A new environmental charter school is located on the campus of Paul Quinn College in southern Dallas. Officials say the partnership between a public elementary school and private college is a first in Texas.
Texas public colleges, including Dallas County Community College District, UT-Austin and some others, partner with charter schools.
Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell isn't sure why his is the only private college in the state to create a charter school partnership.
“People don’t tend to believe things they’ve never seen before,” Sorrell says. “Lots of places still have an uneasiness about charter schools. Lots of old-line educators still express some issues.”
Sorrell says money’s not the reason. Trinity Environmental Academy uses existing buildings, and the charter is leasing the space.
He knows and believes in the school’s creators, and says the concept’s a good fit for Paul Quinn. After all, a few years back, the historically black college got rid of its football field, turning it into a giant garden. The campus also sits in a low-income community with few resources, Sorrell says.
“You’re attracting a part of your community to campus that probably wouldn't be there on a daily basis,” Sorrell says. “You’re expanding how people view your institution. You’re creating a college-going culture among a segment of students that probably can benefit. … Well, all students can benefit from that.”
Sorrell is confident the charter will succeed, having rejected other plans in the past. But he says that misses the point. Because even if the charter fails, he says Paul Quinn’s better off just for making the effort.