KIPP Public Schools, individual district charter networks operating across Texas, are consolidating into a single statewide school district. The four charter networks in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio asked the Texas Education Agency to close their individual charters so they could convert into one district charter, KIPP Texas Public Schools. The statewide organization will oversee all 52 KIPP charter campuses and 27,700 students in Texas. Of those, Austin educates 5,000 students in 10 campuses. view article arw

After being at risk of closure for failing to meet academic standards for four consecutive years, Mendez Middle School will get a new shot at a turn around. The Texas Education Agency has approved the Austin school district’s choice in a partner to help save the 700-student middle school in Southeast Austin, which could have faced state sanctions if it failed again this year. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency approved a partnership last week between Mendez Middle School and the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Coalition to help improve the struggling school's accountability rating. TEA has rated Mendez "Improve­ment Required" for four years in a row, and a fifth could result in the Austin Independent School Dis­trict closing the school down (2017-18 ratings are expected in August). To avoid that fate, AISD invoked a new law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017 that pauses the rating system at a specific campus for two years and provides additional funding to the school (in Mendez's case, about $1,900 per student), if the district partners with a state-approved group to develop a "turnaround plan" for the campus. view article arw

The merger will make KIPP Texas Public Schools, as the organization will now be known, the second-largest charter school network in Texas, behind IDEA Public Schools. The four KIPP networks served about 25,000 students last year in about 50 schools throughout the Houston, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio areas. view article arw

On Wednesday, the four regional KIPP networks in Texas announced their merger to form KIPP Texas Public Schools, a single statewide nonprofit that will serve 27,700 students — 25 percent of KIPP’s national student population — across 52 campuses in Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.  The statewide network will be led by CEO Sebha Ali, former superintendent of KIPP Houston. She anticipates new opportunities for growth and innovation, but said that major initiatives weren’t necessarily imminent. view article arw

The Democratic Party in Colorado and California have passed resolutions attacking Democrats for Education Reform as a phony, corporate-controlled front organization and demanded that it stop sullying the Democratic Party by using its name. In New York, where hedge fund money flows freely to DFER, it continues to be a political player, having no popular political base but owning corporate politicians who wants its campaign contributions. It has filled the vacuum left by the collapse of the phony “Families for Excellent Schools,”also funded and owned by billionaires who never set foot in a public school. view article arw

Trinity University is creating a school incubator program with the potential to launch five new charter schools — or charter-like district schools — a year. The program joins a growing list of initiatives that has the potential to foster charter/district collaboration in San Antonio. view article arw

There are at least 760 charter schools operating in Texas as of the 2016-2017 school year, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Listen Listening...48:52 Charter schools are privately run, publicly funded education institutions for school-age students grades K-12. State law gives the Texas education commissioner the authority to grant charters contingent to state board approval. view article arw

Currently, 9% of American students attend private and religious schools; 6% attend charter schools; and 85% attend public schools. The public does not realize that every dollar spent for a charter or a voucher is a dollar subtracted from public schools. No state has added extra dollars for charters or vouchers. They simply take money away from public schools, which most students attend view article arw

A charter school affiliated with the same Texas nonprofit that faced criticism over its shelters for unaccompanied immigrant children could soon add hundreds of those kids to its attendance rolls, which would mean an influx of state dollars. Austin-based Southwest Key already is to receive nearly half a billion dollars this fiscal year as one of the nation's largest contractors to shelter immigrant children. Now a charter network founded by the nonprofit could qualify for millions in state funding by educating those kids. view article arw

Freedom to innovate is the beauty of the charter school concept. But we should always be mindful of the ugly side. Here in Houston, a public charter school superintendent’s greed went unchecked to the point that she was able to achieve a luxury lifestyle the typical public school schmucks could only dream of: She and her husband owned a 7,000-square-foot Houston mansion, traveled in a private jet, and donned high-end clothing and jewelry. A federal judge on Friday compared the couple to villains from a Charles Dickens novel who steal from the poor. Varnett charter school founders Marian Annette Cluff and Alsie Cluff Jr. were sentenced to 10 years and 3 years, in prison, respectively, for running an embezzlement and tax scheme that bilked low-income parents, as reported by Chronicle reporter Jacob Carpenter. view article arw

Diane Ravitch is a historian of American education at New York University. In 1988, teachers union leader Albert Shanker had an idea: What if teachers were allowed to create a school within a school, where they could develop innovative ways to teach dropouts and unmotivated students? The teachers would get the permission of their colleagues and the local school board to open their school, which would be an R&D lab for the regular public school. These experimental schools, he said, would be called “charter schools.” Five years later, in 1993, Shanker publicly renounced his proposal. The idea had been adopted by businesses seeking profits, he said, and would be used, like vouchers, to privatize public schools and destroy teachers unions. He wrote that “vouchers, charter schools, for-profit management schemes are all quick fixes that won’t fix anything.” view article arw

A new nonprofit board headed by former Waco Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. has been named to oversee Waco Independent School District’s new in-district charter system. The in-district charter also has a new name: Transformation Waco. In May, the Texas Education Agency gave local nonprofit Prosper Waco full autonomy over Waco’s five underperforming schools by forming the in-district charter partnership between the school district and the nonprofit. view article arw

Joyce Foreman has seen how public charter school growth has affected Dallas ISD in recent years, how a new campus can starve an existing neighborhood school, and how the spread of charters has withered the district's student enrollment.  Now, the DISD trustee wants the city to do something about it.  At a Dallas City Council committee meeting this week, Foreman asked the council for help, requesting a city-commissioned study on the overall impacts of charter schools on their communities. She also asked for a moratorium on new charters in her trustee district, which covers southwest Dallas. view article arw

Jan Resseger writes that ECOT—the $1 Billion black hole of Ohio charters—has collapsed, but charters continue to defund public schools that most children attend. “Because of the way Ohio funds charter schools, not only the state but also the local school district loses money when a student leaves for a charter school. In Ohio the money follows the child to the charter right out of the general fund of the school district in which the child resides. Many districts lose more money to charters than they receive in state aid. As the Columbus Dispatch‘s Jim Siegel reports: “Ohio does not directly fund charter schools, instead subtracting the money from individual districts based on where a charter student lives.  view article arw

Comparing them to villains from a Charles Dickens novel who steal from the poor, a federal judge on Friday sentenced Varnett charter school founders Marian Annette Cluff and Alsie Cluff Jr. to 10 years and 3 years in prison, respectively, for running an embezzlement and tax scheme that bilked low-income parents. ollowing a nearly-five-hour hearing, during which victims lamented their financial losses and the Cluffs pleaded for mercy, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon sentenced the married couple to the maximum sentences outlined in their plea agreements and ordered $4.4 million in restitution. view article arw

A new charter school, set to open for the 2018-2019 school year, sets its goals on language, leadership, service and physical fitness. International Leadership of Texas -- ILTexas -- will open its 17th campus in College Station in August, and had its final informational meeting Thursday at the Brazos Center. Around 100 interested parents attended the meeting to ask questions of school officials. Among the topics discussed was Spanish and Mandarin Chinese taught along with English at the free public charter school and an emphasis on service. view article arw

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath has approved applications from two new Houston-area charter school operators, which are planning to open elementary campuses south of downtown Houston.  Morath gave the green light Monday to Bloom Academy Charter School and Réve Preparatory Charter School, which both aim to open two campuses within the next several years. The two networks were founded by fellows from Building Excellent Schools, a national nonprofit that trains future charter school leaders. view article arw

On Monday, the commissioner of education approved the applications of three charter schools that are largely funded and supported by an out-of-state organization, Building Excellent Schools, Inc. (BES), which receives millions of dollars annually from Walmart’s pro-privatization Walton Family Foundation. The BES schools named “Reve Preparatory” and “Bloom Academy” would be located in Houston and “Promesa Academy” would be located in San Antonio. Both of these cities are among 13 “target” cities the Walton Foundation has chosen to further its school privatization agenda. view article arw

Low-income students who won a lottery to attend private school via vouchers in the District of Columbia score lower on math tests, even after two years, according to a federal analysis from the Institute of Education Sciences. Washington has the only federally-funded voucher program in the country.  view article arw

Midland ISD held a conversation on Tuesday about the future of Travis Elementary, and that conversation involves the potential of the first in-district charter. The school in southeast Midland has struggled academically for years. Superintendent Orlando Riddick said the district has an opportunity to dramatically change the school, and on Tuesday he presented that opportunity to interested parents as part of a conversation about ideas to improve the quality of education at Travis. view article arw

History has shown us that true visionaries, like Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison, saw things the rest of us didn’t. And history is marked with episodes of their frustration as they tried to tell the public of their grand plans to no avail. And so it is in that context that we approach the seemingly off-the-wall request by PSJA ISD Superintendent Dr. Daniel King to convert his entire school district into a “charter school” status by the start of school in the fall, in a quirky and innovative play for more state funding. view article arw

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