Education Reform

Texas: Charter Industry Encounters Obstacles to Growth

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The charter industry has set a target on Texas as a new frontier for expansion. With a rightwing Governor and state commissioner who support privatization of public money meant for public schools, the outlook was bright. The state leadership doesn’t care that public schools outperform charter schools and close down with alarming frequency. The big-money fellas don’t care about violating local control or the corporatization of an essential public service. This is a state where a charter chain wanted to lease a private jet for $2 million a year, spent $400,000 on box seats for San Antonio Spurs basketball games, and the CEO left office with a $1 million golden parachute.

As our friends the Pastors for Texas Children reports, the charter lobby fell short this year.


PASTORS FOR TEXAS CHILDREN PRAISES
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION FOR BLOCKING CHARTER SCHOOLS


The Texas State Board of Education took the unusual step of denying four of the seven new charter school applications today.


California-based Rocketship Charter Schools barely passed on an 8-7 vote, only after an unprecedented push from moneyed Fort Worth interests and last-minute lobbying from Governor Greg Abbott.


This vote comes on the heels of the 87th Legislative session that saw a record 39 charter bills filed. Only one significant charter bill passed, after a procedural slight of hand when many anti-charter members were off the floor and could not vote.


All in all, the charter juggernaut has ground to a halt in Texas.


“We have taken a huge step forward in exposing the corruption of charters—and equating them with the waste
& violation of vouchers,” PTC executive director Rev. Charles Foster Johnson said.


“We still have a long way to go. It is contrary to everything Texans stand for to turn our children’s education over to the control of out-of-state interests—especially those located in California!”


There is no evidence that charter schools outperform traditional neighborhood and community public schools. Many charters fail and fold after several years due to poor educational quality and control. The mediocre oversight of charters has produced a pattern of waste and corruption that is unacceptable.


PTC joins a growing chorus of public education advocates in calling for an extensive study and review of our state’s charter school policy, which has morphed into something far afield from the original intent of charters. Good financial stewardship demands that charter expansion in Texas cease until this inventory can occur.


We thank Dr. Keven Ellis and the State Board of Education for their careful listening to many voices on both sides of the charter issue this week, as well as their careful deliberation.


And we call on all public education stakeholders to unify around the moral and constitutional duty before God to “make suitable provision for public free schools.”
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Pastors for Texas Children mobilizes the faith community for public school assistance and advocacy.
PO Box 471155 – Fort Worth, Texas 76147 http://www.pastorsfortexaschildren.com

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