Claycomb Associates, Architects

News broke recently about what may be the single biggest charter school scam ever in which an online charter school organization is alleged to have bilked the state of California for $80 million by enrolling tens of thousands of students into their programs, often without the students’ knowledge, and charging the state for nonexistent education services and bogus expenses related to operating the schools. view article arw

Children’s Lighthouse Learning Centers plans to open a new 11,200-square-foot school in late summer across 2 acres at 2602 Jordan Ranch Blvd., Brookshire, near the Jordan Ranch community in the west Katy area, according to a press release. view article arw

The borderland’s newest campus of a Texas-based charter school chain will open in Horizon City next year. view article arw

The role of education in a society is to consciously pass on the accumulated knowledge of humanity to the next generation so that society keeps moving forward.  This is especially true in a modern society based on mass industrial production where all sectors of the economy are interdependent and large-scale in character.  Millions of highly-educated and skilled people are needed today to operate, organize, and develop a modern society and economy. Education is indispensable to the extended reproduction of society and the economic system, and goes beyond parents and “the kids.” view article arw

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Education’s law enforcement arm have also been probing Epic Charter Schools’ student enrollment practices and finances, public records obtained by the Tulsa World show. view article arw

 The founders of Oklahoma's largest virtual charter school embezzled millions of dollars in state funds through an illegal scheme that involved the use of "ghost students" to artificially inflate enrollment numbers, investigators allege. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Tommy Johnson outlined the allegations in an affidavit for a search warrant of an Epic teacher's home filed late Monday in Oklahoma County. Investigators seized a laptop and mobile phone during their search. view article arw

Part 3 of this 5-part series reviews the recruiting “sales pitch”, the alarming student attrition rates and the below average college graduation rates of various “College Preparatory” charters targeting “economically-disadvantaged” students across Texas. Privately-operated charter schools (“charters”) were originally promoted as an “education reform” to improve the educational opportunities of “economically-disadvantaged” students. In 1995, the State authorized charters to separately operate in community-based school districts with taxpayer funding. Since inception, the charter experiment has provided privately-operated charters with over $22 billion of taxpayer funding. view article arw

Charter schools associated with the Gulen movement are found in many states. They have many different names, like Magnolia, Harmony, Sonoran and more. There are more than 150 of them. If asked, they always deny that they are Gulen schools. The best source for identifying Gulen schools is the list of names compiled by Oakland parent activist Sharon Higgins. view article arw

This law journal article about the self-dealing and corruption in the charter sector was written by Professors Preston C. Green III, Bruce D. Baker, and Joseph Oluwole.  Since it was written, there have been so many examples of scandals, conflicts of interest, and outright theft of public dollars that this prediction seems remarkably prescient. view article arw

Texas passed its initial charter school legislation in 1995 and the state's first charter schools opened in the fall of 1996. It was Senate Bill 1 in the 74th Legislature that overhauled the Texas Education Code and gave the State Board of Education the authority to grant open-enrollment charter schools. The argument was that charter schools would be able to experiment and innovate outside of the rules and regulations of the independent school districts to find ways to improve education outcomes. The record in that area has been mixed. view article arw

Three small districts near El Paso passed resolutions opposing the dramatic expansion of the charter sector, which is driven by federal funds awarded by Betsy DeVos to the IDEA charter chain. As charter schools expand in El Paso, fueled by a sizable federal grant, three of the county’s smaller districts are hoping recent resolutions will prevent students from leaving and encourage lawmakers to do more to quell charter growth. view article arw

After weeks of negotiation, Gov. Gavin Newsom has stepped in to scale back proposed legislation that charter school advocates feared would radically slow charter growth. On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee passed Assembly Bill 1505, which included a substantial number of amendments that Newsom’s office submitted after numerous discussions between his advisers and representatives of charters schools, organized labor and the bill’s author, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach.  The bill was approved by a 4-3 vote. view article arw

The charter Industry has one thing going for it. Guess what that is. Not superior academic results. No, its trump card is money. In this society, money is power. Politicians always are in search of money for their next campaign. Big donors always find open doors. Follow the money has become a precept more recognizable in this era than the Ten Commandments. view article arw

“We need to end the government monopoly in education by transferring power from bureaucracies and unions to families.” This sentiment expressed by Jeb Bush, 43rd Governor of Florida as well as son and brother to former presidents, reflects the reason the charter school movement began in Idaho. In the late 1990s, Idahoans recognized that all students learn differently and that parents know their children better than anyone else. It wasn’t that citizens and lawmakers hated traditional public schools. It wasn’t to start a competition to see who could create the “best” school. The foundation for Idaho charter schools was a desire to offer choices that helped all students grow and succeed. view article arw

Alabama is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to charter schools, having only passed a law allowing these schools in 2015.  Which says to many that we would be wise to take some lessons from states who have played the charter game much longer than we have.  Take Georgia for example.  They passed a charter law in 1994.  Like Alabama, they also have a state charter commission to oversee charter schools.  But unlike Alabama, the Georgia charter commission is becoming more cautious in granting charter applications and is actually giving first thought to students–not charter promoters– when approving applications. view article arw

I have published some posts recently about a report issued by a public education advocacy group about waste in the U.S. Education Department’s Charter Schools Program, which has provided funding for charters to open and expand since the mid-1990s. Charter supporters have taken issue with the report’s findings. The report, titled “Asleep at the Wheel,” detailed how up to $1 billion in federal funds have been wasted on charter schools that never opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons. Published by the Network for Public Education, the report said the department — in both Republican and Democratic administrations — has not adequately monitored the use of its grants to charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated. view article arw

School districts across San Antonio have lost students to charter schools in recent years. But the enrollment declines started earlier and cut deeper in the city’s urban core. The San Antonio Independent School District has lost the most: nearly 6,000 students since 2009, according to a TPR analysis of enrollment changes over the past 10 years. The Edgewood school district west of SAISD lost an equally high percentage of its students. view article arw

A move to convert some prekindergarten classrooms into charters was finalized by the Dallas school board late on Thursday, but not before it drew sharp criticism from opponents. DISD trustees approved amended contracts with 10 preschool operators to create in-district charter campuses that run mostly free from district authority. Dallas is taking advantage of a new state law that gives districts more money if a campus is converted to a charter. view article arw

A controversial deal to convert some prekindergarten classrooms into charter campuses within the Dallas school district on Thursday again drew sharp criticism from opponents who say they worry about the privatization of public education. view article arw

Since Soner Tarim of Sugarland, Texas, has management contracts for both Woodland Prep and LEAD Academy charter schools, I watched with great interest when he appeared before the Texas Board of Education on June 14 trying to get approval to open eight new charter schools in Austin and Houston.  Board member Georgina Perez of El Paso cut him no slack. In fact, when the chair asked if she had any questions, she quickly replied, “I have six pages of them.” She only made it to page five before the chair asked her to let some other members have their shot. A former teacher, she is one of five Democrats on the 15-member panel. view article arw

Repost from yesterday - js - Privately-operated charter schools (“charters”) have been provided over $22 billion of taxpayer funding to simultaneously serve students in Texas community-based school districts. Although charters were intended to improve student learning, 108 charters have been closed and 138 charter campuses are currently rated as low performing (score of 69 or below) by the State’s 2018 Academic Accountability Rating System. Despite these facts and without the involvement of local communities, the Texas Education Agency (“TEA”) has approved the opening of over 100 new charter campuses. TEA and the State Board of Education have also approved 8 new charter operators to open additional campuses in the next 2 years. view article arw

Florida just got a report card on the state's oversight of charter schools. The state flunked.  We will note up front that the report came from the National Education Association. The teachers union has developed an adversarial relationship with charter schools — for good reason. What began as a movement to complement public education has become a movement to privatize it. view article arw

The East Texas Advanced Academies board of trustees on Thursday approved letting Longview ISD’s business offices handle some of the new organization’s office work. view article arw

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