Superintendents of the 15 Bexar County school districts gathered at the Jefferson High School flag pole today to set the record straight.
With a ceremonial flag raising, they officially launched the "Go Public" marketing and awareness campaign to spread the word about the people, programs and students achieving positive results in Bexar Country public schools. The superintendents were joined by the campaign tri-chairs, USAA CEO Gen. Josue Robles, CST Brands CEO Kim Bowers, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas President Chris Nielsen.
Representatives from across the county attended to showcasing the diversity and strengths of public schools outside the classroom. Cheerleaders from the NEISD high schools, mariachi from Southwest High School, the Jefferson High School Lasso Girls, and members of SAISD JROTC participated in the kickoff.
SAISD Superintendent Dr. Sylvester Perez reminded those gathered that the location of the announcement, Jefferson High School, was a reminder of the high profile history of our city's public schools. Jefferson High School was named the "Most Outstanding School in America" when it was built in the 1930s. It appeared on the cover of Life Magazine and has a history of success, innovation, and positive press. Advocates maintain that success and innovation are still going strong and the Go Public campaign aims to bring that positive image back where it belongs.
All three tri-chairs are proud graduates of public school, and all three send their kids to Bexar County public schools.
Gen. Robles is a proud advocate of public schools and said he would always lend his voice to the cause.
"The concept of educating all people regardless of race, class, or socioeconomic status is the engine that had made America a great nation and an economic power," said Robles.
Bowers spoke as a proud NEISD mother.
"I can personally attest to the quality of our public schools," she said.
Bowers cited the high qualifications of Bexar County teachers, who have an average of 12 years teaching experience – one-third have Masters degrees.
Even more exciting to her was the diversity of students in public school classrooms. As a mother, she wants her children to benefit from learning and sharing life with people from different backgrounds.
Nielsen, whose kids have been in San Antonio public schools since his family moved here four years ago, has more than just a personal connection to public schools.
"We consider the public schools to be (Toyota's) close partners," he said.
He spoke of the amazing technology and robotics programs blossoming on the Southside. These programs are opening up future careers for the students, he said, and for some of them, that could mean careers at Toyota, which is exactly what Nielsen would like to see.
"These are the stories we believe we don't hear enough about," Nielsen said.
Which begs the question ... why? In coming weeks, The Rivard Report and I will continue to dig deeper into the common perception – at times, mythological lore – of the "failing" public school. We hope to uncover the sources of the stigma and continue to do our part to set the record straight where it needs straightening.
Bekah is a native San Antonian. She went away to Los Angeles for undergrad before earning her MSc in Media and Communication from the London School of Economics. She made it back home and now works for Ker and Downey. She is one of the founding members of Read the Change, a web-based philanthropy and frequent contributor to the Rivard Report. You can also find her at her blog, Free Bekah.