Claycomb Associates, Architects

Sam Houston State University will launch a charter school program this fall by opening eight elementary schools in the Greater Houston area. The primary purpose of the charter school program is for SHSU student teachers to be able to complete their practicums under the supervision of certified educators, charter school Superintendent Ronny Knox said. “Our charter school program is the only one like it in the state of Texas,” Knox said. “Our main goal is to provide a quality education to the students we serve, but we also want to be model classrooms where our student teachers can excel while offering another free education option.” view article arw

Food safety and health records released by the city's Metropolitan Health District and the Texas Department of Agriculture paint a concerning picture about conditions at the San Antonio School for Inquiry and Creativity (SASIC) District's charter school campuses. Last August, the health department received a complaint that a girl's bathroom at SASIC High School had human waste everywhere because of remodeling and that meals were being served in a classroom. Then in January, after a complaint of rats where children ate at the SASIC Prep Academy, a health inspector found a possible rodent entry hole, missing base boards and rodent bait traps inside the kitchen pantry. view article arw

Bills in the Texas House and Senate would authorize state facilities funding for charter schools. Charters are public schools whose students are subject to the same academic accountability standards as those in traditional public schools. But they don't get state funding to pay for buildings and facility maintenance. New Braunfels Republican Sen. Donna Campbell is proposing to shrink those funding gaps. She's also a leading proponent of "school choice" voucher plans seeking to offer public money for students attending private schools. view article arw

In 2001, Enron rocked the financial world by declaring bankruptcy in the wake of a now infamous accounting scandal. Within months, shares in the energy and commodities giant – the seventh largest corporation in the country at the time – plunged to penny stock levels. Thousands of employees lost their jobs. Investors lost billions.Less than 20 years later, the same type of fraud and mismanagement is happening in the charter school sector, says Preston Green, a professor of educational leadership and law at UConn’s Neag School of Education. In a forthcoming paper in the Indiana Law Journal, Green and his co-authors examine how charter school officials have engaged in Enron-like related-party transactions to divert charter school funding away from students and into their own pockets. The paper also flags steps that gatekeepers can take to prevent such abuses.   view article arw

With Betsy DeVos as the secretary of education and several education bills in the Texas Legislature, the debate about charter schools is in the spotlight. As someone who has been researching schools for more than 20 years, I can tell you that regardless of which side of the debate you may fall, pitting charter schools against public schools does not lead to better education for anyone. view article arw

With the Senate confirmation of school choice super-advocate Betsy DeVos as secretary of education this week, backers of the school choice bill in the Texas Senate have a strong advocate in Washington.  Backed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Senate Bill 3 — its low number indicates the priority the lieutenant governor gives it — will face powerful headwinds in the House.  The Texas House of Representatives has for years been a graveyard for voucher bills, which in essence is what SB 3 is, despite the understandable avoidance of that word by its backers. view article arw

Sara Shams said she felt like a stalker as she staked out the emerging KIPP charter school being built next to her house.  Any time she would peer out her window and see a KIPP staff member, she would rush over and pummel him or her with questions about when the school would open and if it could take her three children. Shams' children had been on a wait list for five years by the time the finishing touches were put on the school that had popped up next door. view article arw

Dallas-area charter school families had a united message for Texas lawmakers: Their campuses need more money. As National School Choice week wrapped up on Friday, parents, students and staff from several charter schools gathered 5,000 handwritten letters that will be sent to Austin encouraging legislators to boost funding. Paige Laserna graduated from a Harmony Public Schools campus and is now a senior at the University of  Texas-Arlington. She said Harmony teachers and counselors prepared her to be successful in college with their relentless dedication. The school's smaller size allowed teachers to know each student, she said. (paywalled) view article arw

In the year since the Sam Houston Charter School was authorized by the Texas State University System Board of Regents, a lot of headway has been made to develop a system that will benefit both the students of Sam Houston State University, as well as the elementary-aged students who will attend the open-enrollment schools. view article arw

GaryRubinstein writes here about the myth of YES Prep. It is run by the husband of TFA’s CEO. Wendy Kopp wrote in her last book that the YES Prep charter chain had cracked the code and was showing that every single student was capable of excellence. view article arw

Charter schools have become a central feature of the school “choice” movement, itself a key part of corporate school reform, which seeks to operate public schools as if they were businesses rather than civic institutions. There are now thousands of charters — which are publicly funded but independently operated, sometimes by for-profit companies — enrolling a few million students in 43 states and the District of Columbia who make up about 6 percent of public school students across the country.  While they are a small minority of the public school student population, outsized controversy surrounds charter schools in many communities, especially in states where lax oversight has resulted in financial irregularities and traditional public schools are negatively affected.  view article arw

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A teenager grips the steering wheel and presses pedals. He sees wind-blown snow in front of him as he approaches the runway. A video game? No, George Radashaw is at a public charter school, simulating a flight in a Cessna airplane.  "I've always loved aviation," the 17 year-old said, keeping his eyes focused on panels of high-tech instruments. "It started at 3. I saw an airplane, and I wanted to fly them ever since." view article arw

The Manor Independent School District wants the community to know it’s working to invest in them. Next year, they’re rolling out big changes for the campuses, bringing specialty programs to elementary and middle schools. In addition to creating more New Tech schools, they’ll be enhancing fine arts programs and applying for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program for some campuses. Students will be able to start the programs young and continue them through high school. view article arw

When it’s practice time for the YES Prep West Marvels track team, students at the 6-12 charter school in Houston’s Chinatown neighborhood run in the school parking lot. That’s because YES Prep West doesn’t have a track — the school is located inside a converted old warehouse. Other YES Prep schools occupy a repurposed church, a renovated Kroger grocery store and an office building. Two more conversions, including a hospital, are planned for this winter. view article arw