There are just days left until the start of the Houston ISD school year and hundreds of parents are left scrambling to find a new school for their kids because the district has abruptly cancelled its affiliation with a charter school. Suddenly, Kandy Stripe Academy Charter School will not open this upcoming school year. Many parents are just finding out and were told by automated voice message. Rosalinda Scallion, a parent at Kandy Stripe is furious. view article arw

Democracy Prep is leaving the District of Columbia. Its charter school is a failure. Interestingly, Democracy Prep was chosen to take over the Andre Agassi Charter School in Las Vegas after that well-funded school failed. Charters come, charters go. Kids, go find another school. Tough luck. Better luck next time. Walmart opens and closes stores all the time. What’s the big deal? You know, disruption. view article arw

Houston’s newest charter school emerges like an oasis on East Orem Drive, a freshly constructed four-columned Georgian-style building on a sparse stretch of the city’s southeast side. An estimated 1,200 students on Thursday will fill the campus, home to International Leadership of Texas’ newest outpost. Each day, students will speak Spanish, learn Mandarin Chinese and get 45 minutes of physical education from “fitness coaches” resembling personal trainers. They will learn from educators driving home messages about character, civic duty and servant leadership, echoing a military-style ethos pushed by charter founder and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Eddie Conger.  It is a curriculum unlike any other in Texas, one that serves as the center of Texas’ fastest growing charter school network. view article arw

Charter schools continue their rapid expansion in Central Texas, and likely will enroll 30,000 students in dozens of campuses this school year. Austin Achieve this week opened its second campus in Northeast Austin, which will allow the school to serve 1,500 additional students within a few years. Valor Public Schools will make its debut in South Austin next week, expecting to enroll 450-500 students its first year. And IDEA Public Schools, with three campuses in Austin, will open two new campuses next week — in Pflugerville and Kyle — adding 1,400 more students to its attendance rolls. view article arw

Does anybody have any ideas for Abilene ISD? The school district is launching its Ambassador Academy for the new school year. The Ambassador Academy is an outreach program from the school board that has been designed to add more communication between the school district and the community. view article arw

Draped in a light grey suit and an air tie, LeBron James, widely recognized as the greatest professional basketball player walking the earth, sat down to do an interview on Monday with ESPN journalist Rachel Nichols in his childhood hometown of Akron, Ohio. On any other day since James shocked the sports world by announcing his recent decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers, a typical interview would have focused on him explaining the cosmic shift in the NBA landscape that he alone created. Instead, James announced a new venture with even larger implications than the 6 feet 8 inch forward donning the purple and gold.  view article arw

Curriculum plans, a master schedule that will save the campus money and a new attitude were just some of the items discussed at the first board meeting of Ector College Prep Success Academy. The in-district charter school has its own board including Superintendent of Cloudcroft Municipal Schools Porter Curtell, Ravi Shakamuri, Ron Leach, Sondra Eoff, all Ector County community members, and Zinab Munoz, adjunct faculty at TechTeach at Texas Tech University. Curtell and Leach were attended via video Thursday. view article arw

The demand for charter schools is skyrocketing.  That's according to a new report released today.  "We know that the educational landscape is changing,” said Leslie Price, spokesperson for San Antonio ISD. “There are so many options now for parents to look at to determine what's best for their child." view article arw

With 22 offerings, San Antonio Independent School District is home to the highest number of in-district charter schools among Texas’ roughly 1,200 school districts. But up until now, SAISD has lacked a regular system to evaluate its charter schools.  On Monday, SAISD trustees approved new guidelines the district will use to evaluate its charter partners.  “The current policy says that [SAISD] will review the performance, but there was no procedure to necessarily always follow through on it,” said Mohammed Choudhury, SAISD’s chief innovation officer view article arw

Mercedes Schneider reports that the net rate of charter school growth is declining. The number of charter school closings is rising, and the number of new schools is slowing.  “Market-driven ed reform is a story of races to close gaps. However, there is one ed-reform gap that appears to be closing, with the gap closure no doubt undesired:  “The national rate of charter school closures is notably gaining on the rate of charter school openings view article arw

School-choice supporters won legislative passage of a 2017 law to expand Arizona's voucher program, but some now aren't sure whether they want the law's fate in the hands of a voters' referendum. The expansion supporters' unease stems from a 20-year-old state constitutional provision under which voter approval of the expansion law apparently would virtually lock in its provisions, including a 30,000-student enrollment cap, the Arizona Capitol Times reported . "If Prop. 305 passes, it could hinder our ability to make crucial improvements to the ESA (Empower Scholarship Accounts) program," said Kim Martinez, a spokeswoman for the pro-voucher American Federation for Children. view article arw

If there were any lingering doubts about the growing strength of charter schools in our state, KIPP Texas' move to consolidate its individual networks into one school district should dispel them. By merging networks in Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and Austin, KIPP becomes one of the largest charter school networks in Texas, with over 25,000 students in 50 schools this past academic year. It's clear that charters aren't going away. And though this newspaper supports traditional public schools as a pillar of this country's foundation, we also support effective organizations like KIPP that give parents choices for their kids. There's no question charters, which started in Texas in 1995 as an experiment to foster public-school innovation, have become the first-choice option for a growing number of parents. IDEA Public Schools and International Leadership of Texas are among those recently expanding their North Texas networks.  The Texas Education Agency reports there are more than 700 charter schools across the state. Advocates say over 130,000 Texas children are on charter waiting lists. view article arw

Tennessee was one of the first states to win a grant from Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top. It won $500 million. It placed its biggest bet on an idea called the Achievement School District. The big plan was to have the state take over the state’s lowest performing schools and do a turnaround. The ASD was launched in 2012 with much fanfare. Its leader promised that the lowest performing schools would be turned around within five years. Reformers loved the idea so much that it was copied in Nevada, North Carolina, and a few other states. Most of the schools were converted to charter schools. As Gary Rubinstein explains here, the ASD was a complete flop. view article arw

Spanish Schoolhouse will open a new location Aug. 1 at 26133 Kuykendahl Road, Tomball. view article arw

Dollar for dollar, the beleaguered movement to bring charter schools to Washington state has had no bigger champion than billionaire Bill Gates. The Microsoft co-founder gave millions of dollars to see a charter school law approved despite multiple failed ballot referendums. And his private foundation not only helped create the Washington State Charter Schools Association, but has at times contributed what amounts to an entire year's worth of revenues for the 5-year-old charter advocacy group. view article arw

Panola Early College High School and Panola Charter High School are now accepting transfers and enrolling for grades 8-12 for the 2018-19 school year. view article arw

Darcie Cimarusti writes in Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet about the calculated devastation done to Indiana’s once-great public schools by privatizers, chief among them Mike Pence, former governor Mitch Daniels, David Harris of the Mind Trust, and Stand for Children (which long ago abandoned its credentials as a progressive organization).  Darcie is a school board member in New Jersey, an education blogger, parent, and part-time staff at the Network for Public Education, where her work has been invaluable. view article arw

KIPP Public Schools, individual district charter networks operating across Texas, are consolidating into a single statewide school district. The four charter networks in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio asked the Texas Education Agency to close their individual charters so they could convert into one district charter, KIPP Texas Public Schools. The statewide organization will oversee all 52 KIPP charter campuses and 27,700 students in Texas. Of those, Austin educates 5,000 students in 10 campuses. view article arw

After being at risk of closure for failing to meet academic standards for four consecutive years, Mendez Middle School will get a new shot at a turn around. The Texas Education Agency has approved the Austin school district’s choice in a partner to help save the 700-student middle school in Southeast Austin, which could have faced state sanctions if it failed again this year. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency approved a partnership last week between Mendez Middle School and the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Coalition to help improve the struggling school's accountability rating. TEA has rated Mendez "Improve­ment Required" for four years in a row, and a fifth could result in the Austin Independent School Dis­trict closing the school down (2017-18 ratings are expected in August). To avoid that fate, AISD invoked a new law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017 that pauses the rating system at a specific campus for two years and provides additional funding to the school (in Mendez's case, about $1,900 per student), if the district partners with a state-approved group to develop a "turnaround plan" for the campus. view article arw

The merger will make KIPP Texas Public Schools, as the organization will now be known, the second-largest charter school network in Texas, behind IDEA Public Schools. The four KIPP networks served about 25,000 students last year in about 50 schools throughout the Houston, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio areas. view article arw

On Wednesday, the four regional KIPP networks in Texas announced their merger to form KIPP Texas Public Schools, a single statewide nonprofit that will serve 27,700 students — 25 percent of KIPP’s national student population — across 52 campuses in Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.  The statewide network will be led by CEO Sebha Ali, former superintendent of KIPP Houston. She anticipates new opportunities for growth and innovation, but said that major initiatives weren’t necessarily imminent. view article arw

The Democratic Party in Colorado and California have passed resolutions attacking Democrats for Education Reform as a phony, corporate-controlled front organization and demanded that it stop sullying the Democratic Party by using its name. In New York, where hedge fund money flows freely to DFER, it continues to be a political player, having no popular political base but owning corporate politicians who wants its campaign contributions. It has filled the vacuum left by the collapse of the phony “Families for Excellent Schools,”also funded and owned by billionaires who never set foot in a public school. view article arw

Trinity University is creating a school incubator program with the potential to launch five new charter schools — or charter-like district schools — a year. The program joins a growing list of initiatives that has the potential to foster charter/district collaboration in San Antonio. view article arw

There are at least 760 charter schools operating in Texas as of the 2016-2017 school year, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Listen Listening...48:52 Charter schools are privately run, publicly funded education institutions for school-age students grades K-12. State law gives the Texas education commissioner the authority to grant charters contingent to state board approval. view article arw

Currently, 9% of American students attend private and religious schools; 6% attend charter schools; and 85% attend public schools. The public does not realize that every dollar spent for a charter or a voucher is a dollar subtracted from public schools. No state has added extra dollars for charters or vouchers. They simply take money away from public schools, which most students attend view article arw

A charter school affiliated with the same Texas nonprofit that faced criticism over its shelters for unaccompanied immigrant children could soon add hundreds of those kids to its attendance rolls, which would mean an influx of state dollars. Austin-based Southwest Key already is to receive nearly half a billion dollars this fiscal year as one of the nation's largest contractors to shelter immigrant children. Now a charter network founded by the nonprofit could qualify for millions in state funding by educating those kids. view article arw

Freedom to innovate is the beauty of the charter school concept. But we should always be mindful of the ugly side. Here in Houston, a public charter school superintendent’s greed went unchecked to the point that she was able to achieve a luxury lifestyle the typical public school schmucks could only dream of: She and her husband owned a 7,000-square-foot Houston mansion, traveled in a private jet, and donned high-end clothing and jewelry. A federal judge on Friday compared the couple to villains from a Charles Dickens novel who steal from the poor. Varnett charter school founders Marian Annette Cluff and Alsie Cluff Jr. were sentenced to 10 years and 3 years, in prison, respectively, for running an embezzlement and tax scheme that bilked low-income parents, as reported by Chronicle reporter Jacob Carpenter. view article arw

Diane Ravitch is a historian of American education at New York University. In 1988, teachers union leader Albert Shanker had an idea: What if teachers were allowed to create a school within a school, where they could develop innovative ways to teach dropouts and unmotivated students? The teachers would get the permission of their colleagues and the local school board to open their school, which would be an R&D lab for the regular public school. These experimental schools, he said, would be called “charter schools.” Five years later, in 1993, Shanker publicly renounced his proposal. The idea had been adopted by businesses seeking profits, he said, and would be used, like vouchers, to privatize public schools and destroy teachers unions. He wrote that “vouchers, charter schools, for-profit management schemes are all quick fixes that won’t fix anything.” view article arw

A new nonprofit board headed by former Waco Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. has been named to oversee Waco Independent School District’s new in-district charter system. The in-district charter also has a new name: Transformation Waco. In May, the Texas Education Agency gave local nonprofit Prosper Waco full autonomy over Waco’s five underperforming schools by forming the in-district charter partnership between the school district and the nonprofit. view article arw

Joyce Foreman has seen how public charter school growth has affected Dallas ISD in recent years, how a new campus can starve an existing neighborhood school, and how the spread of charters has withered the district's student enrollment.  Now, the DISD trustee wants the city to do something about it.  At a Dallas City Council committee meeting this week, Foreman asked the council for help, requesting a city-commissioned study on the overall impacts of charter schools on their communities. She also asked for a moratorium on new charters in her trustee district, which covers southwest Dallas. view article arw

Jan Resseger writes that ECOT—the $1 Billion black hole of Ohio charters—has collapsed, but charters continue to defund public schools that most children attend. “Because of the way Ohio funds charter schools, not only the state but also the local school district loses money when a student leaves for a charter school. In Ohio the money follows the child to the charter right out of the general fund of the school district in which the child resides. Many districts lose more money to charters than they receive in state aid. As the Columbus Dispatch‘s Jim Siegel reports: “Ohio does not directly fund charter schools, instead subtracting the money from individual districts based on where a charter student lives.  view article arw

Comparing them to villains from a Charles Dickens novel who steal from the poor, a federal judge on Friday sentenced Varnett charter school founders Marian Annette Cluff and Alsie Cluff Jr. to 10 years and 3 years in prison, respectively, for running an embezzlement and tax scheme that bilked low-income parents. ollowing a nearly-five-hour hearing, during which victims lamented their financial losses and the Cluffs pleaded for mercy, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon sentenced the married couple to the maximum sentences outlined in their plea agreements and ordered $4.4 million in restitution. view article arw

A new charter school, set to open for the 2018-2019 school year, sets its goals on language, leadership, service and physical fitness. International Leadership of Texas -- ILTexas -- will open its 17th campus in College Station in August, and had its final informational meeting Thursday at the Brazos Center. Around 100 interested parents attended the meeting to ask questions of school officials. Among the topics discussed was Spanish and Mandarin Chinese taught along with English at the free public charter school and an emphasis on service. view article arw

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath has approved applications from two new Houston-area charter school operators, which are planning to open elementary campuses south of downtown Houston.  Morath gave the green light Monday to Bloom Academy Charter School and Réve Preparatory Charter School, which both aim to open two campuses within the next several years. The two networks were founded by fellows from Building Excellent Schools, a national nonprofit that trains future charter school leaders. view article arw