San Antonio’s rapidly evolving educational landscape stands to dramatically improve the lives of the city’s youngest residents. Ambitious innovation, increased accountability, and high-performing charter networks are revolutionizing inner city educational prospects. Meanwhile, traditionally strong independent school districts hone their best practices.

All of these issues, and likely more, will be put to a panel of education leaders at the second annual San Antonio Regional Public PK-12 Education Forum on April 17 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Witte Museum’s Mays Family Center. Panelists will include Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez, Chair of Trinity University’s Education Department Shari Albright, Choose to Succeed Founding Chair Victoria B. Rico, and Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods. The discussion will be moderated by Rivard Report Director Robert Rivard.

Tickets are $65 and can be purchased online. Rivard Report members can attend for $45. Contact mason@rivardreport.com for details. Proceeds will go to a variety of educational nonprofits throughout the city and to the Rivard Report.

Last year’s inaugural Education Forum at the Pearl Stable prompted event organizers to think bigger and bolder for the 2017 Education Forum.

“We want to get more and more people to step forward to donate to more and more educational causes, to talk to representatives in Austin, and to get friends and family involved,” said Michael Burke, education advocate and retired CEO of Tesoro Petroleum. In addition to organizing the Education Forum, Burke is the founder and chairman of the San Antonio Clean Energy Forum.

By hosting the event at the Mays Family Center, organizers hope to attract up to 600 attendees. A number of local teachers and students will be invited to attend at no cost.

The 2016 Education Forum generated significant conversation. Frank interactions among panelists elucidated the challenges facing public education, but also gave the business and civic leaders in the audience reason to hope. The energy, Burke explained, comes from bringing together the stakeholders and letting them share ideas.

“There’s a lot of great organizations that are sincerely working to improve education in our region, and yet they have not interacted with each other as you might have expected,” Burke said.

The planning sessions leading up to the forum were attended by the “Who’s Who” of education in the region. Leaders from the public sector, charter sector, and educational nonprofits work together to ensure that the most pressing and relevant issues make it to the stage. The Rivard Report serves as the organizing nonprofit for the event.

The planning events themselves were well attended with nearly 40 members and sparked dynamic conversation, Burke said.

Consensus is not the goal, but progress is. Both organizers and panelists represent varied approaches to the educational challenges of the city, state, and nation. Their robust conversation offers new insight for those who might not yet know how to get involved. 

“Our primary purpose is to inform and update regional leaders and interested and concerned citizens on the state of our PK-12 public education,” Burke said. With that information he hopes that private citizens, business leaders, and philanthropists will be inspired to do their part in improving the quality of education for all children in the region.

Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.