Claycomb Associates, Architects

School choice, privately-operated charter schools and tuition-free public schools are words commonly used by the financial elite, political policy foundations and our elected representatives to describe the current education reform movement. In more transparent terms, the words refer to the orchestrated efforts to “privatize” the public schools in local communities, without the consent of taxpayers. To incorporate private enterprise into the Texas public school system, the State has created two separate education systems to operate in local communities from the same pool of taxpayer funding: locally governed, community-based school districts and State approved, privately-operated charter schools. The State’s unilateral decision to approve privately- operated charter schools to use tax dollars to operate separate schools within the boundaries of community-based school districts has imposed a system of “Local Taxation Without Local Representation” upon local taxpayers and local communities. view article arw

When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Dating back to 1954, the Better Business Bureau used this catchphrase to alert the public of shady business practices.  In the new era of school choice, this catchphrase can be used to alert the public of misleading business practices by charter schools in order to protect our most prized possessions — our children.  Every year, certain charters tout a 100 percent college acceptance rate as their major marketing pitch to lure parents away from traditional public schools. view article arw

Orleans Parish schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. on Monday announced his plan to close four charter schools where he had already halted enrollment. The news comes days after the state Department of Education released annual school ratings. Last week, Lewis said he planned to recommend closing Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy, saying the charter school’s governing board repeatedly failed — at a level he had never before seen — to comply with state and district policies and laws. And over the past few months, he strongly hinted that Medard Nelson Elementary School, William J. Fischer Elementary School and McDonogh 32 Elementary School would close at the end of the school year. Closing those four schools is exactly what he recommended on Monday. Last week, as school grades loomed, parents wondered whether their schools would close. State ratings weigh heavily in Lewis’ decision which directs the annual New Orleans’ annual charter school shake-up. Nelson, Fischer, and McDonogh 32 had all had F’s for several years in a row. view article arw

Over the last decade, the charter school movement gained a significant foothold in New York, demonstrating along the way that it could build fruitful alliances with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other prominent Democrats. The movement hoped to set a national example — if charter schools could make it in a deep blue state like New York, they could make it anywhere. view article arw

This is the final installment in Sue Legg’s series about twenty years of school choice in Florida. She is the former education Director of the Florida League of Women Voters and was assessment and evaluation contractor for the Fl. DOE for twenty years while on the faculty at the University of Florida. She writes: Twenty Years Later: The SociaI Impact of Privatization view article arw

From its founding in 2013, International Leadership of Texas has often bucked conventional charter school wisdom, expanding at an unprecedented rate and educating students in large, newly constructed facilities.  In the coming months, the state’s fastest-growing charter network, home to about 5,450 students in Greater Houston and another 13,000 throughout Texas, will break another barrier.  Texas leaders are orchestrating the issuance of up to $400 million in bonds — believed to be the largest such single-year transaction in U.S. history for a charter school — to purchase 13 campuses across the state this year, fulfilling long-held plans to take ownership from developers who constructed the buildings. view article arw

Seeing San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson on campus at IDEA Carver isn't particularly unusual for students.  "Since I've been here for a long time, when he comes to the school someone will say, 'I just saw David Robinson in the hallway,' and I'm like, 'That's the sixth time that's happened," senior Evelyn Biddy said. "It's not that big of a deal because he is just a normal person and he doesn't think he's all that."  A new program designed to cultivate student leaders through personal mentoring sessions with Robinson represents a whole new level of engagement with the Hall of Fame center who has worked to emphasize the value of education and leadership. view article arw

California, with 39.5 million people, and Texas, with 28.3 million, are two of America’s four majority-minority states, the other two being Hawaii and New Mexico. As such, the education systems’ effectiveness in the two most diverse states that 1-in-5 Americans calls home is of vital interest to the rest of the nation. Because of the high stakes involved in public education—student achievement as well as billions of dollars ($72.6 billion in taxpayer dollars were spent in California in 2016 and $45.9 billion in Texas) the rhetoric surrounding the issue tends to obscure facts on the ground—by design. view article arw

Denis Smith worked for many years for the Ohio Department of Education. When he retired, he was employed in the office that oversees charter schools. He has written many articles about the scams and frauds that charter operators get away with in Ohio, as well as some that they don’t get away with. He wrote me recently to say that the five most common words in charterdom are: view article arw

City welcomes new charter high school

November 0108:25 AM

School officials on Tuesday officially welcomed the public to the city’s newest high school, the Mid-Valley Academy Charter High School-Brownsville, a community-based alternative education school at 944 E. Los Ebanos Blvd. The school prides itself on taking a family oriented, student-centered approach to academics, Superintendent Frances Berrones-Johnson said. Classes began in August. Tuesday was the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony. view article arw

Laura Chapman, tireless researcher, did a cursory scan of the abundance of billionaire cash flowing into charter schools, enhanced by another $400 million from the U.S. Department of Education. There are literally dozens more foundations and organizations pouring money into the charter industry, such as Reed Hastings (Netflix), Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, John Arnold (ex-Enron), Michael Dell (computers), the Fisher Family (Old Navy, the Gap), and many more. view article arw

Imagine that a school district notifies parents that they must take their child to a location 60 miles from home for testing. Transportation will not be provided; parents are responsible for ensuring that their children arrive every day at their assigned testing site for up to a week, until all exams are complete. Families with multiple children may need to travel every day for two or three consecutive weeks, depending on the kids’ grade levels and the tests they must take. This may require making hotel arrangements and requesting leave from employers to ensure their child is present each day. view article arw

Tyler Classical Academy continues to grow, and a new high school is in the works to accommodate its climbing enrollment. The open-enrollment charter school, at 3405 E. Grande Blvd., has been in its current location for about two years, moving there after previously renting space from the Stepping Stone School. The new new high school is being built on the Grande Boulevard campus. It currently enrolls about 450 students in grades K through 10, and will add a new class next year. The first round of graduates will get to spend a year in the new $6 million, 37,000-square-foot high school after it opens in August. view article arw

Derek Black, a Law professor at the University of South Carolina, attended the Network for Public Education conference in Indianapolis and left convinced that the privatization movement is not going to survive. Read it all. It is an uplifting take on the future. He writes: view article arw

School started Oct. 1 at Blossoms Montessori School, located at 3700 Louetta Road, Spring, a representative said. view article arw

This article by Tom Ultican tells the sordid story of rich elites who have cynically decided to destroy public education in San Antonio.  They have cumulatively raised at least $200 million to attract charter operators to San Antonio, a figure which includes funding by the U.S. Department of Education and local plutocrats. The lead figure is a very wealthy woman named Victoria Rico, who sits on the boards of multiple charter chains. Rico and her friends have decided to re-engineer and privatize public education in San Antonio. Rico is working closely with Dan Patrick, the State’s lieutenant governor, who loves vouchers, hates public schools, and was the Rush Limbaugh of Texas before winning election to the State Senate. view article arw

Interesting article but I have lots of questions - js  This year, half the juniors at KIPP Renaissance High School in New Orleans are also freshmen at New York’s Bard College. They’re being taught by Bard faculty, all of whom have Ph.D.s, for free, on a Bard satellite campus set up on the high school’s top floors.  Unlike applicants to Bard’s traditional liberal arts college, interested KIPP sophomores don’t need to show a high grade point average or college entrance exam score. Instead, they participate in a college-style seminar where they can display their intellectual curiosity and motivation. view article arw

The superintendents of the region's two largest school districts called Tuesday for a “community conversation” about the impact of charter schools’ growth on traditional public school systems. They said recent losses of students to charters had hurt their enrollments and budgets to a degree that prompted both to seek a local government response.  In a meeting with the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board, Northside Independent School District’s Brian Woods and North East ISD’s Brian Gottardy suggested city and county governments can and should take action to slow or control charter school expansion. view article arw

Carl Cohn is one of the most respected educators in California. He has been a teacher, principal, and superintendent. He led Long Beach, where he earned a reputation as a calm problem solver. I got to know him when he was superintendent in San Diego, and I was researching the first district to embrace and impose top-down Corporate Reform. After voters booted out the Reformers, Carl was brought in to restore calm and trust. When Carl Cohn speaks, I listen. In this article, he tells the public what is at stake in the contest for Superintendent of Public Instruction in California. view article arw

The French School of San Antonio, originally set to open this fall, delayed its start date because of challenges securing a facility.Co-founder Katia Edrenkina told the Rivard Report that she and her business partner, Estelle De Oliveira, had to “make a tough call” to not open the school this year when Northeast Baptist Church backed out of a leasing agreement before it was signed. view article arw

VIDOR — Tropical Storm Harvey flooded two Vidor ISD schools, and the fate of those campuses was unknown.  We are now learning that FEMA has said yes to Vidor ISD to build a new school to replace the heavily-damaged Oak Forest Elementary School.  The federal government will fund the majority of the cost to replace the elementary school. view article arw

Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel writes here about a voucher school that is a sham, but the state doesn’t care. Does anyone in Florida care about accountability for taxpayers’ money, or about the quality of education? I urge you to subscribe to the Orlando Sentinel to follow its fearless coverage. I did. And remember, when you read this story, that this is what Betsy DeVos describes as the “best” state because she wants everyone to follow Florida’s example of charters, vouchers, and no accountability for public dollars. view article arw

It turns out that Bill Ackman is making good money in the most unexpected of places: financing charter schools for low-income kids. Since 2011, the billionaire hedge fund manager has invested $20 million of his own money in the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund, which was started by former tennis star Andre Agassi and has built 79 new charter schools in poor neighborhoods around the country. The impact investment, which Ackman made via his charitable foundation, has netted annual returns north of 10%. view article arw

This past summer I had opportunity to visit the Hawkins community schools in Los Angeles. What I haven’t talked about publicly is that I also was also invited to visit Magnolia Science Academy 3 (MSA3)   which is co-located at Curtiss Middle School in Carson California during the same trip. The Magnolia charters are affiliated with the Gulen schools, the second largest network of charters in the United States. view article arw

Oklahoma Watch reports that charter schools are facing increased pressure to grow, and many have lists of students waiting for space. Charter-school leaders say they can’t afford to build new buildings because, unlike district schools, state law doesn’t allow them to issue bonds or receive property taxes. The schools do receive state aid and federal funds. But charter officials are pushing harder to get more public dollars. The state Senate recently held an interim study on the topic of charter school funding, and a lawsuit filed last year against the State Board of Education seeking equitable charter-school funding is still pending. Nothing has been filed in the case since December, however. There is also talk of pushing legislation next year to address the issue. You can read the full story here.  view article arw

When it comes to traditional public schools and charter schools, many take sides — but Todd Williams says both models have strengths. He's president and CEO of The Commit Partnership, a Dallas-based nonprofit working to boost student outcomes in North Texas. He also helped establish Uplift Williams Preparatory, a Dallas charter school. During the Texas Tribune Festival, which just wrapped up in Austin, Williams was part of an education panel moderated by KERA's Krys Boyd. Listen to or read highlights from the panel below. view article arw

Impact of Charter Schools on Local Districts - Below is student enrollment and financial data for three neighboring schools: two traditional public schools and one charter school. Redland Oaks Elementary, Driscoll Middle School, and Great Hearts Northern Oaks are all located in San Antonio, Texas view article arw

The turmoil continues at one of Dallas’ largest and oldest charter schools as two more of the school’s top officials are out. On Thursday night, the Board of Directors of the A.W. Brown Leadership Academy voted to terminate the school’s chief financial officer. In an email to the CBS 11 News I-Team, Interim Superintendent Anthony Jefferson confirmed the board voted to terminate CFO James Montfort for insubordination. view article arw

First it was KIPP, then it was YES Prep and now IDEA has become the point of the destroy public education (DPE) spear in Texas. KIPP flourished because GAP founders Don and Doris Fisher gave them big money. YES Prep so excited Oprah that she presented them with a million dollar check during a TV interview. Now, John Arnold has given IDEA $10 million to expand into Houston and the El Paso based Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development has pledged another $10 million for IDEA to expand into El Paso. view article arw

Over the summer, Families Empowered, a nonprofit group that helps Texas families navigate their school choice options, revealed an eye-popping number. For the 2017-18 school year, San Antonio families submitted nearly 40,000 applications to the city’s three largest charter school networks: Great Hearts Texas, KIPP San Antonio (now KIPP Texas), and IDEA Public Schools. Six years ago, those networks combined enrolled some 800 San Antonio students, according to Choose to Succeed, a group working to attract charter schools to the city. Today, the organization puts the number of students in schools it supports at 16,600. The goal is 60,000 by 2026. view article arw

The start of the 2018-19 school year brought a new charter school to the Cy-Fair area. Tuition-free public charter school system YES Prep opened its newest location this August at 14741 Yorktown Plaza Drive—near the Beltway 8 and Hwy. 290 intersection—with a founding class of 145 sixth-graders, Director Laura Washington Dugan said. This is the 18th campus for the Houston-based school system, which launched in 1998. view article arw

The IDEA charter chain has plans to open 20 new charter schools in a part of Texas that doesn’t need them. We have plenty of evidence that charters do not outperform traditional district schools. Instead, they suck out resources and the students they want, weakening the district schools like a parasite. David Knight and David deMatthews warn the people of El Paso that “choice” is not all that it is cracked up to be. You will not be surprised to learn that IDEA is funded by the usual billionaire “philanthropists,” who want to disrupt public education and privatize it. view article arw

Charters that take everyone’s tax dollars but are no longer subject to all stakeholder input = taxpayers are no longer stakeholders. In Texas, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has been re-drafting its charter application process and requirements and included only pro-charter organizations in “stakeholder” meetings.  This communication came from a source in Texas:   view article arw

IDEA Public Charter Schools plans to open 20 campuses across El Paso over the next five years. The expansion will provide students with additional educational choices and may stimulate competition with traditional public schools, but local residents need to be mindful of how such significant growth might impact public education across the city and for all of its students. First, it is important for local residents to understand that researchers consistently find that public charter schools and traditional public schools perform at similar levels, view article arw

Long, long ago, almost everyone went to the neighborhood public school. The school had a principal, who was overseen by the superintendent. The superintendent answered to a local school board. Those were not idyllic times, to be sure, but no one ever imagined that there was profit to be found in the public schools, or that the public schools would one day be part of “the education industry.” All that is changed now. There are still neighborhood public schools, but now there is an industry that relies on entrepreneurs and market forces. You don’t have to be an educator to manage or operate or start a charter school (think tennis star Andre Agassi or football hero Deion Sanders). There are tax breaks for investors in charter schools. Charter school properties are bought and sold, like franchises or just ordinary real estate. They have no organic connection to the local community. The profit for entrepreneurs is to be found in the real estate transactions. view article arw