This has been a remarkable several weeks for IDEA Public Schools, and there is mounting evidence that our students, their families, and our employees have created an unstoppable force in American education.
I simply cannot recall, in my entire 20-year career as an educator, a more remarkable month.
This week I was in Austin, along with Eric, Rani, and Kate Harslem announcing their KLE Foundation’s $16 million gift to help us grow to 26 schools serving 20,000 children in Austin. Combined with their previous $2 million gift, and some additional possibilities, their total investment could be as high as $24 million.
This is by far the largest private investment in the history of the organization I founded 16 years ago – in fact, this gift is larger than the combined total budgets for our first five years of operation. The coverage in the Austin media was glowing and positive – which means that it was accurate, fair, and balanced. This is a far cry from the mixed media reaction when we opened IDEA Austin back in 2012. I cannot put into words how much our IDEA Austin students and their results have changed people’s hearts and minds about what kids of modest means can achieve.
And the good news keeps rolling in: Today, the Broad Foundation announced that, for the 3rd consecutive year, IDEA is one of three national finalists for their designation as America’s top-performing charter school system. Earlier this month, over 12,000 people gathered to cheer on our high school seniors who took to the stage to proclaim where they are attending college. This college signing day marked the 10th consecutive year where 100 percent of our students have been accepted to college (and all but one of those years saw 100 percent of our students step foot onto a college campus for the first day of their freshmen year.) Several weeks ago, we received our first batch of standardized testing results and, across the board, our numbers are at an all-time high.
The evidence and data and unmistakable. We are getting better as we get bigger. And because the adults in our system are better than ever, our students are getting smarter than they ever have before. This matters because in three months, there will be 30,000 IDEA students across 50 schools – and each one is in a public school that’s giving them the best shot at reaching their fullest potential and making their community and our nation stronger and better.
But, even still, the size of the solution we are offering isn’t matching the enormous scale of the challenge facing our nation’s young people. Too many are trapped in failing schools that none of you would permit your children, grandkids, nieces, or nephews to attend. That is why we are committed to opening new schools that will change more kids’ lives for the good. We are on track to teach and inspire 100,000 students by 2022. We are continuing to grow our existing regions, and we’re making plans to open in El Paso (a new time zone) and Baton Rouge (a new state), with additional regions launching in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
You’ve received this email because you’ve helped us get to where we are today, and we’re going to need your continued help to get to #100Kby2022. Eric, Rani, and their daughter, Kate, are mountain climbers, and it causes me to reflect that we, at IDEA, are scaling our most challenging peak yet. But, we’re fitter, more experienced, wiser, and better at climbing than we’ve ever been. Most importantly, though, we’re motivated and inspired. We know that we have to succeed because so many families and students are counting on us to give them the best shot at success in life.
Editor’s Note: A short video about the IDEA Public Schools investment in Austin has been produced by IDEA. Click here to watch it.