Beaumont ISD will not have to shut down Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School after voting to partner with Green Dot Public Schools, a Los Angeles-based charter school operator, after more than four years of failing accountability scores at the campus. The decision comes after the district underwent a second ‘Call for Quality S,’ a request to identify partners who can help rehabilitate schools struggling with academic and accountability rankings, as well as to provide innovative options for parents. view article arw

The IDEA charter chain, which is seeking state approval to add 27 campuses in Texas and increase its enrollment cap by almost 35,000 students, already takes a huge chunk of tax dollars from the public education budget — $498 million for 2019-20 alone. By comparison, that is more tax money than the Legislature appropriated to the University of Texas at Austin that year.  IDEA’s proposed expansion, as reported by the Houston Chronicle, would be the largest in the history of charters in Texas and would take millions of additional tax dollars from under-funded public schools.  The charter chain calls itself IDEA Public Schools, but it doesn’t operate like public schools. As do other corporate charter chains, it has a non-elected board unanswerable to taxpayers. Real public schools have elected governing boards whose members, unlike IDEA’s, live where their schools are located. view article arw

A parent-led organization on Wednesday launched the Bastrop Charter Advocate Network, a nonprofit whose mission is to expand school choice in Bastrop County and attract a charter school to the area.  “We have been on this journey for approximately two and a half years. The parents in Bastrop want a charter sooner rather than later. Any charters we work with will have to ensure that the needs of Bastrop County are met,” said founding board members Mercathea Hughes and Gwen Martin  The board members said the nonprofit is vetting existing charter schools and hope to recruit a school and open in fall 2022. view article arw

Longview ISD charter partner Longview Educates and Prospers passed a $1.9 million 2020-21 budget at a Thursday board meeting.  LEAP is a nonprofit organization operating the Longview Early Graduation High School and the East Texas Advanced Manufacturing Academy as Senate Bill 1882 campuses.  SB 1882 is legislation that provides financial incentive to districts who allow nonprofit entities to operate campuses as charter schools.  All Longview ISD campuses are now charter schools run by three operating partners: East Texas Advanced Academies, Texas Council for International Studies and LEAP. view article arw

Three charter school operators are hoping to gain a foothold in Central Texas, requesting that the State Board of Education approve their applications to launch campuses within the Austin, Hays and San Marcos district boundaries.   Doral Academy of Texas, Learn4Life and CLEAR Public Charter School are each seeking to operate new charter campuses in the Austin area.  The education board is expected to have a preliminary vote Thursday, with a final vote Friday, on whether to approve allowing these and five other charter operators to set up in Texas.    (10) view article arw

A request by IDEA Public Schools to significantly expand its Texas footprint is facing heightened scrutiny from state education officials, who are seeking more information on the network's administrative, governance and financial practices following a spate of negative headlines tied to its spending.  In a letter sent two weeks ago to leaders of the state’s largest charter school operator, Texas Education Agency officials requested responses to about 15 questions that stem from criticism leveled against the organization in the past few years. The letter notes that IDEA engaged in spending “that some might consider questionable,” including the use of a private jet for executive travel, and had administrative missteps “that may be indicative of inadequate institutional and financial oversight.” view article arw

Arizona charter schools that received up to $100 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans can keep the money and not have any of their state funding cut, the Arizona Auditor General's Office has determined. At issue is a rarely enforced state charter school law that prohibits taxpayers from paying "twice to educate the same pupils." view article arw

Arizona charter schools that received up to $100 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans can keep the money and not have any of their state funding cut, the Arizona Auditor General's Office has determined.  At issue is a rarely enforced state charter school law that prohibits taxpayers from paying "twice to educate the same pupils."  The law requires a school that has been twice compensated to have their base-level funding reduced by an equal amount if additional federal or state monies received by the school were "intended for the basic maintenance and operations of the school."  But Auditor General Lindsey Perry concluded the state law "does not apply to loan proceeds charter schools" obtained through the federal PPP program.  Her office ruled the loans — despite being 100% forgivable with minimal justification to show that the money was needed — were not "monies received from a federal or state agency" as described in state law.   view article arw

More than 500 students and adults from around the country tuned in to our student town hall yesterday for a wide-ranging discussion of the challenges of going back to school in the midst of a pandemic, confronting systemic racism and making young people's voices heard. You can see a full snapshot of how Twitter responded to the conversation, presented by The 74 and America's Promise Alliance and moderated by The 74's Laura Fay, at #ListenToYouth. We'll be posting video highlights and additional coverage next week. view article arw

Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina released the following statement:  At a time when public schools face unprecedented financial challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and statagencies are being asked to cut spending, Education Commissioner Mike Morath has approved eight new charter school applications for Texas. Three are for corporate-style charter chains based outside of Texas. The big question is “why?”    (31) read more arw

  • Brillante Academy (McAllen)
  • CLEAR Public Charter School (San Marcos)
  • *Doral Academy of Texas (Buda)
  • Heritage Classical Academy (Houston)
  • *Learn4Life (Austin)
  • Prelude Preparatory (San Antonio)
  • Rocketship Public Schools (Fort Worth) 
  • Royal Public Schools (San Antonio)
*out-of-state charter chains)                         (20) read more arw

With the upcoming school year already upended by the coronavirus pandemic, charter schools in Los Angeles are facing more uncertainty as they comply with a new state law.  California’s new law imposing greater restrictions on charter schools, which took effect last month, faces pushback from charter schools in the district that’s home to the largest number of charter schools in the state. At issue is a draft of a new 80-page policy detailing how Los Angeles Unified plans to implement the law. The policy will be in front of the school board for a vote on Tuesday.  L.A. Unified’s policy, which was developed by its charter school division and reviewed by the district’s general counsel, is likely to set the stage for how other districts across the state interpret the new law, Assembly Bill 1505. The law gives school boards more power to reject new charter schools and changes the process for renewing charter schools. view article arw

IDEA Converse ready to open doors

August 1008:25 AM

IDEA Converse Public Schools expects to welcome more than 440 students to the program this month.  The new campus will begin serving pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first-grade and sixth-grade students on Aug. 11 at its complex at Martinez Converse Road and FM 1516.  School programming will open in an all-virtual format due to COVID-19 restrictions set forth by the state. But while PPEs and safeguards are being installed and adhered to, school officials say the pandemic won’t keep the school from its mission. view article arw

The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, is a $660-billion business loan program established as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus legislation that Congress passed in the spring. PPP was aimed at helping certain small businesses, nonprofit organizations, sole proprietors and others stay in business during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Small Business Administration administered the program, and recently the SBA and the Treasury Department released some data on what organizations won loans from the program and how much they received. (Some loans can be forgiven if the PPP money is spent on keeping employees on the payroll.)   view article arw

In 2015 the Washington Post shared this observation of privately-operated charter schools by a veteran public school official:  David Hornbeck was the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools from 1976 to 1988 and the superintendent of the Philadelphia school district from 1994 to 2000. For years he was a supporter of charter schools, seeing them as an important tool in the school reform arsenal, and as Philadelphia’s superintendent, he recommended that more than 30 charter schools be allowed to open. Now, in a reversal that is rare in education, he said this:  “The last 20 years make it clear I was wrong.”1  Hornbeck is one of many who have traveled this increasingly non-rare road of awakening. Many others have also experienced rude awakenings due to the large chasm between charter school hype and charter school realities.   (27) view article arw

Dallas ISD officials are pushing back on a charter school's plan to move its Oak Cliff campus to Paul Quinn College.  Officials at KIPP Oak Cliff Academy plan to move the high school, which is operating in a shopping center in Oak Cliff, to the college campus in the spring of 2021.  At a news conference Tuesday morning in front of the college, Dallas ISD trustee Maxie Johnson said the network was trying to "bully" its way into Oak Cliff without meeting with members of the community to discuss their plans. Johnson, whose district covers a large swathe of southern and western Dallas, said his constituents have told him they don't want the campus in their neighborhood.    (15) view article arw

The treatment of students with disabilities in the Texas public education system has all the ingredients for an emotional and disturbing HBO series. It involves politics, money, deception, denial, Federal investigations, lawsuits, questionable State contracts and the wrongful termination of a “whistleblower” at the Texas Education Agency (“TEA”). Unfortunately, it also involves the neglect of underprivileged students and families that rely upon and are guaranteed assistance from public schools. view article arw

HARLINGEN — Face to face, virtual, or a combination of both?  All of the above when Jubilee Harlingen opens for the new school year, says Flor Robinson, associate superintendent for Jubilee Academies — Rio Grande Valley.The nonprofit charter school organization has sent surveys to parents of all students. In those surveys, parents can indicate which instructional model they prefer for their children this school year. They can ask for their children to continue with online learning or come physically to class. There is also the hybrid model, which consists of both face to face and virtual instruction. view article arw