September signals the end of summer and the beginning of the academic year for millions of Texas students.

While schoolkids may understandably be less excited than their parents about the back-to-school rush, parents may also be unhappy if they were fully aware of the quality of education their children are returning to.  Sadly, there are more than a million Texas students who attended low-performing or failing schools, according to the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) August 2022 School Accountability Report.  What’s more, the recent TEA STAAR Test results for 2023 showed no significant improvement to this situation.

The TEA 2022 School Accountability Report lists 1,901 school campuses across the state with a student achievement rating of less than 70%—and overwhelming majority of which were elementary schools. This should be a cause for concern, as elementary schools establish the foundation of educational success for Texas students.

Alarmingly, Bexar County ranked the third highest in the state with 109,480 students attending 216 school campuses that were low-performing or failing. Of these, 161 were elementary schools; six were elementary or secondary schools; 38 were middle schools; and 11 were high schools. This shows a systemic failure—failing elementary schools feeding into failing middle schools, feeding into failing high schools.

These failing schools are located in every Independent school district across the county, not only San Antonio’s southside, which has long experienced management problems with TEA. Low ranking and failing ISDs include San Antonio ISD, South San Antonio ISD, Harlandale ISD, Edgewood ISD, Southside ISD, South West ISD,  North East ISD, East Central ISD, Judson ISD and even the much lauded Northside ISD.

To be fair, even some charter schools made the list: Harmony Public Schools, Jubilee Academies, Southwest Preparatory Schools, Compass Rose Public Schools, Promesa Academy Charter School, Lighthouse Public Schools, Bexar County Academy, and The Gathering Place schools.

As we’re seeing schools fail to prepare children to be successful, there has been a double digit increase in juvenile crime that affects our very safety as a community.

Recently, KENS5 News interviewed Judge William Cruz Shaw of the 436th Juvenile District Court of Bexar County.

“We’re seeing juvenile crime increase,” he said,  “We don’t know if it’s because SAPD and the sheriff are making more arrests, but we are seeing a lot more juveniles in our courts on violent offenses – gun offenses, aggravated offenses—and it’s higher than what we’ve seen in the past.”

The KENS5 interview highlighted that in a monthly Bexar County Juvenile Probation Referral Trends Report shared with the Public Safety Committee of the San Antonio City Council non-violent felony reports increased a whopping 135% over the same window in 2022.

Condemning children to a poor education because they live in a specific ZIP Code is unconscionable. This is one of the major driving factors behind the parent empowerment movement, which would give parents the economic freedom to choose where to send their kids to school. Parental empowerment, which has been championed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott,  is a must-pass issue and the likely focus of another legislative special session.

Unfortunately, parent empowerment has historically been defeated in the Texas House of Representatives where legislators, including those from Bexar County, have voted against it. Yet the Bexar County House Delegation, Republican and Democrat alike, has nearly 110,000 students attending low-performing or failing schools in their districts.

As parents increase their involvement in their children’s education, they have made it clear they need better and more options. They are seeking better opportunities that result in a quality education—whether that’s through public, charter or private schools. Bexar County parents, like all Texas parents, deserve quality, transparency, respect—and most importantly, a choice in how their children are educated.