School & District Management

Public-Private Effort Helps Texas High Schools

By Andrew Trotter — May 17, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new phase is getting under way in an ambitious project to help Texas students succeed in high school and graduate ready for college and the workforce.

The Texas High School Project is an initiative, endorsed in November 2003 by Gov. Rick Perry and leaders of the legislature, to coordinate more than $60 million in state-managed grants for high school improvement with similar investments by several large philanthropies.

A charity serving as the manager for much of the private money, the Dallas-based Communities Foundation of Texas, will make its first high school awards, totaling $21.5 million, late this month or in June, according to John Fitzpatrick, a Communities Foundation of Texas official who serves as the executive director of the private side of the high school project.

The major private funders are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

The new grants are intended to establish about 75 new and redesigned high schools in high-need areas, such as poor communities along the state’s border with Mexico as well as in Texas’ large urban centers.

“We’re coming together like that old cartoon—‘Superfriends’—trying to improve high schools in the state of Texas,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said of the foundations’ collaboration with the state government. “Sometimes, they’re putting their money together, doing follow-up investments; sometimes we’re doing separate things.”

Making Schools Smaller

State officials expect the partnership to produce benefits.

“There’s a synergy in public-private partnership,” said Barbara Knaggs, a project manager at the Texas Education Agency who manages the high school grant programs. “We can leverage that for more change than we ever could in our high schools if it was just a public initiative.”

Of the $21.5 million in grants due to be announced this spring, $8.7 million will be used to redesign five large, comprehensive high schools that have low student achievement into smallerlearning communities.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said “a big chunk” of that money would pay for “a nationally recognized technical-service provider, with experience in breaking up large high schools into smaller units.”

The partnership’s selection team is looking favorably on districts that plan to use their redesigned high schools as models for districtwide changes, Mr. Fitzpatrick added.

Other grants, totaling $6.1 million, will be used to set up eight charter schools for underserved students. Competing for that money, Mr. Fitzgerald said, are several well-known school management companies. He declined to name them because of ongoing negotiations.

The third set of grants, adding up to $6.6 million, will go to higher education systems to establish 11 schools on or near college campuses. Those “early-college high schools” would allow students to earn two years of college credit or an associate degree while they are earning their high school diplomas.

Questions Remain

But it remains to be seen whether the public-private partnership will make a difference in Texas high schools, according to an education researcher with experience analyzing Texas schools and their efforts to improve teaching.

“Finding time [for teachers] is the first step, but what are they going to do with the time to change the way they teach, to take advantage of these new structures?” asked Eric Hirsch, the vice president of policy and partnership at the Southeast Center for Teaching Quality in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Related Tags:

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management This State Created a Retention System for Principals. Here’s Why It Worked
Missouri has deepened the support it offers to new principals through a partly federally funded, two-year mentoring program.
6 min read
Photos of principals walking in school hallway.
E+ / Getty
School & District Management Opinion 5 Reasons Why Education Leaders Avoid Controversial Topics
Understanding why we shy away from challenging conversations can be a path toward empathy and an opportunity for learning.
4 min read
Let's brainstorm!
Created on Canva
School & District Management Most Superintendents Try to Avoid Politics. This Group Encourages Them to Lean In
Superintendents increasingly face politically tricky situations. A new collaborative hopes to support them.
3 min read
Illustration of person riding a unicycle on a tightrope over shark infested waters.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images
School & District Management Superintendent of the Year Focuses on How to ‘Do More’ in Minnesota
The 2024 winner of the national honor didn't want to spend pandemic relief funds "in the way that we’ve always spent our money."
2 min read
Joe Gothard, superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools stands for a portrait at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minn., on Aug. 21, 2021, where new federal school funding will help to hire staff, buy books and be used for building renovations.
Joe Gothard, superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools stands for a portrait at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minn., on Aug. 21, 2021. Gothard was named the 2024 National Superintendent of the Year on Thursday by AASA, The School Superintendents' Association.
Andy Clayton-King/AP