of those who marched and who spoke up, led us out of the dark days of segregation, when separate was equal only through squinted eyes and the suspension of reality.