How would you address the issue of declining enrollment in Austin’s schools and bridge the achievement gap across AISD?

Linda O’Neal

City Council, District 9

There are more dogs than children in Austin.  That’s a true testament of how expensive it is to live in Austin.  Our schools are incredible segregated. I’ve only taught at Del Valle and at Akins.  Both of those schools are majority Hispanic. Akins is finally getting more diverse, but again, that’s because higher income families are moving in, and many Akins students are now going to Del Valle.  The students who live in the Mueller development go to McCallum and not Reagan. Austin politicians and residents love discussing equity, but when it comes to their neighborhoods and children, they make decisions that hurt the overall health of our schools.  I went to Lanier High School in the eighties and nineties. At that time, the school was incredibly diverse. Part of bridging the achievement gap in AISD is making sure that our schools are diverse in “class” and “race”. The overall climate of a mix classroom is far better and easier to teach. AISD is also broke.  I don’t need to discuss the horrors of recapture, because we’re preaching to the choir. AISD can no longer afford summer school, sheltered class for English Language learners, and now they are discussing increasing our class sizes. I have three classes that have 39 students. Because Akins is more diverse and because I am a good teacher, I can handle those classes, but I shouldn’t have to.  Not everyone is getting their needs met when the classes are that big. Short answer, we can bridge the gap in AISD by decreasing class size and ensuring that boundaries are not drawn to protect the rich kids from the poor kids.