I recently had the opportunity to give a presentation at the School Superintendents Association’s (AASA) National Conference on Education about ensuring every student begins kindergarten ready to learn as part of the AASA’s Early Learning Cohort. It’s a topic that hits, quite literally, close to home for me.
My district, Wichita Falls ISD, is almost a hybrid urban-rural district. Our 14,000 students reflect the diversity of Texas, with 41 percent white students, 37 percent Hispanic, 14 percent African-American and about 6 percent two or more races. At some of our schools, the free and reduced lunch rate is as low as 35 percent, but at several others it is higher than 90 percent.
Like many urban districts, our city is a social-service, medical, and retail hub for nearby communities—but like many rural districts, our city is not on the way to any other destination. People don’t end up here by accident. They have to want to come, and we struggle to attract teachers as a result.