UTPB seeking partnership with IDEA Public Schools

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A lot of parents are upset after learning that the University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s STEM Academy could be replaced.

The school could become a charter school for IDEA Public Schools in 2021. IDEA Public Schools is a Texas-based non-profit company that operates charters schools around the nation.

“I’m not going back to ECISD, because I know that this school saved my child’s life,” said parent, Crystal Falcon. She says STEM Academy has been the only place where her children’s voices have been heard.

And for parent, Tasha Vasquez, she says uprooting her kids from an environment they thrive in is a “terrifying” feeling. “STEM is a community, it’s not just a school, it’s a family. It’s not a broken system, and it doesn’t need to be replaced, and it doesn’t need to be changed in any way.”

Since UTPB sending out a mass email on Friday with the announcement, the university has been receiving a lot of backlash. It held a press conference Monday morning to publicly make the announcement and to hear the concerns of those involved. Many parents say they felt blindsided and betrayed.

“We weren’t given any options or any heads up that they were considering it,” said Vasquez. Parent, Jennifer Lane Ramsey added, “I did not appreciate hearing over and over that we’re being emotional, and that we’re not being open-minded.”

Questions were asked like wildfire:

Does IDEA require the same number of experience for teachers?
Will IDEA promote project-based learning?
Are all teachers and students guranteed a spot?

This prompting UTPB’s President, Sandra Woodley, to address their emotions.

“You have every right to have every emotion that you’re having.”

“It’s a strong possibility, but a strong possibility is not a gurantee,” said Vasquez regarding the guranteed spots for teachers and students. Jennifer Lane Ramsey adding, “It appears that part of the model with IDEA is to take a teacher with no certificate and put them in a classroom,” in regards to the significantly lower teacher experience requirement at IDEA compared to STEM Academy.


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