On Thursday, October 18th, about 60 teachers, administrators, parents, government officials, and youth gathered at Reagan High School in Austin, TX for a series of three forums on “Too Many Children Left Behind: Closing the Achievement Gap in Central Texas.” The diverse group is gathering on behalf of a diverse Austin Independent School District. Other area districts are involved in the same types of forums, which are sponsored by many groups including Texas Forums, E3 Alliance, Austin Voices for Education and Youth, the United Way, Univision, and KEYE TV42.
The welcome spelled out the reason for being there. It was said that “Despite advances, we know that it is not enough–it’s unnacceptable. You see great stories in some schools, but not districts. It’s a regional problem. We need everyone’s thinking in the region on this issue. We’ve got to work smarter, work together. Tonight is the first of three sessions. Give us your best thinking with an AISD perspective.”
It was also said that “If we don’t solve this problem, it affects the market in this state–whether kids are college ready–in a globally competititve economy. The problem is not enough graduate and not enough go to college or get a post-secondary degree. This leads to less salary, less access to healthcare, and more of a chance of going to jail. The loss will be $40 billion in earnings by 2030 if gaps are not closed.”
Tonight’s dialogue and other related forums will culminate in a regional forums and a regional blueprint. Everyone’s experiences are the lens to look at possible options and opportunities. Next blog posts will include participants’ comments made during their small group sessions such as the youth who shared that “Some kids have an attitude. They’re wasting my time and the teacher’s time. I’m here to learn. Teachers have motivated me to do my best.”