This is the number of kids on the waiting list for my school, Yes Prep North Central. This means that there are (at least) 416 kids in North Central Houston who want a good education, but it is not available to them. The other YES campuses have similar waiting lists, so there are about two thousand kids in Houston in this situation. Many of the local HISD schools have been rated “unacceptable” by the state. The local high school, Sam Houston, was recently closed due to “unacceptable” ratings for six years in a row! What seems “unacceptable” to me is that educators are not doing their jobs. Kids and parents are starting to realize that the school system here in Houston has done them a disservice and now they are forced to look for a good education elsewhere. Many cannot afford a private school like St. John’s or Kinkaid. While there are many successful free charter schools in Houston, they are all full and cannot accept more students with the space they have this year.
YES currently has five campuses in Houston and has a plan in place to grow to 13 campuses. When fully grown out, YES will send THREE TIMES more low income students to college than all of the HISD schools combined. It kills me to think of those students who know they are not getting what they need to succeed in life, but they have no options. Although it is depressing to think about the kids we are not reaching, it encourages me that we are doing the right thing with the kids we do have. So when you’re thinking about how to improve education or even how to vote in November, think of those 416 kids on our waiting list. High performing charter schools are the future of education. Kids and families deserve school choice when their local schools are not performing. We need high caliber people from other sectors to commit time, talents, and money to progressive education. If not, the big districts will continue to operate in a culture of low expectations for students who just want a better life.