As long time members of the Rio Grande Valley community and business sector, over the years, we have been touched by the stories of the land and the people, and we continue to look for ways to give back.
Students locally in our community of McAllen, throughout the RGV, and across the state deserve our engagement and our support. If we want our region and our state to have a prosperous future, we need to improve access to high-quality schools.
As businessmen in McAllen, we understand the impact that high-quality education options have across our communities and how a great education can provide opportunities for training, post-secondary education, college, and ultimately, a great job. This is why we have become lifelong supporters of IDEA Public Schools and have given significant amounts of time to IDEA as volunteer board members for more than a decade, collectively.
It amazes us year after year to see so many first-generation students on the college bound path with high expectations. Like Ariana Izaguirre, an IDEA San Benito alumna. Ariana grew up in a low-income household, where she felt like all odds were against her. At IDEA, she knew college was expected of her. She received a great education, support, and guidance on the road to and through college. She is now a Gates Millennium Scholar and attends Texas A&M University, where she is majoring in biology.
In the RGV, IDEA Public Schools currently educate more than 22,000 students at 34 schools. More than 2,100 IDEA alumni from the RGV are currently in, or have graduated from, 134 colleges and universities across the country. And don’t forget that 100 percent of IDEA students are college-bound.
Beyond the RGV, the charter school numbers across Texas tell the story. The parents of approximately 250,000 students have chosen to send their children to a public charter school. Currently, there are more than 140,000 children sitting on waiting lists including waiting lists in the RGV for an opportunity to participate in this innovative form of public education.
Talking about his educational experience growing up, Gerald Boyd, Principal at IDEA Mays College Preparatory in San Antonio, shared, “Our high school did not prepare us for the rigors of college. In fact, my high school, middle school, and elementary school were later shut down due to low performance.”
Unfortunately, not a lot has changed since Gerald was in school. This problem persists today, and students in our community are in need of access to a high-quality school. It goes without saying our state faces a crisis when it comes to the way it funds public schools. As House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty said, “the system is constitutional but awful.”
This problem has gone on for far too long. Together, we can begin to solve this problem, but our legislators are key to this effort. The Texas Legislature needs to address equal funding for public school students this year. I encourage our local representatives to do this in support of students across the RGV—from Cameron County to Hidalgo County, and beyond.
State Representative Eddie Lucio III has stepped up and made equal funding for students in public education a priority that is clearly overdue. He has taken an important step to improve public education in the Rio Grande Valley through his co-authorship of HB 2337.
Instead of pitting charter schools against traditional public schools, we can come together to ensure all student have access to a great education options, regardless of school designations. At the end of the day, charter schools are public schools, and all students should receive equal opportunity, an equitable education, and funding.
The Texas House of Representatives is taking steps to make improvements to the current school finance system. HB 2337 is one of those steps. It begins the process of closing an estimated $1,400 funding gap between funding for students who attend public charter schools and those who attend traditional public schools.
Rep. Lucio has always shown a strong and unwavering commitment to public education. He should be applauded for taking this important step to ensure all children in public education are treated equally.