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

HOUSTON - A Houston Charter School appears to have closed its doors permanently because of financial insolvency.The Houston Heights Learning Academy, which was originally granted a State Board of Education charter in September, 1998.  The Board of Directors for the school informed the Texas Education Agency it would close for good as of Nov. 18.  A Channel 2 Investigates review of state records shows the school spent approximately three times more on operating expenses than the state average. view article arw

On Tuesday night, at a southern Dallas library, Dallas ISD and charter school operator International Leadership of Texas jointly participated in a community meeting, with both school systems describing what they have to offer. It wasn't just a school fair, though. It was political theater. ILTexas - founded by former DISD administrator Eddie Conger - hopes to open a $24 million, 94,000-square foot K-8 campus on Simpson Stuart Road, a quarter of a mile from the Highland Hills Branch Library, where the event was held. The new building would be in DISD's attendance zone, potentially pulling students from the Wilmer-Hutchins feeder pattern. view article arw

Monday on The Chad Hasty Show, GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak joined the show to discuss current topics in state and national news. view article arw

In which Gary Miron and I discuss various methods by which charter school operators work largely within existing policy constraints, to achieve financial gain. While working on this report, I explored various other topics that did not make the final cut, in part because I was then, and continue to have difficulty gathering sufficient information. The other day, however this article was posted on LA Weekly about wage extraction by “Gulen” charter schools:  view article arw

TEA Releases Charter School Study

December 1208:37 AM

TASB Govermental Relations - The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has posted a report on the performance of open-enrollment charter school campuses as compared to their matched independent school district campuses as required by Senate Bill 2 (83rd Legislature, 2013). The report includes comparisons of graduation and dropout rates, performance on state assessments, attrition, and other measures. Read the study. read more arw

What President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican sweep of government will mean for K-12 education priorities over the next four years is not entirely clear yet. However, policy statements and administration selections so far indicate “school choice” will top the agenda.   Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for education secretary, has been known to be an advocate of school choice initiatives: DeVos has supported voucher programs that allow families to use taxpayer money to enroll in private and religious schools. She also promoted charter school legislation that offers students choices outside of traditional public schools. view article arw

Millions of dollars will remain in the coffers of public charter schools after the State Board of Education freed up more state money to back their construction bonds. On Friday, the board signed off on dedicating an additional $249 million of the Permanent School Fund in March to back bond issues for charter schools and then another set for $317 million in September. The backing of the fund, which at $30 billion is the largest education endowment in the country, allows Charter schools to pay lower interest on bonds.  The board will hold one more vote in February to finalize Friday’s decision. view article arw

It's hard to tell who goes to which school at one Spring Branch ISD campus.  Landrum Middle houses a traditional public school and "KIPP: Courage," the state's first charter to operate on a public school campus. The students walk the same halls, use the same gymnasium.  "My best friend goes to Landrum," said Baleria Jimenez, a KIPP student,"but it's cool, because we still get to interact with each other."  Spring Branch ISD embarked on a partnership with two charter school operators, KIPP and Yes Prep, about five years ago. The district allowed the charter operators to launch programs at two middle-school campuses and a high school that were suffering from low enrollment. view article arw