From Friend to Foe: Austin 1, IDEA 0

Unbeknownst to some, current “reform” efforts are interconnected. One example is Teach for America and IDEA charter schools (KIPP is another corporate charter management organization started by former TFAers). IDEA was founded in 2000 by Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama, TFA corps members. How about a little nepotism for TFAers at IDEA? TFA also gave out awards to IDEA’s TFAers.

IDEA is often in the media and framed as a shining beacon of charter schools. I have discussed TFA here on Cloaking Inequity. Notably, the “reformers” in the Obama administration recent gave $29 million to IDEA via Race to the Top as a “district”. Thus, because of so many requests via email and their growing prominence, I am just now turning my attention to IDEA. So let it begin.

Teach For America states,

Teach For America is not alone in trying to change the… educational landscape and expectations for achievement. Recent years have seen the birth and dramatic growth of IDEA Public Schools, a public charter system that strives to send 100% of their graduates to college…

While IDEA College Prep came in 18th in my analysis of majority Latina/o schools in college readiness based on standardized Texas tests, college success has been elusive (on average) for IDEA graduates— see Ed Fuller’s analysis here. Sometimes independent data gets in the way of “reformers” spin.

And, finally, closer to home… when the community in Austin elected board members that rose up and told IDEA that they were a bad IDEA, they decided they would go from friends to competition with the district.

So far, Austin 1, IDEA 0.

Edit 12/20/12: Who do you think gets paid more? Texas Governor Rick Perry or Tom Torkelson, the CEO of IDEA charter schools?

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Categories: Charter Schools, Teach For America

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

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7 Comments on “From Friend to Foe: Austin 1, IDEA 0”

  1. René Espinoza Kissell
    December 23, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    This is great news! I thought it was interesting that trustees voted unanimously Monday night to approve a full-scale charter partnership for Travis Heights Elementary. What are your thoughts on that?

  2. Emily
    March 3, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    As a parent who lives in a neighborhood where the schools are terrible, what am I to do? There are not many alternatives. Ideally what would you like to see happen in Austin’s schools?


  1. Corporate Reform Vs. Equity, Per Julian Vasquez Heilig « Diane Ravitch's blog - December 30, 2012

    […] latest piece reveals the interconnections among the reformers associated with the IDEA charter chain, Teach for America, […]

  2. Pawns of Industrialists and Financiers: Anti-Democracy Movement Gripping Education? | Cloaking Inequity - June 10, 2013

    […] Direct democracy works. Austin is a good example of what happens to a school board members when they sign a secretive and sweetheart deal with a charter management organization despite extensive community opposition. They are held accountable by the public and they are voted out. See From Friend to Foe: Austin 1, IDEA 0 […]

  3. Charter Op-Ed Misrepresents (Big Tree): My Response That They Won’t Print (Small Axe) | Cloaking Inequity - March 5, 2014

    […] From Friend to Foe: Austin 1, IDEA 0 and Austin American Statesman’s IDEA fact check […]

  4. Photo Essay: This Charter School is Lovely | Cloaking Inequity - March 19, 2014

    […] are some “reformers” in Austin that have criticized the Austin Independent School District for ending a partnership with the corporate charter chain IDEA. It turns out that Austinites are not opposed to charters, they just believe that charters should […]

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