Commentary: Partners work together to support every Midland student by Bibi Yasmin Katsev
Op-Ed: Partners work together to benefit every Midland student
by: Bibi Yasmin Katsev, Texas District Charter Alliance executive director, May 17, 2020
This time of change has caused us all to take a pause, to focus on our priorities and what we are truly grateful for. When I stop and think, it is the educators we work with every day who give me reason to hope for a bright future for every Texas student. They have not let this crisis keep them from doing what is best for students. Midland ISD has continued to strive for academic excellence for all students and introduced home learning support via Google Classroom, distributed devices for those in need, launched tele-counseling services and provided nutritional meals for all children under 18.
You have reason to be proud of Midland teachers and staff for short-term help and long-term planning. The school district is focused on excellence and that starts at the top. The school board adopted the Lone Star Governance model and the district joined the System of Great Schools network, which fits right in with community requests for high quality choices. Midland ISD has partnered with proven operators, through SB 1882 partnerships, to bring a variety of quality options to Midland families. Partners, such as IDEA Public Schools, Young Women’s Preparatory Network, REACH Network, Third Future Schools, The Carver Center, Ben Milam International Academy and the Pre-K Academy at Midland College, are part of the plan for the district to create innovation that supports student learning and provides high quality academic results for all students.
We want to help clear up some misconceptions though. These students are Midland ISD students, and these innovative school partners are in Midland because your school district specifically asked them to come be part of the education landscape in MISD. The district has crafted these partnerships and created these innovations and changes with a focus on what is best for every student. This is the very definition of partnership: Joined together; usually involving close cooperation between parties having specified and joint rights and responsibilities. Using “takeover” language or competition only serves to divide, when the intention and goal of Texas Partnerships is to promote collaboration and cooperation.
It’s not us vs. them. It’s not our kids and their kids. These are all our kids; they are our future and the future workforce and civic leaders in Midland and in our great state, regardless of which school they attend. They may not all begin with the same advantages or at the same starting block. But we have innovative educators ready to prepare them to run the same race and to achieve to high standards and be ready for college and the workforce. Which is why every community needs a robust education system with multiple options for parents including district schools, charter schools, private schools, homeschool, virtual schools, and partnerships between districts and charters.
According to the Texas Education Agency, "Texas Partnerships offer districts the opportunity to expand the diversity of school options, bring in targeted expertise for innovation and turnaround support, and empower school leaders and partners with greater autonomy. Most importantly, effective partnerships give more students access to great schools.”
Midland has a plan in place to help ensure students are not stuck at a troubled school. Creating partnerships with strong providers with a proven track record of success enables our educators to serve students well. Change is hard, but we can remember to take a pause and focus on our priorities. Giving students access to great schools in Midland is at the top of the list. Districts working with charters and other partners to benefit every Midland student is a key part of the plan. Let’s stand ready to work together to achieve the goal of a bright future for every student.
Bibi Yasmin Katsev is the executive director of the Texas District Charter Alliance, an organization dedicated to district charter partnerships and collaborative work focusing on improving student outcomes across Texas.