As previously discussed on this blog, Great Hearts Academies has targeted San Antonio. This is the same Great Hearts that attempted to enter Nashville and was rebuffed by the community. Kevin Huffman, Tennessee’s Education Commissioner, then retaliated against Nashville by withholding $3.4 million in state funding. What ever happened to those who espoused local control? It’s a bad idea when local choice is exercised against its proponents?
What is Great Heart’s approach for San Antonio? From their application to the state of Texas, their geographic priorities in San Antonio seem innocuous.
Great Hearts America-Texas plans to open five to ten schools in the Greater San Antonio area. Similar to the portfolio of Great Hearts in Arizona, the Great Hearts America-Texas schools would serve a diverse demographic, with some [?] schools serving majority Free and Reduced Lunch qualifying students. Each new academy will be named Great Hearts America -“insert community name.”
“Some” could be 1 of 10, 2 of 10… Why so vague Great Hearts? Our answer lies in their business model implemented in Arizona (and rejected in Nashville). Discussed previously here. How many Free and Reduced Lunch students parents have $1,200 to $1,500 lying around as a “recommended” donation?
Anyways, where has Great Hearts Academies said they want to place their schools in the media?
Neither BASIS nor Great Hearts have decided on a San Antonio location. Bezanson said he has been eyeing the Monte Vista neighborhood, Olmos Park and Alamo Heights. “We know we want to put 10 schools in San Antonio — across the city — within the first five years,” Bezanson said.
Karen from Houston, one of Cloaking Inequity’s faithful readers commented in an email to me about Great Hearts’ geographic priorities:
There are three similar descriptions of the communities in which Great Hearts Academies want to establish a beachhead in San Antonio: wealthy, affluent, and highly affluent. The combined population of the three adjacent communities is about 13,000, served by Alamo Heights ISD (Alamo Heights, Olmos Park) and San Antonio ISD (Monte Vista) and several private schools:
ALAMO HEIGHTS: St Peter’s Prince of the Apostles Catholic School (K-8) and St Luke’s Episcopal (K-8)
MONTE VISTA: St Anthony Catholic School (K-8), St Anthony Catholic High School, Keystone School (K-12) and San Antonio Academy (k-12)
OLMOS PARK: Incarnate Word High School
Nearby San Antonio: St Mary’s Hall (K-12) and St Pius X (K-8)
The Anglo population of Alamo Heights and Olmos Park is approximately 94% and the media family income in Olmos Park is about $129,000 with median home price of over $400,000.
The Alamo Heights district with an enrollment of 4,744 is more diverse racially and economically than the enclaves targeted by Great Hearts with 59% Anglo and 35% Hispanic and 22% low SES in the ISD, but less diverse than other districts in Bexar County. It is considered a property-rich district and its “roof top” wealth (as well as Highland Park in Dallas) has made it complicated to devise school finance formulas.
A loss of students from the Alamo Heights ISD would result in an increase in property wealth per student and presumably less state aid under the Robin Hood school finance system.
San Antonio ISD is a property poor district and no SAISD schools are located in the Monte Vista historic neighborhood. The zoned elementary schools are rated recognized, but given the high percentage of low income and Hispanic students (about 90%) and the number of neighborhood private schools, I’d assume more private students might be attracted to Great Hearts, increasing the cost to the state as they had been paying private school tuition and Great Hearts will not provide transportation (except for special ed). [Also] the loss of students to San Antonio ISD would be costly to the district as the state picks up most of the tab for educating kids in poor districts.
Here is what an Arizona Blogger has to say about Great Hearts’ track record there.
Here is what Diana Ravitch has to say about Great Hearts’ opposition to school funding equity (?!?)
Annoyed by all of this? Here is your opportunity to intervene:
Another interesting note. Karen from Houston writes:
In the past charter applications were not released until AFTER (!) they were approved by the SBOE. [I] talk[ed] with Micheal Soto as he serves on the SBOE School Initiatives Committee, which deals with charters. Michael said he’s going to propose a rule change re access to charter applications next month (sadly, his last meeting).
Finally, a poll. Is it surprising to you that the charter movement has evolved to the point where corporate charter management organizations want to locate in affluent neighborhoods and charge pseudo-tuition?