Many of you might not know that for 13 years, UT Austin has been taking on some of the biggest challenges in public education through the University Charter School.
In 1998 UT launched the University Charter School with 50 students in one location. Today — administered by our Division of Continuing and Innovative Education and under the leadership of Superintendent Gwyn Boyter — the school is composed of 250 faculty and staff teaching 725 students in 15 facilities from San Antonio to Waco and from Richmond, near Houston, to Mountain Home, near Kerrville. The program is financially self supporting.
The school serves primarily students who, for a variety of reasons, are not well suited to a traditional classroom. Some 96 percent are considered at risk of dropping out. While some are highly gifted and talented, up to 45 percent have special needs. Adding to the educational challenge is the fact that more than 80 percent will enter or leave the program during the school year, so although 725 are enrolled at any given time, the program touches more than 2,000 students annually. Sixty-four percent of the students are from low-income families.
The University Charter School operates in residential treatment centers, where students often demonstrate severe neurological and learning dysfunction as well as emotional or behavioral disorders.
We teach in psychiatric hospitals; a residential home for children who, for a various reasons, cannot live at home; therapeutic wilderness camps; a shelter housing families escaping domestic violence; a home for girls in crisis pregnancies; a medical facility for children who require specialized services due to brain injury or neuro-behavioral issues or medical issues; and even in two elite gymnastics programs.
There can be no more intensive, critical, and noble work than educating children, especially those who are facing an array challenges most of us will never know.
I’m proud The University of Texas is doing this important work.
What starts here changes the world.