San Antonio nonprofit organization helps parents navigate charter school process

There are numerous charter schools—public and private—around the Alamo City.

Some San Antonio school districts have several charter schools. In fact, SAISD has an entire section of its website devoted to in-district charter school programs.

The head of San Antonio Charter Moms, Inga Cotton, joined Leading SA on Sunday to talk about the charter schools and navigating the process.

“So I think for my own kids, their experience during the pandemic made them feel disconnected with their teachers and their peers. And in order to get them reengaged, I tried to really listen to them about what their dreams were for, what they wanted to be when they grew up, and they both woke up that they want careers in technology. And so I researched and found a charter school that specializes in technology and so, they do all their core classes but they also get electives and clubs that fit into the careers that they’re interested in,” Cotton said.

Cotton said now her kids are much more motivated in school.

“They get to interact with people working in those fields. And it’s gotten my kids much more engaged and motivated to reconnect with school and think about their future. And I think that’s what folks are ready for is that we’ve experienced so much disruption and trauma from the pandemic, but it’s time to think about a brighter future and how we can help our kids get ready for that,” Cotton said.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents became more engaged in their children’s education and many families have re-evaluated their school choices.

“Families got an up-close look at what schools like when their kids experience distance learning or doing school from home. And for some families, they needed a different setting. They needed full-time online or they needed full-time in-person. And just getting that up-close look, they realized they needed to look more closely at what type of school is going to serve their kids the best. And that’s the kind of resources we offer. So charter schools offer kind of specialized learning models. And the challenge for parents is to try to sort those out. If you got, you know, which school offers, what type of learning and what’s going to be the best fit for their own children,” Cotton said.

Cotton mentioned that there has been immense growth in charter school options, and more parents are reaching out for guidance.

“San Antonio Charter Moms started in 2012, so we’ve been at it for a while. We have seen a lot of growth in the number of charter school options. One of the biggest changes is in San Antonio ISD. They offer choice schools, so they have over 90 campuses that offer specialized learning programs. But there’s also been growth in the open-enrollment charter schools. And what’s great about those is that you don’t have to live in any particular part of town or host any particular school district. So, if there’s if your neighborhood by the school isn’t going to be the right fit, there’s a lot of other options out there,” Cotton said.

You can find guidance and more information on the programs here. But Cotton said you have to start somewhere.

“So basically, tip number one if you can, plan ahead. So schools have already held open enrollment for this coming school year, but also, don’t give up hope because schools are still making offers to students on the waiting list. But if this all sounds confusing, the waiting list, lottery, open enrollment, we have resources to explain that. We have a blog post on our site as SACharter.com. They also have a really active Facebook group, it’s almost 9000 members, and it’s, you know, moms and dads helping each other to answer these questions. And we also have in-person events. We just had one in Universal City, and we’re planning ahead,” Cotton said.

And in planning ahead, SA Charter Moms will be hosting an event Saturday, March 26, at Main Pavilion at the Greenline at Brooks.

You can also watch the full interview with Cotton in the video player above.

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