New Superintendent Community Close Up
A community forum to introduce Dr. Meria Carstarphen was held Saturday March 7 at Reagan High School.
Meria Carstarphen was announced as the lone finalist for the AISD job last week. She’s currently the superintendent of public schools in St. Paul, Minnesota. The city is similar to Austin being a capital city and having a diverse school system where 42 percent of the students are English language learners. AISD’s current superintendent Pat Forgione retires in June after holding the position for 10 years.
Carstarphen grew up in Selma, Alabama during the the 1960s. At the forum Carstarphen told the sixty or so people in the audience that she was a hard worker and relentless about quality public education for children.
“My commitment is the following. That I will work and everybody, anybody will call, I’m sure the biggest complaint they hear is that she works us a lot. Because my deal is this. We cannot rest, we are not done and we have not arrived until every child is learning.”
Carstarphen earned several rounds of applause for her stances on education such as filtering out teachers who cannot teach their students. She also earned high marks for saying she didn’t believe in bustling behavior problem children to an alternative education center and for referring to the Texas testing system as being “a little over the top here.” But despite the welcome applause, Carstarphen was quick to warn the community that cooperation and teamwork would be needed from them too.
“There will be circumstances in our education priorities where when don’t have enough money and we don’t have enough capacity that we’re going to have to pick things and get them done right so we take them off the table and move to the next thing. That is where the rub typically happens. Where then it becomes about individual groups getting upset with each other.”
Parent Toni Christmas has two daughters: one at Boone Elementary and the other at Bowie High School. After listening to Carstarphen speak, Christmas said she was “not the stuffy shirt type person.”
“She really wants to get down to the meat of the matter by going into the classrooms, by understanding what works.”
Christmas said she’s been disappointed with the AISD school system. Her daughter was pushed into the 9th grade despite not passing the 8th grade TAKS test. Now Christmass daughter continues to fall behind and cannot play sports.
“I want to see what the new superintendent will do to not have them create a recipe for failure and continued failure for my child and children in the future.”
The community will have another chance to see if Carstarphen is the right fit for AISD on Tuesday, March 10 at Travis High School beginning at 6:30 p.m.