Educate Texas network represents about 770,000 students and 50,000 teachers
Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has been elected 2014 chair of the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents, a network of the largest urban school districts in Texas representing approximately 777,000 students and 50,000 teachers throughout Texas.
The school districts participating in the state’s urban network include Aldine, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio and Ysleta.
Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of the Communities Foundation of Texas, established the network as a part of its Education Leadership Initiative in recognition of the critical role quality school leaders play in success of all schools. This initiative is intended to strengthen the link among leadership development, a more focused learning environment and increased student performance by increasing the number of principals and teacher-leaders able to successfully lead change in high-need schools.
During Carstarphen’s tenure at AISD, the district’s most vulnerable student groups have seen increased achievement. In particular African-American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students have made gains–from increasing attendance and graduation rates, performance on state assessments, school ratings, college readiness and post-secondary enrollment to decreasing dropout rates and disciplinary referrals.
Educate Texas convenes the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents to discuss the areas of greatest opportunity and challenge in their school districts. The council aims to increase the focus on urban education, provide support and resources, and to coordinate efforts among the superintendents who lead some of the largest districts in the state and nation.
“We value Dr. Carstarphen’s leadership and commitment to Texas urban schools and are looking forward to her leading the council as it continues to work together to prepare our students for college and career success” John Fitzpatrick, executive director of Educate Texas, said.
Urban districts face a variety of challenges trying to serve larger percentages of children living in poverty who are less likely to have parents with high levels of education and are often trying to balance different barriers. The challenges are multiplied from urban districts as they try to maximize resources to provide support for not only academic, but developmental, socio-emotional medical and enrichment needs as well. The council provides an opportunity for superintendents to share best practices and insights with each other as they work to continuously improve student outcomes in their districts.
Past Texas Urban Superintendent Council Chairs include Abe Saaveadra from Houston ISD, Michael Hinajosa from Dallas ISD, Robert Durron from San Antonio ISD and Scott Elliff from Corpus Christi ISD. The Texas Urban Superintendent Council has focused on college readiness strategies such as Early College High Schools and T-STEM Academies, effective teaching and human capital and sharing best practices in urban districts.
Since July 2009, Carstarphen has served as the superintendent of AISD, an urban public school district with an annual budget of $950 million, 12,000 employees and 87,000 pre-K-12 students in 123 schools.
She serves as an adjunct faculty member in the University of Texas at Austin’s department of educational administration. She is a member of the Austin Area Research Organization and serves on the boards of the Council of Great City Schools, Educational Testing Services, Austin Partners in Education, Austin Public Education Foundation, the Austin Symphony and Ballet Austin, and is on the Children’s Hospital/AISD Health Service Advisory Board. She also mentors a student through the Seedling Foundation.