Claycomb Associates, Architects

Dallas school officials insist that the youngest learners would benefit from a deal that converts some nonprofit preschool classrooms into charter campuses that work within the district. DISD already works with various preschool providers for some prekindergarten classes, and making them in-district charter schools would allow them to get more state funding, administrators said at a Thursday board briefing. But calling anything in DISD a "charter" has tempers flaring. Critics say that's just a first step to privatizing public education. Trustees spent nearly three hours heatedly debating just how DISD would use a new state law aimed at spurring charter partnerships. view article arw

Attracted by the prospect of more autonomy and better state funding under a new law that occasionally has led to controversy, principals of as many as 10 campuses in the San Antonio Independent School District are considering partnerships with outside organizations. view article arw

Call it what you want, but a charter school is a charter school, and critics of private partnerships with traditional districts are not happy with plans to enter into such partnerships.  They fear any move by a district to hand over school operations to an outside entity amounts to the "privatization" of children's education and opens the door to risky experimentation.  But school officials in Dallas and Fort Worth insist they want to use a new Texas law that encourages in-district charters to funnel more state money to their schools by partnering with universities or nonprofits. view article arw

Former leaders of the Harmony and YES Prep public schools networks each want to start new charter ventures in the Houston area, potentially enrolling thousands of students. Organizations led by Soner Tarim, the co-founder of Harmony Public Schools, and Jason Bernal, the one-time CEO of YES Prep Public Schools, are among the 14 Houston-area nonprofits seeking to obtain approval to create charter networks in the region, according to applications submitted to the Texas Education Agency. view article arw

Several Texas lawmakers have decided it’s a problem that public charter schools don’t operate exactly like traditional schools. But isn’t that the point? The charter school bargain — the very foundation of charter schools — is that they have the autonomy and freedom to do things differently in exchange for results. Texas charter schools are keeping their end of this bargain and are a valuable addition to the public education landscape. view article arw

Several Texas lawmakers have decided it’s a problem that public charter schools don’t operate exactly like traditional schools. But isn’t that the point? The charter school bargain — the very foundation of charter schools — is that they have the autonomy and freedom to do things differently in exchange for results. Texas charter schools are keeping their end of this bargain and are a valuable addition to the public education landscape.  view article arw

A Dallas ISD trustee is calling on city council to put a moratorium on new charter schools in the southern part of the city. She believes the area is already saturated with charters, which is hurting neighborhood schools. The Dallas City Council Committee directed staff to study how charter schools are impacting the area and the schools around them. According to one council member, the city has the right not to issue permits if a charter would hurt a neighborhood school. view article arw

Legislation introduced by an influential Republican state senator would require charter schools to disclose more about their finances. But the bill contains a large loophole that would allow the state’s biggest chains like Basis Charter Schools and Great Hearts Academies to avoid revealing how they spend their money. State Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, said Senate Bill 1394 would accomplish the biggest reform to charter schools since they were created by the Arizona Legislature in 1994. “ It’s an enormous amount of progress, and this is not my last stop,” she said. view article arw

On Jan. 23 Texas American Federation of Teachers called on state lawmakers to put a moratorium on any new charter schools in Texas until reforms are made in the charter system. Ray McMurrey from Texas American Federation of Teachers (TAFT) and Starlee Coleman from Texas Charter School Association (TCSA) debated the merits of the proposal Sunday on the State of Texas politics program. McMurrey said TAFT is not asking to ban charter schools, rather take a step back to look at the impact of charter schools. "We believe that charter schools are hurting public schools and that is evident through several factors," McMurrey said. view article arw

Hours after about 3,500 charter school supporters rallied at Los Angeles Unified’s headquarters, the school board approved a resolution Tuesday calling for a moratorium on new charters. Only the state can change charter law, so the 5-1 vote directs the district to ask state leaders to study potential changes to the law and to impose a temporary moratorium on new charter schools in the district while the eight- to 10-month study is conducted. view article arw

The Longview (Texas) News-Journal doesn’t understand why Longview needs charter schools. A chain of 7 is opening.  But the answer, the newspaper says, is money.  The charters will get more money than the public schools. After all, they need more money for field trips, for international field trips. What? view article arw

The Longview ISD application to create a charter school network within the district is in greater peril than was described last week. The Texas Education Agency had been scheduled to let the district know last Friday whether its application to enter a charter/district partnership with a nonprofit charter would be approved or not. view article arw

Peter Greene noticed that Reformers have turned ttheir attention to rural communities, where they have a hard time getting established. Imagine a guy or woman from New York or Chicago or New Orleans arriving in a small town or a rural community and telling the locals what they need to “save” their children from the local schools. Greene explains why their pitch usually falls on deaf ears and why they don’t welcome corporate chains. view article arw

Thanks to a proclamation from Gov. Abbot, Jan. 20-26 has been officially declared School Choice Week in Texas. Gov. Abbot's proclamation joins him with more than a dozen governors and hundreds of city and county leaders nationwide who have issued similar proclamations. School choice supporters have planned 4,927 events and activities across Texas to raise awareness about the educational opportunities parents have, or want to have, for their kids. These events include rallies, roundtable discussions, coffeehouse meet-ups, festivals, school fairs, and more. More than 40,000 events have been independently planned for the week nationwide, raising awareness about opportunity in education. view article arw

Katie Perkins picks up her grandkids every day from Fehl-Price Elementary. After school, they have their daily routines. "We get our homework, and then today is Wednesday, so we have to go to church," said Perkins. She's learned that the upcoming school year could be a little different for them. If approved, Fehl-Price teachers would be working with charter operators. view article arw

The Beaumont school board approved to create a partnership with charter operators to run three schools in danger of closing due to 'low performance'. The school district had over 30 programs express interest in taking over Fehl-Price elementary, Jones-Clark Elementary and Smith Middle School. view article arw

The Beaumont school board is considering allowing three of its campuses to be run by charter schools. The Beaumont Independent School District board will be considering the option at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday at 6 p.m.If approved the district will enter into an "SB1882 partnership" and allow two charter schools to run Fehl-Price and Jones-Clark Elementary Schools as well as Smith Middle School according to items on the meeting agenda. view article arw

In 2013, I published a post with this headline: “Why charter schools need better oversight.” The author of the piece, Jeff Bryant, wrote: There are undoubtedly wonderful charter schools in existence, and Americans generally have a favorable opinion of charters, but hardly a week goes by without news of a scandal or a study tarnishing their image. ...  view article arw

Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat here describes the spread of the gospel of the “portfolio model” of schooling.In his article, Barnum shows how Indianapolis has fallen hook, line, and sinker for privatization of its public schools.  I first heard the term used by Paul Hill of the Center for the Reinvention of Public Education at the University of Washington, a leading thinker in the privatization movement.  The basic idea is that school boards should treat their schools as if they were a stock portfolio. Some will be public schools run by the district; others will be privately managed. If a school gets low scores, close it and open a new one.  view article arw

For some reason, Texas is now being besieged by charter operators, who see good pickings there and who want to act fast before another blue wave washes away the supporters of school choice, as the November blue wave washed away supporters of vouchers. The Texas legislature cut deeply into school funding after the 2008 recession and never restored what it cut. The legislature just doesn’t seem to care about funding public school, only charter and (someday) vouchers, even though 90% of the state’s children are in public schools. Someone should ask the Legislature about what they have in mind for the generation now in school. Do they want them to be productive citizens? Do they want them to be creators, innovators, doctors, scientists, artists, and engineers? Or do they expect those millions of children to be unskilled laborers? view article arw

Lorena Garcia, assistant superintendent for human resources and support services at Mission CISD, sparked a lively debate over the level of support state lawmakers are providing charter schools. Garcia brought up the subject of charters in a Q&A about public school finance at a luncheon held at the Cimarron Club in Mission. “There does not seem to be much support for public education by the legislature. In addition to that there is a lot of talk about support for vouchers and private schools,” Garcia said, after hearing a presentation on public school finance. view article arw

Carol Burris explains here why charter schools can never be reformed. Here is reason number one. 1. Freedom from regulations and oversight through public governance has resulted in persistent and undeniable patterns of waste and fraud. For the past year, the Network for Public Education, the nonprofit advocacy group of which I am executive director, has been tracking charter school scandals, posting news accounts here. Frankly, we have been shocked by the frequency and seriousness of scandals that are the result of greed, lack of oversight or incompetence. The independent California-based watchdog group, In the Public Interest, estimated alleged and confirmed fraud in California’s charter sector has topped $149 million, a figure it describes as “only the tip of the iceberg.” view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 70 students walked out of Austin charter schools programmed by the non-profit Southwest Key to attend a school board meeting Monday. East Austin College Prep, programmed by Southwest Key as part of its Promesa Public Schools program, faces a budget shortfall of $550,000 according to board members and the Superintendent at the meeting. The students walked out of class to support a plan by the Superintendent Jaime Huerta and to criticize the CEO of Southwest Key, Juan Sanchez, for having a salary around $1.5 million."That is more than the CEO of the Red Cross," said Yamilet Perez, a student protest organizer. The root of the problem for East Austin College Prep is its funding plan was built on having 800 students but board members explained at the meeting they have just more than 630.  Superintendent Huerta proposed to "vacate" most of the MLK campus and possibly rent the space out in order to stave off employee  view article arw

KIPP Texas plans on opening a new high school in San Antonio next school year.  The public charter school network said KIPP Somos Collegiate will open with a 160-student ninth-grade class and add a grade each year. The school will open at 731 Fredericksburg Road, just east of Beacon Hill Academy, but will eventually relocate to a permanent facility. While no location is finalized, the school will likely stay within Loop 410 on the Northwest Side, the school's founding principal said. view article arw

Repost! - K12 INC., THE controversial for-profit virtual charter school operator, plans to pivot its entire platform to career education and has laid the groundwork to offer the new programs in 40 states over the next three years.  "This is a pivot, absolutely," says Kevin Chavous, president of academics, policy and schools at K12. "We were the first ones to do the online education in a big way. Now, this is a pivot where we have a laser focus on academics and student growth, but the corresponding focus on [career] gives kids more opportunity than they otherwise wouldn't have. view article arw

Charter schooling has long been buffeted by conflicting pressures: the desire to protect the autonomy that allows an array of diverse and vibrant schools to flourish, and the concern that a lack of oversight will give license to grifters and mediocrities. The crucial task of securing one and protecting against the other has been given to charter school authorizers. Full disclosure, I’ve spent close to a decade serving on the board of directors for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), an outfit charged with promoting quality authorizing. The challenge: “Quality authorizing” can become an excuse for micromanagement. After all, the easiest thing in the world is to insist on one more thing that someone else should do or one more rule that they should follow.  view article arw

The privatization movement used to operate in stealth. It used to pretend to have grassroots support. Those days are over. As the public catches on to the empty promises of the charter industry and its intention to undermine democratic institutions, the charter funders have created a SWAT team to infiltrate targeted cities across the nation, promote charter schools, and buy their school boards. These guys are not the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. They are paid vandals, on a mission to destroy public schools. They are out to destroy not just public schools, but local democracy. They should be ashamed. Usually, it is illegal to buy elections. This so-called City Fund brashly announces that it has raised nearly $200 million—with more on the way—to disrupt public schools and buy elections. How is this legal? view article arw

Trustees for Longview ISD will consider a plan for its charter schools following a public hearing Monday night. The district partnered with nonprofit organization East Texas Advanced Academies in June to operate and manage several campuses. Board members voted Wednesdayto expand the charter roster to seven of the district’s 13 schools. view article arw

I previously reported that Arizona legislator Eddie Farnsworth was making a bundle by selling his for-profit charter chain to a nonprofit charter chain for millions of dollars, and that he had selected the members of the board of the new nonprofit and would get a contract from that board to manage the charter schools. All in all, a triumph of self-dealing.  Now new details have emerged about what a sweet deal this is for Mr. Farnsworth. view article arw

Facing a possible state freeze on the expansion of charter schools and state plans to review those that already exist, students, teachers, faculty and others staged a march through the streets last month to highlight future potential threats. Charter school advocates believe the review may be an excuse to eventually cut back or even do away with character schools in the state. The march started at BelovEd School on Grant Street and went to the Team Walker Center where state officials were taking public input about the future of charter schools, not just in Jersey City and Hudson County, but throughout the state. view article arw

Journalists are told to “follow the money,” and it seems only fair the same adage be applied to education. A new report from the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas does just that, comparing the levels and sources of funding between traditional public schools (TPS) and charter schools in some of our nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Faithfully following the money, the authors finding a whopping $5,835 annual advantage for each TPS student. view article arw

The Unity Charter School suddenly closed, without any advance notice to parents, students, or teachers. Parents at Unity Charter School are having to look for new arrangements for their children after the school suddenly closed Thursday and is being foreclosed on. Parents received an automated message Wednesday evening reporting that there would be no school Thursday, due to circumstances beyond their control. Calls and emails to the school on Thursday received no response. A bank foreclosed on the property for nonpayment on the mortgage. The property will be auctioned off in a few weeks. School leaders had some personal financial issues involving misuse of school funds that turned up in an audit last year, but none rose to the level of criminal acts. view article arw

A nonprofit organization will operate and manage seven Longview ISD campuses after trustees voted Tuesday to modify its charter school partnership. In June, the district partnered with East Texas Advanced Academies, a nonprofit organization registered to Hearne ISD Superintendent Adrain Johnson, to operate and manage charters at several campuses. Longview ISD started exploring the Senate Bill 1882 Innovative Partnership in early January, spokeswoman Elizabeth Ross said. view article arw

Open enrollment charter schools, which last year received up to $2.5 billion in taxpayer funds in Texas, are immune from a law that all public schools must follow, requiring them to make public the terms of important contracts. “Charters are just not held as accountable as we are, and any time they bring up accountability for charters in [the] legislature, there is an element that steps on it,” said Troy Reynolds, an educator and advocate for Texas public schools.  The provision requires that public entities report all contracts that must be approved by a governing board or that are worth more than $1 million. view article arw

Longview ISD trustees will consider adding J.L. Everhart Elementary to the district’s charter school roster this morning.  In June, the district partnered with East Texas Advanced Academies, a nonprofit organization, to operate and manage charters at several campuses.  Trustees also are set to officially transfer existing charters for Bramlette and Ware elementary schools and East Texas Montessori Prep Academy to the nonprofit organization.