Broken Promises & Neglect: Community Mobilization for a New School
In 1989, AISD announced its plan to lease a new school for a majority-white suburb. This frustrated the Metz community because for years, Metz students had been going to school in unsafe conditions, exemplified by teacher Monica Clark's ceiling collapsing in 1989, or the longstanding fears of the floor collapsing that led to the library being moved to the first floor. Metz community members felt that the dangerous conditions at Metz should be the district's first priority, and the district's decision to open a new school for a white suburb only increased the sentiment that it was the district's racism fueling the neglect of Metz Elementary. In an Austin American-Statesman article, PTA president Maria Govea was quoted as saying:
"They've been promising us a new school for 30 years... Do you see a new school? All we get are Band-Aid repairs"
“Now we’ve been forgotten again..many people around here feel that because we are Hispanic, we are being discriminated against and that had Metz been at some other location in Austin, we would be the ones getting a new school"
The community decided to mobilize against the decision and on September 15th, 1989, they protested in front of Metz Elementary school. Signs read:
"30 years of broken promises"
"Stop the racist school board actions"
"East Austin is a priority"
Eventually, AISD decided to construct a new building for Metz Elementary. This was not a decision that came quickly, or through district benevolence -- as these articles show, it took a community fed up with decades of neglect mobilizing to sway the district. Even as the new building was being built, there was a sense, according to Sandi Heimsath and Monica Clark that they were "building for the other people” from outside the east Austin community.
Nevertheless, the Metz community celebrated the decision for a new school, and was an active part in ensuring its success. According to Lupe Ramos, community members such as Lorraine "Grandma" Camacho walked the streets of the neighborhood surrounding Metz asking residents if they'd be willing to sell their homes to make room for the new building. Despite the fact that AISD was not offering very much for their homes, many residents did because they felt it was worth a safe and updated school for Metz students. The hard work and sacrifices needed for the new school contributed to the community's disappointment and frustration when AISD decided to close and demolish Metz Elementary, only about 30 years after the decision for a new school.