Katie Perkins picks up her grandkids every day from Fehl-Price Elementary. After school, they have their daily routines. "We get our homework, and then today is Wednesday, so we have to go to church," said Perkins. She's learned that the upcoming school year could be a little different for them. If approved, Fehl-Price teachers would be working with charter operators. view article arw

The Beaumont school board approved to create a partnership with charter operators to run three schools in danger of closing due to 'low performance'. The school district had over 30 programs express interest in taking over Fehl-Price elementary, Jones-Clark Elementary and Smith Middle School. view article arw

Thanks to a proclamation from Gov. Abbot, Jan. 20-26 has been officially declared School Choice Week in Texas. Gov. Abbot's proclamation joins him with more than a dozen governors and hundreds of city and county leaders nationwide who have issued similar proclamations. School choice supporters have planned 4,927 events and activities across Texas to raise awareness about the educational opportunities parents have, or want to have, for their kids. These events include rallies, roundtable discussions, coffeehouse meet-ups, festivals, school fairs, and more. More than 40,000 events have been independently planned for the week nationwide, raising awareness about opportunity in education. view article arw

The Beaumont school board is considering allowing three of its campuses to be run by charter schools. The Beaumont Independent School District board will be considering the option at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday at 6 p.m.If approved the district will enter into an "SB1882 partnership" and allow two charter schools to run Fehl-Price and Jones-Clark Elementary Schools as well as Smith Middle School according to items on the meeting agenda. view article arw

In 2013, I published a post with this headline: “Why charter schools need better oversight.” The author of the piece, Jeff Bryant, wrote: There are undoubtedly wonderful charter schools in existence, and Americans generally have a favorable opinion of charters, but hardly a week goes by without news of a scandal or a study tarnishing their image. ...  view article arw

Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat here describes the spread of the gospel of the “portfolio model” of schooling.In his article, Barnum shows how Indianapolis has fallen hook, line, and sinker for privatization of its public schools.  I first heard the term used by Paul Hill of the Center for the Reinvention of Public Education at the University of Washington, a leading thinker in the privatization movement.  The basic idea is that school boards should treat their schools as if they were a stock portfolio. Some will be public schools run by the district; others will be privately managed. If a school gets low scores, close it and open a new one.  view article arw

For some reason, Texas is now being besieged by charter operators, who see good pickings there and who want to act fast before another blue wave washes away the supporters of school choice, as the November blue wave washed away supporters of vouchers. The Texas legislature cut deeply into school funding after the 2008 recession and never restored what it cut. The legislature just doesn’t seem to care about funding public school, only charter and (someday) vouchers, even though 90% of the state’s children are in public schools. Someone should ask the Legislature about what they have in mind for the generation now in school. Do they want them to be productive citizens? Do they want them to be creators, innovators, doctors, scientists, artists, and engineers? Or do they expect those millions of children to be unskilled laborers? view article arw

Lorena Garcia, assistant superintendent for human resources and support services at Mission CISD, sparked a lively debate over the level of support state lawmakers are providing charter schools. Garcia brought up the subject of charters in a Q&A about public school finance at a luncheon held at the Cimarron Club in Mission. “There does not seem to be much support for public education by the legislature. In addition to that there is a lot of talk about support for vouchers and private schools,” Garcia said, after hearing a presentation on public school finance. view article arw

Carol Burris explains here why charter schools can never be reformed. Here is reason number one. 1. Freedom from regulations and oversight through public governance has resulted in persistent and undeniable patterns of waste and fraud. For the past year, the Network for Public Education, the nonprofit advocacy group of which I am executive director, has been tracking charter school scandals, posting news accounts here. Frankly, we have been shocked by the frequency and seriousness of scandals that are the result of greed, lack of oversight or incompetence. The independent California-based watchdog group, In the Public Interest, estimated alleged and confirmed fraud in California’s charter sector has topped $149 million, a figure it describes as “only the tip of the iceberg.” view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 70 students walked out of Austin charter schools programmed by the non-profit Southwest Key to attend a school board meeting Monday. East Austin College Prep, programmed by Southwest Key as part of its Promesa Public Schools program, faces a budget shortfall of $550,000 according to board members and the Superintendent at the meeting. The students walked out of class to support a plan by the Superintendent Jaime Huerta and to criticize the CEO of Southwest Key, Juan Sanchez, for having a salary around $1.5 million."That is more than the CEO of the Red Cross," said Yamilet Perez, a student protest organizer. The root of the problem for East Austin College Prep is its funding plan was built on having 800 students but board members explained at the meeting they have just more than 630.  Superintendent Huerta proposed to "vacate" most of the MLK campus and possibly rent the space out in order to stave off employee  view article arw

KIPP Texas plans on opening a new high school in San Antonio next school year.  The public charter school network said KIPP Somos Collegiate will open with a 160-student ninth-grade class and add a grade each year. The school will open at 731 Fredericksburg Road, just east of Beacon Hill Academy, but will eventually relocate to a permanent facility. While no location is finalized, the school will likely stay within Loop 410 on the Northwest Side, the school's founding principal said. view article arw

Repost! - K12 INC., THE controversial for-profit virtual charter school operator, plans to pivot its entire platform to career education and has laid the groundwork to offer the new programs in 40 states over the next three years.  "This is a pivot, absolutely," says Kevin Chavous, president of academics, policy and schools at K12. "We were the first ones to do the online education in a big way. Now, this is a pivot where we have a laser focus on academics and student growth, but the corresponding focus on [career] gives kids more opportunity than they otherwise wouldn't have. view article arw

Charter schooling has long been buffeted by conflicting pressures: the desire to protect the autonomy that allows an array of diverse and vibrant schools to flourish, and the concern that a lack of oversight will give license to grifters and mediocrities. The crucial task of securing one and protecting against the other has been given to charter school authorizers. Full disclosure, I’ve spent close to a decade serving on the board of directors for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), an outfit charged with promoting quality authorizing. The challenge: “Quality authorizing” can become an excuse for micromanagement. After all, the easiest thing in the world is to insist on one more thing that someone else should do or one more rule that they should follow.  view article arw

The privatization movement used to operate in stealth. It used to pretend to have grassroots support. Those days are over. As the public catches on to the empty promises of the charter industry and its intention to undermine democratic institutions, the charter funders have created a SWAT team to infiltrate targeted cities across the nation, promote charter schools, and buy their school boards. These guys are not the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. They are paid vandals, on a mission to destroy public schools. They are out to destroy not just public schools, but local democracy. They should be ashamed. Usually, it is illegal to buy elections. This so-called City Fund brashly announces that it has raised nearly $200 million—with more on the way—to disrupt public schools and buy elections. How is this legal? view article arw

Trustees for Longview ISD will consider a plan for its charter schools following a public hearing Monday night. The district partnered with nonprofit organization East Texas Advanced Academies in June to operate and manage several campuses. Board members voted Wednesdayto expand the charter roster to seven of the district’s 13 schools. view article arw

I previously reported that Arizona legislator Eddie Farnsworth was making a bundle by selling his for-profit charter chain to a nonprofit charter chain for millions of dollars, and that he had selected the members of the board of the new nonprofit and would get a contract from that board to manage the charter schools. All in all, a triumph of self-dealing.  Now new details have emerged about what a sweet deal this is for Mr. Farnsworth. view article arw

Facing a possible state freeze on the expansion of charter schools and state plans to review those that already exist, students, teachers, faculty and others staged a march through the streets last month to highlight future potential threats. Charter school advocates believe the review may be an excuse to eventually cut back or even do away with character schools in the state. The march started at BelovEd School on Grant Street and went to the Team Walker Center where state officials were taking public input about the future of charter schools, not just in Jersey City and Hudson County, but throughout the state. view article arw

Journalists are told to “follow the money,” and it seems only fair the same adage be applied to education. A new report from the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas does just that, comparing the levels and sources of funding between traditional public schools (TPS) and charter schools in some of our nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Faithfully following the money, the authors finding a whopping $5,835 annual advantage for each TPS student. view article arw

The Unity Charter School suddenly closed, without any advance notice to parents, students, or teachers. Parents at Unity Charter School are having to look for new arrangements for their children after the school suddenly closed Thursday and is being foreclosed on. Parents received an automated message Wednesday evening reporting that there would be no school Thursday, due to circumstances beyond their control. Calls and emails to the school on Thursday received no response. A bank foreclosed on the property for nonpayment on the mortgage. The property will be auctioned off in a few weeks. School leaders had some personal financial issues involving misuse of school funds that turned up in an audit last year, but none rose to the level of criminal acts. view article arw

A nonprofit organization will operate and manage seven Longview ISD campuses after trustees voted Tuesday to modify its charter school partnership. In June, the district partnered with East Texas Advanced Academies, a nonprofit organization registered to Hearne ISD Superintendent Adrain Johnson, to operate and manage charters at several campuses. Longview ISD started exploring the Senate Bill 1882 Innovative Partnership in early January, spokeswoman Elizabeth Ross said. view article arw

Open enrollment charter schools, which last year received up to $2.5 billion in taxpayer funds in Texas, are immune from a law that all public schools must follow, requiring them to make public the terms of important contracts. “Charters are just not held as accountable as we are, and any time they bring up accountability for charters in [the] legislature, there is an element that steps on it,” said Troy Reynolds, an educator and advocate for Texas public schools.  The provision requires that public entities report all contracts that must be approved by a governing board or that are worth more than $1 million. view article arw

Longview ISD trustees will consider adding J.L. Everhart Elementary to the district’s charter school roster this morning.  In June, the district partnered with East Texas Advanced Academies, a nonprofit organization, to operate and manage charters at several campuses.  Trustees also are set to officially transfer existing charters for Bramlette and Ware elementary schools and East Texas Montessori Prep Academy to the nonprofit organization.

If 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 to shady business practices.  In the new era of school choice, this catchphrase can be used to alert the public about misleading business practices by charter schools in order to protect our most prized possessions — our children. 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

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