Four finalists will be interviewed by TEA and SBOE members today and tomorrow, which the commissioner will consider for approval, subject to a SBOE veto at their June 15 meeting.  The Generation 23 application cycle is now entering the Interview stage.  The interviews are scheduled to take place on May 21st and May 22nd; a detailed schedule (PDF, 110 KB) is also available. The applications may be found on the Subchapter D & E Applications .   read more arw

A statewide education advocacy group says traditional public schools outperformed charter campuses in North Texas last year. About 45 percent of area school district campuses earned A's and B's while only 27 percent of charter schools got those top marks in an annual report released Wednesday by Houston-based Children At Risk. The Children At Risk grades could be a preview of what's to come as the state begins issuing its own grades for the first time in a new A-F accountability system. The state will start grading districts this year and individual campuses the following year. view article arw

On Monday, we released a report that disclosed five K12 (NYSE:LRN) schools that are closing or at risk of closing after this school year and a first ever union contract for the California Virtual Academies. We estimate that the lost revenue and increased expenses will cause pre-tax earnings to decline $20 Million and lead K12 to lose money in fiscal 2019 and beyond. view article arw

PHOENIX (AP) — More than 100 Arizona charter schools showed financial warning signs last year with dozens at possible risk of closing, according to a newspaper's analysis of charter school finances across the state.  Operators representing 138 of the state's 538 charter schools failed three of four measures reported in financial performance dashboards for the 2016-17 school year, The Arizona Republic reported .  Charter holders of 62 schools failed all four measures. The charter holders of 41 schools were flagged by their auditors over concerns that closure was possible within a year. view article arw

Texas charter schools are sometimes private and sometimes governmental — a legal framework that has helped them avoid costly lawsuits. In 2006, in Dallas, a construction company sued a charter school, alleging that the school stiffed workers on a building contract to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars.  Eight years later, in Houston, a third grade teacher sued the charter school where she worked, alleging that it had falsified test scores, that it failed to properly provide for students with disabilities and that mold in her classroom had made her sick. Their claims did not make it very far. view article arw

In the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of the top public high schools in America, seven of the top 10 are test-in schools. Students have to be “gifted and talented” or come armed with high test scores and grades as well as teacher recommendations and the ability to write a great essay on demand. And then there are the three BASIS schools that ranked second, third and sixth. They are all Arizona charter schools with no admissions tests. The only requirement is an application for the lottery. view article arw

Long before the groundswell of demands for higher teacher pay that led to a school walkout in Arizona, one of the state's high-profile charter schools found a novel way to boost teachers' income: Push parents to pay. Basis Charter Schools Inc., one of the state's fast-growing charter organizations, gets tax money to run its Arizona campuses as public schools. They're open to any family, tuition-free. view article arw

In a move intended to send an angry message about new state laws governing the creation and funding of new charter schools, Florida’s Leon County School Board recently voted unanimously to reject applications from two groups hoping to open new schools in the Tallahassee area. “It is time for the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Legislature to fix this flawed system,” Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna wrote in a commentary published in the Tallahassee Democrat. “Until then, I will not be recommending the approval of any new charter school applications.” view article arw

Largely lost in the loud, raucous debate last week over what the Houston Independent School District should do with 10 failing schools, a concern was raised about the HISD proposal that would have handed the schools to a charter school group the district’s union president described as a “real estate scam.” Houston Federation of Teachers chief, Zeph Capo, suggested that an Energized For STEM Academy school chief is profiting from rented buildings paid for by tax dollars.

Waco Independent School District trustees have approved an application and contract to build an in-district charter system with Prosper Waco, taking another major step to prevent the state from closing five underperforming schools. view article arw

Not everyone on the Waco Independent School District Board of Trustees agrees with partnering with Prosper Waco. One board member saying she doesn't think it will help. But the Waco ISD Superintendent thinks otherwise. view article arw

ast year, the Orlando Sentinel exposed scandals, violations and gaffes galore at voucher schools in this state.  There were teachers without degrees, schools caught falsifying safety reports, schools run by people accused of crimes and schools that were such financial messes they were evicted from their campuses in the middle of the school year.  Demonize public schools all you want. There won’t be a day when you take your kid to an Orange County school only to find the school is no longer there. view article arw

Houston ISD leaders will not turn over control of their 10 longest-struggling schools to any outside organizations, district leaders announced Wednesday, a decision that shifts enormous power over HISD's future to the Texas Education Agency. The move, in all likelihood, means HISD must receive accountability or sanctions waivers from TEA Commissioner Mike Morath for the district to avoid forced campus closures or a state takeover of its locally elected school board. The potential punishments follow HISD's failure to improve performance at the 10 schools and the bipartisan passage of a new education law in 2015 designed to propel academic improvement. view article arw

A charter school in Texas apologized on Friday after students were asked to write a list of the positive aspects of slavery.  In a Facebook post, Aaron Kindel, the superintendent of the Great Hearts academies in Texas, apologized for the eighth-grade history class assignment, saying that the incident was limited to just one teacher at one particular school. "In the 8th grade American History class students were asked to reflect on the differing sides of slavery," the Facebook post reads. "To be clear, there is no debate about slavery. It is immoral and a crime against humanity." view article arw

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

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  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