University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

Statement from Dr. Gregory Vincent about Partnerships with Blackshear Elementary and AISD

November 20, 2013

A recent public claim from an individual alleged that students at Blackshear Elementary School suffer psychological abuse due to the pedagogical methods used for homework and studying in preparation for standardized tests. The claim drew larger questions about the implementation of these methods at other schools in the Austin Independent School District (AISD).

I am confident that AISD is taking this matter seriously and will address it effectively should the allegation have merit. Still, when such a claim exists, it can easily overshadow the good work of AISD’s teachers, staff and students—work that I and my division fully support. I have heard nothing but good things about Blackshear Elementary, an East Austin school that has a rich history of engaging underserved students since 1891. When I visited the school recently, I met with the principal, teachers and staff who were proud of the work of their students, the leadership of the administration and their connection to the university. It is clear they have gone to great lengths in order to create a positive and nurturing educational environment.

As vice president for diversity and community engagement (DDCE) and W.K. Kellogg professor in the Department of Educational Administration, I am proud of the university’s partnerships with AISD. Through DDCE initiatives like Communities in Schools, The University of Texas Elementary School, Project MALES, and the Longhorn Center for School Partnerships, we collaborate with AISD to create pathways for underrepresented students to succeed academically, from Pre-K to Pre-college and beyond.

I commend Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen for her commitment to Austin schools and our partnerships, even when the district faced tough budgetary challenges. I similarly applaud the hard work of AISD teachers, staff and administration. The university remains their steadfast partner in ensuring all students have the opportunity to succeed.

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