WESLACO – In 1997 Tom Torkelson was part of Teach for America at a local school district.
He could not believe only half of students were making it from their ninth grade year to their senior year. What was even worse was only a third of those students were headed to college.
Currently only 10 percent of students from the Rio Grande Valley are graduating college with a four year degree. Seventy-seven percent of children from upper income families graduate college.
“The reason this matters is because almost everybody who's born into home circumstances with a college degree can access the American dream,” Torkelson said. “Almost no one who is born into a low income bracket has that opportunity.”
In 2000 IDEA Schools had 150 students, today they've grown to 30,000 students across Texas with 51 schools and 20,000 students in the Rio Grande Valley.
The most remarkable thing is that 10 out of 11 years 100 percent of IDEA Schools' students have gone to college and graduated more than five times the national average.
The headquarters will provide a training facility for teachers and other adults who work with students. The corporate office will also be located at the headquarters.
Torkelson said he wanted a building where people would not say “I cannot believe we're in the Valley,” but where they say “This is the type of building we have more and more in the RGV.”
The new IDEA Schools headquarters is located at 2115 W. Pike Blvd. For more information about IDEA Schools visit their website www.ideapublicschools.org.