IDEA Public Schools celebrates National School Choice Week

IDEA Public Schools will dedicate and name three campuses, scheduled to open in August 2017, in honor of Harvey E. Najim and the Najim Family Foundation, the George W. Brackenridge Foundation and the Ewing Halsell Foundation. (Courtesy photo)

By Jennifer Flores

This week, IDEA Public Schools will join thousands of schools, districts and communities in recognition of National School Choice Week (NSCW). NSCW is an initiative created to shine a positive spotlight on effective education options for children, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling.

IDEA believes that every child, regardless of race or income, should have access to a high-quality education. Across our regions, thousands of students are in need of a quality education and the achievement gap is starkly present. More educational choice and high-quality school options can help reverse this trend.

Throughout the week, IDEA will host and attend positive events that celebrate school choice options, while drawing attention to the need for even greater education opportunities for children. IDEA will end the week with its 2017-18 application deadline on Jan. 27, followed by hosting the annual IDEA lottery on Saturday, Jan. 28 and randomly select the students who will fill the coveted spots for the upcoming school year.

“As a parent, I value having the choice to decide what school is best for my child,” said Osvaldo Leal, a parent at IDEA Brownsville. “Every parent wants the best education for their child. We want the best teachers who are committed to providing a quality education to their students, and I found that at IDEA.”

Since 2001, 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. IDEA, which serves nearly 30,000 students at 51 schools across the Rio Grande Valley, Austin and San Antonio, continues to rank among the best charter schools in the state and nation, and is on-track to maintain its legacy of sending 100 percent of its graduates to college.

IDEA currently serves 5,000 students in grades K-10 at 14 schools across San Antonio, and in 2017, that number will rise to 9,000 students in grades Pre-K-11 across 20 schools.

“When JoAnn Gama and I started IDEA 17 years ago in the Rio Grande Valley, we wanted to provide a free, quality education option for families to send their kids to in their neighborhood,” said Tom Torkelson, CEO of IDEA Public Schools. “National School Choice Week reminds parents that they have a fundamental right to choose where they want to send their kids to school, and we are proud to provide that option in the communities that might not have an additional opportunity otherwise.”

Information for families interested in applying to IDEA Public Schools:

  • To enter the lottery, you must submit a completed application before the deadline on Friday, Jan. 27.
  • Applications can be completed online at, by phone at 210-239-4332, or in person by visiting any IDEA San Antonio campus during normal hours.
  • Whenever IDEA Public Schools receives more applications than spots available, we must randomly select students to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to attend. A blind lottery will be held Saturday, Jan.28 to determine which students will fill spots available at each IDEA school.
  • When the capacity for each grade is reached, the remaining students’ applications are assigned a position on the waiting list in randomized order (only applications completed before the deadline participate in the lottery).

Currently, demand is high to attend IDEA Public Schools, so we encourage parents to submit their application before the deadline. Students who aren’t selected immediately are automatically placed on the waiting list, and spots may become available throughout the year.

For more information on IDEA Public Schools, please visit