Giving Compass' Take:

• Beth Hawkins reports that San Antonio is working to improve educational opportunities for low-income students by embracing in-district charter schools. 

• What are the advantages of the in-district charter school model? 

• Learn more about district-run autonomous schools

Over the summer, Families Empowered, a nonprofit group that helps Texas families navigate their school choice options, revealed an eye-popping number. For the 2017-18 school year, San Antonio families submitted nearly 40,000 applications to the city’s three largest charter school networks: Great Hearts Texas, KIPP San Antonio (now KIPP Texas), and IDEA Public Schools.

Six years ago, those networks combined enrolled some 800 San Antonio students, according to Choose to Succeed, a group working to attract charter schools to the city. Today, the organization puts the number of students in schools it supports at 16,600. The goal is 60,000 by 2026.

With 1.5 million residents, San Antonio is already the seventh-largest city in the country and is estimated to grow by a million more people in the next 10 years, says Choose to Succeed CEO Christopher “Chip” Haass.

Opinions about school choice notwithstanding, what these numbers add up to is a tidal wave of change aimed directly at one of the nation’s fastest-growing and yet most economically divided cities. An unconventional leader, San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez has responded by engaging his would-be competitors, creating in-district charter schools that are proving wildly popular, making sure the most impoverished kids are fairly represented in them, and asking everyone to push toward the same goal as the charter schools: making sure all students are college-bound.

Read the full article about San Antonio schools by Beth Hawkins at The 74.