WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new initiative to promote the creation and expansion of high-quality public charter schools in Opportunity Zones across the United States.  Currently, more than 70% of Opportunity Zones do not have a public charter school option available to students. One-fifth of Opportunity Zone residents lack a high school diploma. By creating and expanding high-quality public charter schools in Opportunity Zones, more families living in economically distressed communities will have access to additional education options that might better meet their child's needs. view article arw

California is paying a high price for its notoriously lax law for authorizing charter schools, which was revised in recent weeks. Tom Ultican sees a striking similarity between the Inspire charter chain, which enrolls home schoolers, and the A3 chain, which went up in flames with a loss to taxpayers of at least $50 million. view article arw

Soner Tarim: Live And In Person.

October 1408:40 AM

It was Monday, September 30 and right there is front of me, only 25 feet away, stood Soner Tarim, the wizard  of charter schools, all the way from Houston, TX (even thought he said in the meeting he lives in Montgomery).  It was the most recent meeting of the state charter school commission and Tarim was there to first tell the world how wonderful things are at LEAD Academy charter in Montgomery; and then give a progress report on the effort to put Woodland Prep in Washington County.  It was the first time I’d ever seen him in person.  He dodged question after question for at least an hour, apparently suffering from some malady that prevents a person from giving a direct answer to even the most basic of questions.  For instance, when commission member Jamie Ison asked if he lived in Montgomery. he told her he does, which every person in the room knew was untrue.  In fact, the next day LEAD board chair Charlotte Meadows went on a Montgomery talk radio show and said that he lives in Houston.  As this dog and pony show droned on, I suddenly realized I had seen this movie before. view article arw

After three of four planned town hall-style meetings about converting the rest of Longview ISD’s campuses to a private charter school system, two things have become clear: Longview ISD has learned parents and others still have confusion and concerns about the idea, and patrons have learned there are still questions the district can’t answer. view article arw

A statewide group of county superintendents has requested a sweeping state audit to investigate potential fraud by the Inspire home charter school network. The superintendents say they have reason to believe Inspire engaged in fiscal malfeasance, conflicts of interest, manipulation of enrollment and revenue and other improper activity. “The concerns regarding Inspire are pervasive across the state, and require immediate attention to prevent further waste of public education dollars and profiting off state apportionment not used to provide a complete and quality education to the students enrolled in the school,” six county superintendents wrote in a letter last week to the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team, or FCMAT, the state agency that audits schools for fraud. view article arw

Doral Academy Texas, a public charter school modeled after the Florida-based network Doral Academy Inc., plans to open a school in the Sunfield subdivision of Buda for the 2021-22 school year, though the company is waiting for approval from the Texas Education Agency and does not have an exact location yet. view article arw

IDEA Public Schools plans to improve educational quality in the scientific and technical fields across its campuses through federal funds. The U.S. Department of Education awarded $2.6 million grant to IDEA Public Schools through the Education Innovation and Research program. The U.S. Department of Education announced about $123 million awarded to 41 school districts nationwide, with IDEA Public Schools being one of two entities in Texas to receive the grant, according to a news release. These funds will be used for the Mathways to STEM Success, which promotes science, technology, engineering and math to serve over 43,000 high-need students in grades 6-12 by the end of the five-year grant period, according to the news release. view article arw

Parents and community members attending the largest-yet Longview ISD town hall about a districtwide charter proposal wanted to know Tuesday why the district is even pursuing the charter schools. About 35 people gathered Tuesday at Judson STEAM Academy for the third of four planned meetings to ask questions or voice concerns about the possible move. view article arw

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza's proposal to expand a charter network to 3,000 students is close to becoming a reality. The Board of Directors for Achievement First charter network voted Monday to add a K-8 school, which would add 1,000 more students. view article arw

The Charter Industry has insisted that charter schools need no regulation, supervision, or oversight so they can have maximum flexibility. But where government money flows, accountability is imperative. The importance of accountability was demonstrated again recently in Dallas, where the CEO of a charter school was convicted of steering a contract to a friend in exchange for a kickback. Donna Houston-Woods, CEO of Nova Academy charter school, was convicted of all four counts against her: three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. view article arw

Compass Academy Charter School is poised to start construction on the second phase of its building at 5530 Billy Hext Road. The 59,000-square-foot addition will house boys and girls physical education, an athletics section and fine arts with band, orchestra and choir. A commons lunch area, partially indoors and partially outdoors, will be another feature. view article arw

On Thursday, Oct. 24 the Bob Hope Charter school in Beaumont will host an event titled “Boots and BBQ,” to highlight Bob Hope Schools, connect with the community and honor Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames. The charter school, which also has a campus in Port Arthur expanded to Beaumont in 2016. view article arw

Inspire Charter Schools does not inspire confidence in its academics, its finances, or its integrity. Inspire makes money by getting state money to underwrite home schooling, with state-subsidized field trips and lots of folderol. Things got so bad that the Inspire chain was kicked out by the California Charter Schools Association, the powerhouse lobbyists for the charter industry. There is just so much embarrassment that the CCSA can tolerate and this is one of those rare occasions. In the past, CCSA has defended criminal charter operators, but drew the line at Inspire and called for an independent audit of its financials. view article arw

William J. Gumbert has been writing a series of articles about charter schools in Texas, which are undermining the state’s underfunded public schools and do not perform any better than public schools. Texas Charter Schools – Perception May Not Be Reality view article arw

Rio Grande Valley, Texas – IDEA Public Schools is excited to announce that, in addition to 100 percent of the Class of 2019 gaining admission to college, as of today, 100 percent of graduates have matriculated to college. Since 2007, IDEA has achieved a nearly perfect college matriculation rate as it pursues its unwavering commitment of College For All Children, ensuring graduates are prepared to succeed in college, career, and life.  The network has maintained these extraordinary results as it has grown to serve more than 53,000 students, across 96 schools in Texas and Louisiana, since 2000—more than any other charter school network during this time period. view article arw

Most parents have taught the lesson of morality to their children by referencing the “Golden Rule”: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. However, within the walls of the Texas Legislature a “Demoralizing Rule” is more applicable: “Do unto others as private donors and special interests want you to do”. This is certainly the case with the State’s public education policies that provide “privately-operated charters” (“charters”) with taxpayer funding to operate separate schools in local communities. As a result, the State is unilaterally forcing local taxpayers to fund 2 separate public education systems – a system of locally governed, community-based school districts and a system of State approved, privately-operated charters. view article arw

Nearly 10 county school boards in Florida recently took collective action to pursue a case against privately-operated-owned charter schools in the Florida Supreme Court.  These public school systems that serve tens of thousands of students oppose the dreaded HB 7069 legislation, which the neoliberal governor of Florida, Rick Scott, signed into law in 2017. view article arw

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has been making charter-school supporters in his state mighty unhappy. The charter sector in Pennsylvania has long been beset by fraud and a lack of transparency and accountability. In fact, in 2016, the state’s auditor general called the state charter law the “worst” in the nation. view article arw

Anew federal report released Wednesday offers crucial statistics about one of the most fiercely debated topics in education: school choice. Politicians and advocates have called for moratoriums on creating new charter schools, and they were raised as one of the first K-12 topics in the Democratic debates — even if most of the candidates avoided the issue. The report, from the National Center for Education Statistics, offered hard numbers on choice. It studied changes in enrollment in traditional public schools, charters and private schools, as well as homeschooling trends, including information on achievement and parental choice and satisfaction, over the past two decades. view article arw

Steven Miller of the Texas Monitor reports on the perks for charter executives in Texas. If you are a charter bigwig or spouse, you can fly first class, a privilege not available to public school employees. Charter executives are exempt from the rules that apply to public schools. Yet they deign to call themselves “public schools” without surrendering their perks. view article arw

Longview ISD held a meeting Monday to discuss a possible transition into district-wide charter classes. Senate Bill 1882 allows districts to have non-profit charter schools take over public school campuses. Some members on the Longview ISD school board believe the change could have a benefit for students and add more funding from the state. view article arw

Every fall, we are treated to a wave of feel-good back-to-school media coverage. Now there’s a new fall tradition—puff pieces about new charter schools.  Whether the charter is opening in Holyoke or Buffalo, Costa Mesa or Tulsa, Moultrie or Philadelphia, or all over North Carolina, these stories seem like marketing coups for the PR departments of their respective charter schools.   The pieces often begin with a picture of happy students and parents. They may tell the story of the charter’s “struggle” to get its doors open, and generally include plenty of material from interviews with key charter leaders.  view article arw

Mississippi’s first rural charter school was founded to promote a college-bound mindset and address historically “abysmal educational outcomes” for area students, according to The Hechinger Report. view article arw

IDEA Public Schools announced it would build a new school in Round Rock—IDEA Round Rock Tech Academy—in a Sept. 20 news release. IDEA has 14 schools and 6,000 students enrolled in Austin and plans to add 16 more schools during the next four years, per the release. view article arw

Longview ISD officials have scheduled a series of meetings to gather community input as they consider applying for district-wide charter status. Board President and Place 4 Trustee Ginia Northcutt said the district has wanted to turn all of its schools into charter campuses since Senate Bill 1882 was passed in 2017. view article arw

William J. Gumbert has prepared statistical analyses of charter performance in Texas, based on state data. Charters boast of their “success,” but the reality is far different from their claims. They don’t enroll similar demographics, their attrition rate is staggering, and their “wait lists” are unverified.Their claims are a marketing tool. view article arw

America has been fooled by the charter school industry for too long.  The popular myth that charter schools were invented by unions to empower teachers and communities so that students would have better options is as phony as a three dollar bill.   The concept always was about privatizing schools to make money. view article arw

The NYOS Charter School has opened an investigation with the Austin Police Department after a student allegedly made a threat against the Lamar campus over the weekend. The executive director of the school, Kathleen Zimmermann, told KVUE Sunday that students first alerted staff of the situation.  view article arw

Los Altos has a problem. Wealthy residents opened a charter school for their children, drawing money from the public schools to support their charter. The Bullis School is a private school that calls itself a “public” school and is funded by public dollars. Vladimir Ivanovic wrote the following update on the community’s efforts to compel the Bullis School to act like a public school, not a private academy. Vladimir is a member of the elected Los Altos school board. He is also earning his doctorate in education policy at San Jose State University and has been a member of the Network for Public Education since 2013. view article arw

The leading Democratic candidates for president took on some hot-button issues in education during Thursday night’s debate, and illustrated the divide in how they think and talk about charter schools. Held at Texas Southern University, a historically black university in Houston, the debate featured 10 candidates: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang. view article arw

Lawmakers sent Gov. Gavin Newsom legislation Tuesday that overhauls the way California approves charter schools. The measure approved by the Assembly on a 56-16 vote would no longer let the state authorize charter schools, leaving that responsibility to school districts and county governments. The legislation also would require that all charter school teachers be credentialed, while giving existing teachers five years to meet that requirement. view article arw

Route 522 in northern New Mexico stretches about 40 miles from the town of Taos up to the Colorado border, offering sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. Along the two-lane road, rundown buildings and tiny towns appear and disappear in a matter of seconds. It’s exactly what you’d imagine rural New Mexico to be, save for one anomaly: hidden among the pine trees about a half-mile off route 522 sits Roots and Wings Community School, one of a growing number of charter schools operating in rural communities across the country. As of the 2017-18 school year, 809 rural charter schools nationwide served approximately 256,000 students. Though that’s only about one-tenth of all charter schools and students nationwide, it represents substantial growth over the last decade. Between 2007 and 2017, the number of charter schools operating in rural communities increased 22 percent and the number of students attending rural charters increased 64 percent. view article arw

More parents are transferring their students from public school districts to local charter schools as the alternative public schools continue to open in suburban areas, such as northwest Harris County. Within Spring and Klein’s nine ZIP code area, there are 19 charter schools with at least one more planning to open next year. In the 2018-19 school year, 1,036 students within Klein ISD’s boundaries transferred out to charter schools, while 2,207 Spring ISD students and 3,477 Cy-Fair ISD students opted to attend charter schools, according to the Texas Education Agency’s student transfer report. view article arw

The world-renowned Texas Boys Choir, for 60 years one of the leading classical choirs, is without its top two officials after the recent resignations of artistic director Jason Bishop and chief executive Clint Riley. Bishop, the director for two years, announced his resignation with a fiery Facebook post in a private group, decrying what he called unethical behavior and attacks on his character. Associate artistic director Kerra Simmons will fill in while the choir searches for a new director, according to an announcement from Texas Center for Arts and Academics. view article arw

On a clear morning in late August, 9-year-old Alongkorn Lafargue hops in the back seat of his father's car. He's wearing his school uniform: neatly ironed khakis and a bright blue polo shirt embroidered with the logo of his new charter school, IDEA Oscar Dunn. Alongkorn has been going there only a few weeks, and his dad, Alex Lafargue, says he has struggled to get his son to talk about what it's like. view article arw