Partners in Education shows how business makes difference in schools
Austin Independent School District serves 83,591 students and operates 130 schools. To properly educate and ensure that students are career- and college-ready, it takes the dedicated efforts of more than 6,000 teachers, 12,000 staff, as well as support from families and our local community. But that’s still not enough.
With a changing economy, shortfalls in funding, and increased competitiveness of college admissions across Texas and America, more help is needed, especially for disadvantaged students. This is where the business community can and should make a difference.
A shining example of this can be found in Austin Partners in Education. In 2004, the Austin Chamber of Commerce and Austin ISD formed this organization to improve student college and career readiness, as well as expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities through community engagement. Over the last 13 years, the effort has played a crucial role in Austin’s schools and communities.
Since its creation, Austin Partners in Education has been laser-focused on under-resourced communities and predominantly economically disadvantaged students. Partners in Education offers both direct student support and campuswide support within Austin ISD to these student populations.
By offering classroom coaching, mentoring, career conversations and college readiness, Partners in Education influenced the academic success of over 1,000 students during the 2016-17 academic calendar. Many folks in the community may not be aware that this is due in large part to the more than 30,000 volunteer hours, valued at $785,000, from engaged community members who donate their time for the betterment of our students.
Throughout its history, Partners in Education has also worked to keep schools safe by conducting 35,000 criminal background checks on their volunteers, increasing the college readiness of 1,900 students, training and serving over 14,000 classroom coaches and mentors, and tutoring or mentoring more than 28,000 students. What does all this mean? For students like Sadira Alvarado, it means confidence to go on to college. During her time as a student at Stephen F. Austin High School, Alvarado often doubted if she would even make it to college. Partners in Education changed all that. When Alvarado joined the organization, she became more confident in her ability to find scholarships and financial assistance that would make college more affordable.
It also means more students like Alvarado get the extra attention they need to be successful students and become ready for college. Without Austin Partners in Education, these students would likely have fallen through the cracks resulting in long-term setbacks during their academic careers.
Through different programs, including tutoring, assistance with scholarship essays, and general counseling from her Partners in Education advocate, Alvarado enrolled in Texas State University. She believes strongly in Partners in Education and credits the organization with helping her achieve her academic goals. She believes that students who are unsure about attending college immediately after high school should sign up to work with Partners in Education.
Over the next three years, Austin Partners in Education will broaden its scope by focusing on several key goals including building programs focused on STEM, as well as college and career readiness. Investments from the Austin Chamber, Austin ISD, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Intel, KDK-Harman Foundation and dozens of other generous benefactors across our city will help Partners in Education meet its goals and help our students achieve success.
Alvarado is just one of hundreds of students that have been positively affected by the work Partners in Education does in Austin. In this fastpaced media world, these stories can easily be overlooked, though they need to be told to encourage even more educational support for our communities.
Re: March 3 article, “Pareddown school choice bill filed by House Republican.”
The Republicans’ stealth agenda is to constantly demonize teachers and blame administrators for performance “failures” that are the direct result of relentless defunding. They starve the dog and then punish it for its poor health.
Republicans’ intent is to gradually squeeze out low-income voucher participants by reducing allotments after they lure them into applying for vouchers in the first place. Then in the subsequent years, they segregate the low-income, minority and special-needs kids into reduced funding pools. The kids from higher-income, mostly white families will gravitate toward charter, private, religious or corporate-owned schools. These schools are propped up by more generous voucher dollars, have wonderful resources and virtually no accountability standards.
Meanwhile, kids in public schools have to struggle
Re: March 15 article, “Planned Parenthood subs faltering in Texas trial run.” Dear Republicans: Women are not rats. Stop experimenting with women’s health care. You have withdrawn the right of Planned Parenthood to serve many poor women — and the maternal death rate has doubled. The increased deaths are primarily among poor women, whom you targeted. We can assume that uterine-cervical and breast cancer deaths also are increasing. And among the poor, infant deaths are inexcusably high.
Though men largely control access to sex education and contraception, women are not to discuss catastrophic pregnancies and health care professionals are to ignore professional ethics.
Lawmakers — think again. You are killing women and infants due to some constituents’ perverted “beliefs.”
Re: March 14 article, “CBO: 24M would lose health insurance.”
The headline shows that fact-checking is a lost art and the “Austin American-Democrat” is in the running for the worst newspaper in America. The Congressional Budget Office has been wrong every time on all its estimates. But since this was from the Washington Post, purveyor of halftruths, you thought it deserved front-page coverage to fire up all the crybabies who still cannot come to grips with the outcome of the election.
The last time I checked, America was a democracy. We can’t change the election results — but we can rally as Americans and give the president a chance to keep his promises and see where it goes.
Steve Wilson, curator of film at UT’s Harry Ransom Center, stands in a 2014 exhibition about “Gone With the Wind,” featuring the green curtain dress worn by Vivien Leigh.