Houston is home to some high-profile charter schools, like KIPP, that tend to focus on urban neighborhoods.
But the suburbs of Katy are drawing a different charter network. Some parents there wanted more programs for their kids to become bilingual in school. So they went online and found a charter school called the International Leadership of Texas.
They asked the school’s founder and superintendent, Eddie Conger, to open a campus here because it focuses on languages. Three to be exact.
“English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, but we want to also prepare them to be leaders, emphasizing servant leadership,” said Conger, a former principal with the Dallas school district.
Students are supposed to become proficient in all three, including Mandarin Chinese.
“Personally it’s an important language, along with Spanish, for our kids to learn for us to be, as a state and as a country, to be competitive, both economically and other areas as well,” Conger said.
This week those parents’ request will get closer to reality. The International Leadership of Texas breaks ground Thursday on its first two campuses in Houston: one near Westpark and the other in Katy.
Already, the charter network is booming in the suburbs of Dallas where it started. It has more than 5,000 students in Arlington, Garland and Keller, and some 6,000 families on the wait-list, according to Conger.
The goal is to prepare children to compete globally. His own military experience taught him how languages are essential fpr that.
“Serving in the Marine Corps, traveling around the world, meeting other officers, the Americans are speaking English and the other countries are speaking two or three languages,” Conger said.
Both new campuses in Houston will open in August for students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Each will enroll about 1,400 students.
Charter schools receive public money but are run by independent boards.