Harmony Public Schools will increase teacher salaries by $3,500 to $8,000 starting next school year, exceeding the minimum requirements of the new salary schedule signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott last week. Every Harmony teacher will receive a base salary increase between $3,500 and $5,000, according to a press release. Teachers with more than five years of classroom experience will receive an additional $1,000, and teachers with more than 10 years of experience will receive an extra $2,000. view article arw

When you have a few successes, you tell everyone. When you succeed every day, you don’t tell anyone, because it is expected. These sentences signify the differences within the State’s “dual education system” that is comprised of State approved, privately-operated charter schools (“charters”) and community-based school districts. Charters are privately operated schools that are approved by the State to use taxpayer dollars to serve students in local communities. Most charters include the words academy, college preparatory, international, innovation or excellence in their names. The reality is that charters are elementary, middle and high schools that are subject to the same academic standards as local community- based school districts. Visiting with various friends, parents, neighbors, taxpayers and elected officials, I have concluded that the average adult has a minimal understanding of the State approved, charter schools operating in local communities. Many have wrongfully believed that charters were constructed and operated by local school districts or they were private schools that were not funded by local taxpayers. view article arw

The Texas State Board of Education voted on Friday to reject a request to open a chain of charter schools run by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).  The Texas Commissioner of Education had submitted 24 proposals to the board for opening various charter schools throughout the state. One of the proposed school chains, Royal Public Schools, was being headed by Soner Tarim. view article arw

The founder of Harmony Public Schools, one of the largest charter school networks in Texas, wants to open a slate of new charter schools, called Royal Public Schools, in Austin and Houston by August 2020.  The State Board of Education is expected to vote Thursday and Friday on whether to approve a charter for Royal Public Schools, which projects to enroll 2,390 students in the Burnet Middle School area in North Austin over a 10-year period.  Charter schools, privately run public schools, are often seen as competition for traditional school districts because they both vie for the same students and education dollars. Enrollment determines state funding. view article arw

Dorothy Marstallar knew at some point Texas lawmakers would have to tackle the seemingly insurmountable public school funding problem. She said she just didn't know how or when they would do it. As superintendent of the EOAC Waco Charter School on North 25th Street, she knows how pricey education is. view article arw

OHIO:  Bill Phillis, former State Deputy Superintendent, watches over school spending and misspending in Ohio, in hopes that one day there will be equitable and adequate funding of public schools, instead of the current regime of school choice, waste, fraud, and abuse. view article arw

School’s out

June 1108:30 AM

Repost!  Charters were supposed to save public education. Why are Americans turning against them? he charter school movement is in trouble. In late December, the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times observed that the charter movement in the Windy City was “in hot water and likely to get hotter.” Among more than a dozen aspirants for mayor, “only a handful” expressed any support for charter schools, and the last two standing for the April 2 runoff election both said they wanted to haltcharter school expansion. view article arw

Mark Larson, KIPP Texas’ Chief External Officer and KIPP San Antonio Public Schools founder, will leave the charter school network at the end of June to join City Education Partners as executive director in July.  City Education Partners, or CEP, is a nonprofit that funds and helps coordinate education programs throughout the city including educator recruiting program Educate 210, Relay Graduate School of Education’s lab schools, KIPP, IDEA Public Schools, and Advanced Learning Academy. view article arw

Five Generation Twenty-Four charter applicants have successfully completed a final step of the state’s charter application process allowing them to begin operation in Texas for the 2020-2021 school year once any contingencies are met. read more arw

Gary Rubinstein reports that U.S. News & World Report altered the way it measures “the best high schools,” and charters suffered. Many got top rankings in the past despite their high attrition rates and demographics towards whites and Asians. The new formula is harder to game.  Gary knows that the annual exercise in ranking the best high schools is inherently fraudulent. What matters most can’t be measured, and what is considered “best” usually means having students from affluent families. view article arw

Join us in a respite from the daily drumbeat of news to wish the great American poet and champion of our nation’s ideals, Walt Whitman, a happy 200th birthday. We do this not just because Whitman was an editorial writer like us before he changed poetry forever with the 1855 publication of his free-verse masterpiece Leaves of Grass. No, it strikes us instead that Whitman is so relevant now, the still-singing voice of American beauty and wonder from the time of our greatest division. view article arw

The bus was spotted driving erratically and several people called about it, according to law enforcement sources. We're told a parent was able to stop the driver. view article arw

Debra Perdue shepherded 15 students into her third-grade classroom at Texas Serenity Academy on a recent Friday for a lesson on the parts of speech. “Don’t hold back hugs from me,” Perdue told the children as they filed by. “Everybody get in here.” view article arw

A special board meeting to address the future of Justice Alma Wilson Seeworth Academy amid findings of "gross neglect and noncompliance" has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, The Oklahoman has learned. The meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, was canceled, said Sherry Kishore, the school's interim superintendent. Friday's meeting will be at the school's north campus, 12600 N Kelley, according to a meeting notice filed with the Oklahoma County Clerk's office Wednesday morning. view article arw

The BASIS chain of charter schools — schools that are privately run but publicly funded — no longer occupy most of the top spots. BASIS is a corporation that owns and operates both public charter and private schools, and its schools consistently place at the highest end of the high school rankings. Last year, BASIS charter high schools, none of which had more than 100 seniors, took the first through sixth positions on the list. This year, they are more dispersed throughout the top 100. view article arw

A journey that started in 2016 is coming to an end for Longview ISD as the district finally has received Senate Bill 1882 approval. During his report at Monday’s board meeting, Superintendent James Wilcox confirmed the final approval from the Texas Education Agency. view article arw

Koby Levin, reporter for Chalkbeat, tried to attend meetings of the board of 10 charter schools in Detroit. It was challenging, to say the least. When parents have an issue with their child’s school, there’s at least one place where they’re guaranteed a hearing on anything from school finance to student discipline: a school board meeting. Yet in Detroit, a city with an infamously troubled school landscape, dozens of charter school board meetings are hard to find or poorly attended — if they happen at all. view article arw

Chalkbeat reports that a parent has filed a federal complaint against Success Academy for releasing her daughter’s records to the media. A former Success Academy parent filed a federal privacy complaint Thursday claiming the charter network violated her daughter’s rights by releasing her education records to a reporter, including notes from psychologists and her special education learning plan. The complaint — which is unlikely to result in consequences for Success — comes in response to a Chalkbeat story published Saturday about Jazmiah Vasquez, a seven-year-old student with autism who has not been in school for a year and a half. view article arw

Brag About KIPP Pleasant Grove

May 1308:25 AM

KIPP Pleasant Grove school made sure their students felt supported and loved for STAAR testing. Wayne Carter is in the Classroom at Kipp Pleasant Grove. view article arw

Ahandful of high schools from the Rio Grande Valley repeatedly appear among the most challenging high schools in the nation. Such distinctions seemed improbable in 2000 when JoAnn Gama and Tom Torkelson applied for a charter to open up a new elementary and middle school in the region. Nineteen years and 45,000 students later, the fast-growing network and its tough-talking leadership have garnered both accolades and resistance, being dubbed both a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” by the Obama White House and a “Texas Sized Destroy Public Education IDEA” by anti-charter advocates. To all the skeptics, the network answers with results: 100 percent college acceptance rates in schools where at least 85 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. view article arw

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal beamed with pride in April 2012, as he signed into law one of the most sweeping school choice expansions in the nation.  The law was lauded by the American Federation for Children, then chaired by future Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and other school choice advocates. Like Jindal, they said it would free countless lower-income children from the worst public schools by allowing them to use state tax dollars in the form of vouchers to pay tuition at private schools, where they would ostensibly receive a better education. view article arw

Valerie Strauss investigated the strange case of the charter school that was approved to open in rural Alabama, over the objections of the local mayor and despite the rejection of its proposal by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. The deed for the building is held by a Utah holding company. The principal is described as “Amy O,” with no last name.  view article arw

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Dr. M.L Garza Gonzalez Charter School is making some changes in the next academic year and will now teach grades pre-k-eighth despite one woman who is ensuring the curriculum continues to grow.  Some residents would call Dr. M.L Garza Gonzalez Charter School a hidden gem in Corpus Christi, but superintendent Dee Dee Bernal is ready to make it shine. view article arw

Jan Resseger has another brilliant article about the charter school strategy of privatization paid for by federal funding. Betsy DeVos wants to cut most of the programs in the Department of Education but has asked for an increase of charter school funding, from $440 million to $500 million a year. This year she used that funding to give $82 million to KIPP and $116 million to the IDEA charter chain, which is known for high attrition rates. She cites an article by Jeff Bryant, a co-author of the NPE study of the federal Charter School Program, which concluded that about one of three charter schools funded by the federal government never opens or closes soon after opening. In some states, the failed charters were even more than 1/3. view article arw

Last week charter school officials faced some hard questions from members of the House Public Education Committee on why charters should be allowed to reject admission to students because of discipline reasons. (Traditional public schools can’t.) Also part of the hearing’s focus was the significantly higher number of expulsions and some types of suspensions in charters versus public districts. view article arw

One of the ways that even those who skillfully expose and critique endless charter school problems still miss the mark and (un)wittingly support the destruction of public education through more school privatization schemes is by obsessing over how to improve disturbingly low levels of transparency and accountability in the charter school sector, instead of demanding that no public funds or assets be funneled to charter schools in the first place. This shows that the world outlook guiding such writers and investigators is not free of the grip of capital-centered thinking and categories, which is hindering progress. view article arw

Over the next decade, Spring ISD is expected to lose more than 1,600 students, according to a recent demographics study conducted by Templeton Demographics. Demographers attribute the loss largely in part to the growing presence of charter schools.  “[Spring ISD’s number of students leaving the district] jumped up about two years ago, and that’s because of charter schools, frankly,” said Rocky Gardiner, director of School District Consulting with Templeton Demographics, during the Spring ISD board of trustees workshop Feb. 7. “So that hasn’t changed but it has leveled off, so we think that’s a sign that things are getting a little bit better.” view article arw

More than 4,000 parents whose children attended the Houston-based Varnett charter school network between 2007 and 2014 could receive restitution payments totaling more than $600,000 nearly a year after the district’s founders were convicted of siphoning millions from the schools, federal officials announced Tuesday.  Parents could be eligible for $110.02 per child for every year they attended one of the district’s three campuses. For example, if a family sent three children to the school for three years, it could be eligible for $990.06. view article arw

Three interconnected charter school networks will remain open next year despite scrutiny of payments and loans totaling at least $17 million to a company owned by the charters’ highest-ranking employee.  HISD board members voted 5-4 to authorize renewal of the district’s contracts with the three charter networks, drawing applause from roughly 50 students, parents and teachers from the school in attendance. If trustees voted against the authorization, the three networks — Energized For Excellence, Energized For STEM and Inspired For Excellence academies — likely would have shuttered operations and displaced about 4,000 students ahead of the 2019-2020 school year. view article arw

Carol Burris is the executive director of the Network for Public Education. She is a lifelong educator, first a teacher of Spanish, then an award-winning principal of a high school in New York. She writes here to explain briefly why charter schools are unnecessary and are not public schools.  “When I was a high school principal, I also ran an alternative school called The Greenhouse. It was small–its average enrollment was 17 students. The students were older–juniors or seniors–who were credit-deficient or who, for personal reasons, needed an alternative setting. view article arw

Alabama:  Woodland Prep is a charter school horror story — and it hasn’t even been built yet.  Located in rural Washington County, Woodland Prep, which will open as a K-7 school this fall and add a grade level each year, is everything state leaders assured us could never happen under Alabama’s charter school laws.   Its land is owned by a shady Utah holding company. Its building is owned by a for-profit Arizona company. It will be managed by a for-profit Texas company that doesn’t employ a single Alabamian. It will pay the head of that management company around $300,000 per year — up front. view article arw

The Houston Gateway Academy's board of directors voted Monday to indefinitely suspend Superintendent Richard Garza and IT Specialist Ahmad Bokaiyan after the two were indicted on federal embezzlement charges. In a statement, attorneys for the school wrote that the board and others first learned on Friday that Garza and Bokaiyan were accused of siphoning more than $250,000 from the charter school network in 2014. view article arw

When the yellow-scarf-wearing coalition of “school choice” supporters held their biennial rally at the Texas Capitol this January, the crowd was smaller than in years past. One reason: Some of the state’s largest charter districts had pulled out of the fanfare that frosty winter day, deciding to distance themselves from the advocates pushing for private school vouchers or similar programs. "We backed out," Mark DiBella, CEO of the Houston-based Yes Prep charter, said plainly. "I basically wanted to put as much distance between us and vouchers as possible given the nature of the feeling in Austin." view article arw

When the yellow scarf-wearing coalition of “school choice” supporters held their biennial rally at the Texas Capitol this January, the crowd was smaller than in years past. One reason: Some of the state’s largest charter districts had pulled out of the fanfare that frosty winter day, deciding to distance themselves from the advocates pushing for private school vouchers or similar programs. view article arw

Charter school fiascos in the news provide backdrop for legislative hearings tomorrow - Tomorrow the House Public Education Committee will hear a slew of billsaddressing charter schools, with many of the proposals aimed at ending the special advantages charter schools have, as well as ones aimed at making sure charters are open and transparent in their governance and finances. view article arw