Tension is brewing between students, teachers and school leaders at Fort Worth's Academy of Fine Arts. Teachers claim they've been bullied and board members keep resigning, while students protested for more transparency and communication when their principal of 12 years left abruptly.  view article arw

Two days ago, we revealed multiple K12 school closures and a first ever union contract that we estimate will lead K12 to lose money in fiscal 2019 and beyond. Yesterday, we learned of another school closing; we estimate this non-managed school will reduce revenue by another $7 Million and operating income $5 Million.  We were told the school was closing due to its inability to meet academic standards, marking yet another failed chapter in the virtual charter school story.   view article arw

Faced with a $4.4-million restitution bill stemming from an embezzlement case, Varnett charter school founders Marian Cluff and Alsie Cluff Jr. have dropped the list price of their south Houston mansion by $1 million in an effort to sell the estate faster, court records and online listings show.  The Cluffs, a husband-and-wife duo who admitted to embezzling $2.6 million in school-related funds and failing to disclose the money on federal tax returns, are seeking buyers for their six-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot estate as they try to pay back the government and local victims. After originally listing their Riverside Terrace mansion at $3.5 million, the Cluffs gradually have dropped the price to $2.5 million — still the most expensive listing in a 2.5-mile radius, according to the Houston Association of Realtors’ website. view article arw

When I read about the demise of Toys “R” Us in the New York Times, I was reminded of the business books I read to understand the corporate raiders who caused the collapse of many iconic American businesses. Michael Milken, junk bond king and founder of the online charter chain K12 Inc., bought control of undervalued businesses, broke them up into parts, kept the profitable parts, discarded the unprofitable parts, and loaded them up with debt. The investors made money but the company disappeared under a mountain of debt. view article arw

(July 2015)  HOUSTON – A federal grand jury has returned a 19-count indictment against the founding superintendent of The Varnett Public School and her husband alleging charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI, Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz of Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Special Agent in Charge Neil Sanchez of the U.S. Department of Education - Office of Inspector General.  Marian Annette Cluff and Alsie Cluff Jr. are expected to surrender to authorities and make their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson later this week.  view article arw

Don't miss this line:  Bright said students will ask the board to have more public meetings and post online audio, like any other school system. - js - FORT WORTH One of Fort Worth's most successful public schools is going through its own little drama.  Faculty changes and the forced removal of a school board member have rocked the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, home of Broadway stars and ranked the 11th best school in Dallas-Fort Worth by niche.com.  After the departure of the high school principal and some faculty members, about 40 students are pictured wearing black in protest on social media pages called “Join Our Movement.” view article arw

It’s official — Puerto Rico will move forward with plans to reshape its public education system through charter schools and private school vouchers, reform efforts that have proved highly controversial as the island confronts hurricane recovery efforts and a devastating financial crisis. Six months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last September, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed into law last week sweeping legislation to inject the tattered public education system with school choice, among other changes. And while public officials have been in talks with leading education reform groups from the mainland U.S., Education Secretary Julia Keleher said she expects their reform efforts to be “uniquely Puerto Rican.” view article arw

Less than 2 months after Houston ISD in-district charter school Victory Prep North abruptly closed after running out of money, Victory Prep South notified Houston ISD officials that it did not have enough funds to finish out the school year.  Houston ISD's board voted 7-0, with two trustees absent, to spend $300,000 to keep the school open through June. The school will close its doors permanently this summer. view article arw

Trustees at San Antonio Independent School District voted to hand operations of one of the district’s most troubled campuses to a charter school organization. This fall, New York-based charter network Democracy Prep will take over Stewart Elementary School on San Antonio's southeast side. The move stalls interventions set to take place by the Texas Education Agency in August, making Stewart Elementary eligible for a two year reprieve for improvement. view article arw

In the aftermath of a controversial decision to hand operations of Stewart Elementary School to Democracy Prep Public Schools, leaders of the New York-based charter network spent part of last week in San Antonio looking to mend fences.  Teachers and some parents vociferously oppose San Antonio Independent School District trustees’ decision March 19 to contract with Democracy Prep to take over Stewart next school year. The board acted to prevent the state from closing the school, which has failed to meet Texas accountability standards for five consecutive years. Opponents have raised concerns about the charter’s discipline policies and lack of a bilingual program or contracts for teachers. view article arw

Education Trust published a report in 2016 about Michigan’s charter sector. At the time, there was hope that Governor Snyder and the Republican-dominated legislature might pass a law establishing clear accountability standards. But Betsy DeVos, then a private citizen, lobbied hard against any accountability and the law never passed. After its failure, key legislators received large campaign gifts from the DeVos family. The charter sector suctions up $1 billion a year from taxpayers, with no accountability. Education Trust, no critic of charter schools, wrote at that time: view article arw

Richardson ISD school officials are taking a not-so-small step in the right direction in the battle to close the achievement gap between black and Latino students and their white peers. view article arw

A failing public elementary school of San Antonio Independent School District will transition to a charter school next fall. On Monday night, SAISD Board Members voted to approve a contract to have a New York-based program take over Stewart Elementary. However, not everyone is pleased with the outcome. view article arw

The University of Texas at Tyler Innovation Academy (UTTIA) in Palestine, a charter public school serving more than 200 second- to eleventh-grade students from East Texas, could close at the end of the school year. UT Tyler spokesman Lucas Roebuck told the Herald-Press on Wednesday the school building failed the state fire marshal's inspection in August. The UTTIA building was deemed unfit for students, just weeks before the school year. view article arw

The San Antonio Independent School District board is about to take another brave but necessary step to bring high quality education to all students, including the ones who have been assigned to failing schools for years. Forming a partnership with Democracy Prep to operate an in-district charter school at P.F. Stewart Elementary School is the best available choice for a turnaround. In January, the SAISD board voted to approve an in-district charter application for Stewart Elementary, a campus that the Texas Education Agency has rated “improvement required” for many years. Unless the district takes action right away, the law will require the commissioner of education to either appoint a board of managers to take over SAISD or order the campus closed. Stewart is among a handful of SAISD campuses that have not “met standard” for many years. view article arw

Carpe Diem Westwood, a single-campus charter district that has struggled to meet state academic standards since it opened in San Antonio three years ago, will shut down at the end of the school year. The school announced the closure in a letter to parents on March 2, explaining that Carpe Diem’s board of directors had voted to “end school operations” at the conclusion of the school year on June 1. The letter cited low enrollment as the reason for the closure. view article arw

With a large student population, La Joya Independent School District has recently moved to keep the focus on those actually enrolled at LJISD. At a special called board meeting this week, the trustees carried a motion that will not allow students from IDEA and other charter schools to participate in the extracurricular activities of the La Joya school district. view article arw

Tennis great Andre Agassi is known for his success on the court, but he may be making an even bigger mark for his contributions in education. He was in Dallas this week to mark the opening of the new KIPP Pleasant Grove Primary and Middle Schools campus that his Turner-Agassi Charter Schools Facilities Fund developed. Here's a woke guy who understands how transformative high-performing charter schools can be for some students. And he's putting his clout - and his money - behind making them a success across the nation. We loved his athletic prowess, but this is a bigger calling we love even more. view article arw

The Great Online School Scam

February 2108:33 AM

In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Magazine, DeVos said her ultimate goals in education reform encompassed not just charter schools and voucher programs, but also virtual education. She said these forms were important because they would allow “all parents, regardless of their zip code, to have the opportunity to choose the best educational setting for their children.” Also in 2013, one of the organizations that she founded, the American Federation for Children, put out a sharply critical statement after New Jersey’s school chief, Chris Cerf, declined to authorize two virtual charter schools.  view article arw

The Academy is now accepting applications for grades first through eighth for the 2018-2019 academic year. Application forms can be found at the Coahoma ISD website at www.coahomaisd.com. Completed forms can be submitted online or brought to the CISD Administration Office, 600 N. Main Street, Coahoma. Applications must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. view article arw

After decades of growth, enrollment is declining at San Antonio’s second largest school district. This school year, the North East Independent School District saw its biggest drop yet: almost 1,500 students. At a school board meeting Monday night, district officials said the size of the loss took them by surprise, and they need to find a way to stem the tide amid increasing competition from charter schools. view article arw

Victory Prep North, an in-district Houston ISD charter school, will close on Friday due to financial issues, forcing about 300 students to relocate to campuses in the middle of the semester. The charter's executive director, the Rev. Lisa Berry-Dockery, said unexpectedly low enrollment following Hurricane Harvey led to a budget shortfall at the school. "We had students who simply did not return or did not enroll," Berry-Dockery said. Tyrpically "around Labor Day we see a huge boost in enrollment, and we did not receive that because of the hurricane." view article arw

A free day at the aquarium! For Marcey Morse, a mother of two, it sounded pretty good. It was the fall of 2016, and Morse had received an email offering tickets, along with a warning about her children's education. view article arw

Laura Chapman writes: “I think that charters, along with public schools are becoming captives of the tech industry with online education misrepresented as personalized. There is an effort to deschool education altogether by making everything a matter of choice from a menu of options leaving brick and mortar schools at the margins. Among other tools for moving in this direction are per-pupil cost analyses that include proportionate costs of buildings, maintenance, transportation and so on for specific grades, subjects, and levels of staffing.  view article arw

The recent defeat of legislation that would make charter schools accountable and transparent, AB 1478, established definitively that charter schools are private businesses, not public schools.  All public schools must comply with the Brown Act, the California Public Records Act (PRA), or the Political Reform Act of 1974, which make their spending and operations transparent to the public. The charter lobby insists that there are merely bureaucratic burdens and that charters must be free to operate without any public transparency, as private businesses do. view article arw

Dozens gathered Wednesday night in College Station as staff from the International Leadership of Texas held the first two of several information sessions scheduled over the next two months. The meetings are designed to inform local families about the academic possibilities at College Station's first internationally focused charter school. view article arw

The national charter movement grew because people from diverse perspectives agreed on the need for a new form of public school free of bureaucratic and union constraints. As political scientist Stephen Page observed, the movement consisted of left-leaning educators supported by right-wing money. view article arw

The time is running out to enroll students in Dallas Independent School District’s Specialty and Choice school programs for the 2018-2019 school year. One academy, in particular, offers students free access to college. However, some Dallas ISD staff members said enough eligible students are not taking advantage of the unique program, especially in southern Dallas. The staff is working to turn that around. view article arw

Austin-area charter school enrollment has reached an all-time high of 25,400 students, eight times more than a decade ago. Local charter schools now educate about 12 percent of Travis County public school students. Statewide charter school enrollment has nearly hit 273,000 students, about 5 percent of the students in Texas. New charter-friendly Texas laws and programs will likely push those numbers even higher. view article arw

San Antonio Independent School District is contracting with a New York-based charter school organization to run one of its elementary schools next school year. view article arw

San Antonio Independent School District trustees voted Monday to pursue a partnership to let a New York-based charter school network operate one if its lowest-performing campuses, Stewart Elementary, this fall.  If a contract is later signed to govern the unusual arrangement, Democracy Prep Public Schools, a charter network that boasts high performing schools in low-income neighborhoods, would hire its own teaching staff, possibly choosing from current personnel, officials said. view article arw