Join STS Twitter at @savetxschoools and post your blog using #WhyIRally about why YOU are coming to the rally on April 18!

Here’s a post from Philip Tryon:

I’m Philip Tryon from Save Texas Schools and this is #WhyIRally.  On Saturday, April 18th, Save Texas Schools will rally thousands of motivated Texans who are concerned about our state’s public education.  There is already a large amount of discussion regarding the underfunding of our public education and the need to reform our testing and accountability structure.  But there is not a complete understanding of the Texas children currently living with the external effects of poverty.  That is why Save Texas Schools has been pushing the Texas Community Schools model this legislative session.

Living with the effects of poverty is not an excuse.  Students in poverty can learn just as well as those in affluent areas; however, there is a legitimate discussion to be had about the numerous impediments that poverty creates for students and education.  Removing these barriers to education, tackling their root causes and providing an opportunity to every Texan to an excellent education is the real benefit to the Texas Community Schools model.

Texas now has 60% of its student population living in poverty.[1]  With poverty comes many inherent barriers to one’s education, such as homelessness, hunger, lack of physical and mental health care, higher incarceration rates of parents, etc. If we are to provide fair educational opportunities to every Texan then we must address the issues associated with poverty in a comprehensive manner.  The Community School model for a public school does just that.  This “all hands on deck” approach brings together all stakeholders of the campus, such as parents, teachers, school administrators, school board members, pastors, community members and businesses to creatively develop a strategy unique to that campus and the needs of the students.

Another benefit of the Community School model is that it creates an infrastructure for a school to effectively partner with local businesses.  These partnerships can be as diverse and extensive as the local community and business wishes.  A business can partner with a school to develop specific workforce development programs that would be direct correlation to working in that same industry.  This partnership not only provides more opportunities for youth who will be in need of employment after school but also provides the business with an experienced workforce.

The effectiveness of the model can be plainly seen in the examples within Austin of Webb Middle School and Reagan High School.  In 2007, both schools were on the verge of closure; however, after the community school model was implemented, the schools experienced drastic improvements.  The graduation rate even increased from 48% to 85%, they went from the lowest performing Title I schools in Austin to the highest performing, and Reagan became an Early College High School where students can now graduate with 60 college credits!

It’s time to stand up for our schools once again.  That is why on April 18th from 10-12, Save Texas Schools will rally at the southern steps of the Capitol! Let’s tell our Legislators to fully, adequately and equitably fund our schools, adjust the testing and accountability structure and that we need Texas Community Schools!

[1] http://www.southerneducation.org/Our-Strategies/Research-and-Publications/New-Majority-Diverse-Majority-Report-Series/A-New-Majority-2015-Update-Low-Income-Students-Now

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