Huckabee | Architecture | Engineering | Management

The IDEA charter chain has received hundreds of millions in federal funding to expand. It has garnered a lot of attention, however, for its caviar tastes. The IDEA board approved a management proposal to lease a private jet for nearly $2 million a year, for the convenience of its executives. Not like your average school board or superintendent!  But their luxury tastes have not been curbed by the negative reaction private jet problem. view article arw

Last October, the CEO and president of the largest charter school company in Texas took a trip to Houston. They didn’t travel the way most public-school employees would have. Instead, they traveled by private jet, their spouses and five children came along for the trip, and they got around Houston not by Uber or rent car, but in a chauffeured SUV.  That trip was just one item in an $800,000 bill that IDEA Public Schools racked up between 2017 and 2019 on private jets and other luxe travel spending. Although IDEA received $319 million from the State of Texas and $71 million in federal money in 2018, this kind of travel would be illegal for public school district and state employees in Texas. Traditional public-school supporters and charter school advocates alike say it’s the kind of spending that gives a black eye to the charter school concept. view article arw

Several former leaders of South San Antonio Independent School District, which was disrupted by trustee infighting last year and now faces a state investigation, have joined charter school start-ups that want to open campuses in the district’s back yard. view article arw

The charter industry is nearing a flection point. The number of schools that open each year is almost the same as the number that close. The charter industry is rushing to open new schools before the public is fully woke to the crisis of charter corruption.  The Network for Public Education started a hashtag (#) on Twitter called #AnotherDayAnotherCharterScandal. Every day a new scandal, sometimes two or three. view article arw

The rezoning of up to nine Leander ISD elementary schools in August 2021 is in its beginning stages, and LISD parents have already started expressing concerns. At the Feb. 27 regular meeting, Leander ISD’s board of trustees approved an attendance zoning charter, which will be used to develop detailed elementary school enrollment zones that will be enacted in the 2021-22 school year. view article arw

This editorial appeared in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, a newspaper that has paid close attention to the scandals and frauds in the charter industry.  It begins:  Operators of two Indiana charter schools spent nearly $86 million in tax dollars at businesses in which they had ties. The money came from state tuition support for students who, in some cases, were never enrolled in the schools.  This is the school choice Indiana lawmakers celebrate – a breathtaking violation of the public trust. view article arw

At least one Longview ISD trustee did not know about Superintendent James Wilcox’s connection with a nonprofit organization seeking to operate district schools as charter campuses when she voted to allow him to begin negotiations with the group.  Ava Welge confirmed this past week that she was unaware of Wilcox’s link to the International Center for Academics and Technology.  view article arw

The only public charter school in Johnson County will close its doors on Friday.  According to a report by the Cleburne Times-Review, the Texas Education Agency revoked Kauffman Leadership Academy's charter due to financial issues.  The school first opened in August 2016 with 91 students and 14 teachers, the Times-Review reported. view article arw

TEA revokes KLA’s charter

February 1908:40 AM
 

Johnson County’s first and only public charter school, Kauffman Leadership Academy, will close its doors on Friday.  The Texas Education Agency has revoked the school’s charter, and Superintendent/CEO Theresa Kauffman said she, her husband, Greg, and the students are devastated by the news.  The Kauffmans plan on keeping the homeschool program and possibly creating a private school in the near future.  view article arw

About 30 public schools in Broward County may close due to loss of students to charter schools.  The original purpose of charter schools was to collaborate with public schools, not to destroy them. Unfortunately, the charter industry is so well represented in the legislature that they have a distinctive edge over real public schools. The wife of the State Commissiomer of Educatuon Richard Corcoran runs a charter school.  About 30 Broward schools could close, combine with other schools or convert into a new type of facility as the school district looks for ways to deal with nearly half-empty campuses. view article arw

Parents are passionate about their child’s education and school. This passion has been on display as Austin ISD (“AISD”) makes plans to close 4 well performing schools. Parents, taxpayers and stakeholders have voiced their frustrations and concerns to AISD’s Board of Trustees and Administration through many public meetings. No sane person would willingly subject themselves to the widespread public criticism and hostility that is associated with closing a public school. For AISD leaders, a “root canal” would have likely been more enjoyable. But one thing has been missing from the conversation, which is why is Austin ISD closing the schools. view article arw

The high-profile co-founder of a nationally acclaimed charter school network faced a de facto trial this week in Austin over a sexual abuse allegation that cost him his job in 2018.  The case wasn’t a criminal one. Instead, it was an administrative hearing to determine if Michael Feinberg, the longtime face of KIPP and a well-known figure in Houston, can keep his Texas educator certificate. view article arw

A Lewisville-based educational company with 70 campuses throughout Texas and Arkansas has its sights set on building a new academy in Round Rock.  The city's Planning and Zoning Commission last week approved a concept plan for a 30-acre tract on East Old Settlers Boulevard just east of A.W. Grimes Boulevard. Titled "Round Rock Founders Academy," the plan involves an open enrollment charter school from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, according to city documents. view article arw

Every single charter school in the United States of America is either a disaster or a disaster waiting to happen - Stop kidding yourself. Charter schools are a bad deal.  It doesn’t matter if they’re for-profit or nonprofit.  It doesn’t matter if they’re cyber or brick-and-mortar institutions.  It doesn’t matter if they have a history of scandal or success.  Every single charter school in the United States of America is either a disaster or a disaster waiting to happen.  The details get complicated, but the idea is really quite simple.  It goes like this. view article arw

The charter school world was certain it had faithful supporters in President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. After all, the pair made “school choice” their No. 1 education priority. DeVos has spent decades working to expand the charter sector. And Trump and DeVos repeatedly proposed boosting charter school funding, without giving a hint that federal funding of charters would be in danger under their watch.  Now, some leaders in the charter world, including the head of the nation’s largest charter school organization, are furious at them. view article arw

The Longview ISD superintendent who was appointed by the board of trustees to negotiate with nonprofit organizations that applied to run district campuses as charter schools created one of the nonprofits. The school board on Jan. 29 approved Superintendent James Wilcox to go into negotiations with applicants to take over campuses as Senate Bill 1882 charter schools. view article arw

IDEA Public Schools recently canceled a multimillion-dollar lease for a private jet and San Antonio Spurs tickets after a wave of negative backlash. State officials should dig a bit deeper to ensure IDEA and other charter management organizations, or CMOs, operating in Texas are behaving ethically and in the best interest of all Texas students.  Representatives from IDEA have said the money for the private jet and Spurs tickets came from donations. Its CEO said the jet and the tickets were acquired to reward committed educators and reduce workload for organization members who may have to visit IDEA schools across Texas, Louisiana and Florida. view article arw

Numerous inequalities characterize societies in which the majority produce the wealth but only a handful own it. The so-called “achievement gap” is mainly an expression of the harsh social class divide in society that keeps growing.  One of the conceited claims of charter school advocates is that privately-owned-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools will close the nagging “achievement gap” in America. Charter schools are supposedly a panacea because they will “out-perform” America’s “failing” public schools, rescue kids, empower parents, and provide a brighter future for all. view article arw

Local school boards should have more authority in approving proposed charter schools and parents of students attending the charters should have a larger role on the schools’ governing boards.   Those were two of the suggestions contained within a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which reviewed problems with Alabama’s charter school law and the uneven results the law has produced.  view article arw

IDEA Public Schools CEO Tom Torkelson announced last week additional measures designed to rein in spending on luxury purchases made by the organization that’s drawn the public’s ire in recent months.  The changes include a decision not to renew a deal with the San Antonio Spurs that included tickets and box seats at the AT&T Center to reward students and staff with games and concerts, a policy that bars IDEA from paying for private air travel and a rule that strengthens conflict-of-interest policies that apply to board members and senior staff. view article arw

IDEA Public Schools recently cancelled a multimillion-dollar lease for a private jet and San Antonio Spurs tickets after a wave of negative backlash. State officials should dig a bit deeper to ensure IDEA and other charter management organizations, or CMOs, operating in Texas are behaving ethically and in the best interest of all Texas students.  Representatives from IDEA claim that the money for the private jet and Spurs tickets came from donations. IDEA’s CEO claimed that both the jet and the tickets were acquired to reward committed educators and reduce workload for organization members who may have to visit IDEA schools across Texas, Louisiana and Florida. view article arw

Imagine a taxpayer funded school that denies enrollment to certain students and has the goal of maintaining a “solid wait list”. Imagine a taxpayer funded school that will only serve students in areas that are willing to provide substantial “private financial incentives”. Imagine a school with a growth strategy to serve enough students to create a core of community leaders to change the local public-school system. view article arw

State officials for the first time voted to consider revoking a public charter school’s right to operate in Alabama, which could bring an end to a controversial school in south Alabama before it ever opens.  Today's vote by the Alabama Public Charter School Commission denied a request by Woodland Prep officials to extend the deadline to obtain a certificate of occupancy for the school. That denial opened the door for the Commission to begin revocation procedures. view article arw

Several weeks after IDEA Public Schools nixed plans to spend millions of dollars on a charter jet lease, the charter network’s leader announced the end of additional “hard to defend” spending practices Thursday, including the purchase of tickets and a luxury box for events at San Antonio’s AT&T Center.  In a letter sent to IDEA’s 7,000-plus employees, CEO Tom Torkelson apologized for spending patterns that have brought unflattering attention to the state’s largest charter school organization. The network’s since-reversed decision to ink an eight-year aircraft lease and its spending on San Antonio Spurs games have drawn criticism from the Texas AFT, an umbrella organization for teachers unions throughout the state. view article arw

Several weeks after IDEA Public Schools nixed plans to spend millions of dollars on a charter jet lease, the charter network’s leader announced the end of additional “hard to defend” spending practices Thursday, including the purchase of tickets and a luxury box for events at San Antonio’s AT&T Center.  In a letter sent to IDEA’s 7,000-plus employees, CEO Tom Torkelson apologized for spending patterns that have brought unflattering attention to the state’s largest charter school organization. The network’s since-reversed decision to ink an eight-year aircraft lease and its spending on San Antonio Spurs games have drawn criticism from the Texas AFT, an umbrella organization for teachers unions throughout the state. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Researchers at UT Austin have compiled numbers that show charter school enrollment in Austin has ballooned in recent years. The numbers also highlight that the percentages of Black and Hispanic students at Austin’s charter schools are greater than the percentages of Black and Hispanic students at Austin’s traditional public schools.  These numbers were pulled together in a brief by the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis (IUPRA) at UT’s College of Liberal Arts Published January 24. These numbers seemed especially relevant to the researchers invol view article arw

The new year is bringing calls for new scrutiny of the charter school sector as the bipartisan support it once enjoyed has been fracturing, with many Democrats turning against the movement they had supported.  In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolfe (D) had pledged to tighten lax ethics rules and give school districts the right to limit enrollment at charters that don’t offer a high-quality education — and now nearly 30 superintendents are calling on him to fulfill that promise, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.  In Oklahoma, legislation has been filed for the 2020 session to limit funding for virtual charter schools and tighten regulation of them at a time when the state’s largest virtual charter is under investigation over fraud allegations, News4 reported. view article arw

The founder of a now-closed Houston charter school network failed to properly disclose more than $1 million in payments to his brother’s companies and used taxpayer funds to cover costs associated with a timeshare in Hawaii, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. Richard S. Rose, who served as superintendent, CEO and chief financial officer of Zoe Learning Academy, was arrested Wednesday after a grand jury returned an 18-count indictment against him. The charter school enrolled several hundred students per year at campuses in Houston’s Third Ward and Duncanville, a city south of Dallas, prior to its abrupt closure in 2017. view article arw

Montgomery's first charter school faces yet another hurdle as the education service provider for LEAD Academy ceased operations at the school several months ago.  Unity School Services, a Texas based non-profit, signed a five-year contract with LEAD to provide services that are similar to a central office, including completing the school's payroll, ensuring compliance standards are met and conducting student assessments.   Board President Charlotte Meadows confirmed Tuesday morning that Unity stopped providing services to the school around early December.  view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Education Agency is expected to approve new standards for charter schools in the direction of the legislature.  When approved, charter school organizations that meet certain standards will be encouraged to add more campuses. Both supporters and critics say it will encourage large networks like Kipp, IDEA, and Harmony to open up more campuses.  KIPP has several charter schools in Austin. view article arw

Imagine a taxpayer funded school that denies enrollment to certain students and has the goal of maintaining a “solid wait list”. Imagine a taxpayer funded school that will only serve students in areas that are willing to provide substantial “private financial incentives”. Imagine a school with a growth strategy to serve enough students to create a core of community leaders to change the local public-school system. view article arw

Amid protests from teachers groups and public school advocates, Texas education officials are rewriting the state's rules for approving new charter schools in order to speed up the process and allow some charter operators to expand more quickly and with less state oversight.  The Texas Education Agency solicited comments at a hearing Monday in Austin on proposed changes that would create a new scoring system to fast-track expansion of the highest-performing charters while prohibiting the lowest-rated ones from opening new schools.  A coalition of advocacy groups and teachers associations argued at the hearing that the state should instead put up more roadblocks to slow expansion of charter schools, which are managed by nonprofits but funded by the state. view article arw

ALVIN — Students in Brazoria County can attend a traditional public school, a private school or be homeschooled, but one choice students in southern Brazoria County do not currently have is attending a charter school in the area. Community officials are now looking to change that. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas — Charter schools are taking a toll on Austin ISD's wallet, according to a new budget analysis the school board discussed Monday night.  The district's finance office reported charter school enrollment has more than doubled in Texas over the past seven years – and that's cost AISD about $100 million in revenue. view article arw

Introduction: Promoted as an “education reform” to improve the learning of economically disadvantaged students, the Texas Legislature and the Commissioner of Education have been approving the expansion of privately-operated charters (“charters”) across the State of Texas. Charters are taxpayer funded, privately managed organizations that the State approves to independently operate schools in locally governed school districts. As such, charters are free to aggressively recruit students to garner the per student taxpayer funding of $10,525 from local school districts. The privatization of Texas public schools is big business. Charters will receive $3.28 billion of taxpayer funding this year. But the State does not regulate the recruiting tactics of charters and the State does not consider the best interests of students, families and taxpayers as it approves charters to rapidly expand in local communities. For example, the State is approving charters with “C” academic ratings to expand in school districts that have State provided academic ratings of “A”. view article arw