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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