• September 21, 2019

OUR VIEW: Funds to improve education in Permian Basin - Odessa American: Our Opinion

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OUR VIEW: Funds to improve education in Permian Basin

THE POINT: The Permian Strategic Partnership is busy putting their money where their mouth is.

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Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2019 2:30 am

Both Odessa and Midland will benefit from IDEA Public Schools opening 14 schools in Odessa and Midland by the 2024-2025 school year.

The Permian Strategic Partnership is an alliance of 20 energy companies located in West Texas and Southeast New Mexico. The group formed last year and said they had one goal in mind: supporting the community to make roads safer, improve schools, upgrade healthcare, increase affordable housing, and train the next generation of workers.

Isn’t it refreshing to so quickly see that this group meant what it said?

It’s no secret that overcrowded schools, low test scores and a teacher shortage are all factors that mix together to make it a tough time for education in our area.

The IDEA Public Schools can surely only help alleviate some of that overcrowding for our beleaguered school districts. We are big supporters of public education and are always rooting for ECISD to succeed but the need for choice and to lessen that burden on our district is critical.

Along with the PSP, a group of Permian Basin companies, foundations and individuals from Ector and Midland counties have contributed nearly $55 million in startup funds for IDEA.

The generous names are familiar.

The Scharbauer Foundation donated $21 million; Abell-Hanger Foundation, $5.5 million; and The Henry Foundation, $2 million. Odessa businessman Collin Sewell is leading efforts to raise up to $10 million from individuals and organizations in Odessa.

How can these generous folks ever be thanked enough for making this effort?

This commitment is huge as well as generous.

All of us in the Permian Basin do a lot of complaining about the crowded roads, lack of affordable housing and many, many other issues.

This is something to cheer on in a big and profound way. This investment could change the face of education in our community. Not just by the many new choices of schools but also by giving a little breathing room to our public school system by thinning out the number of students.

Midland will see a school open in August 2020 and Odessa by 2021. Fourteen schools at seven sites in Odessa and Midland should open by the 2024-2025 school year.

IDEA Public Schools has grown from a small school with 150 students to the fastest-growing network of tuition-free, Pre-K-12 public charter schools in the United States. Currently, the network serves nearly 53,000 college-bound students in 96 schools across Texas and Louisiana.

IDEA schools are much sought after and have national rankings on The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report’s Top High Schools lists. One thing we find particularly impressive is that IDEA remains on-track to uphold its legacy of sending 100 percent of its graduates to college.

That’s a big deal in our area. Shoot, that’s a big deal in any area. We thank the PSP and all those involved in this. We think you should as well.

Odessa, TX

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