Accountability Charter Schools Education Industry Privatization Texas

Texas: IDEA Charter Chain Plans to Saturate El Paso Region with 20 New Charters

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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.

The IDEA charter chain is known for having a high graduation rate, but also known for the large number of its graduates who flunk out of college.

Knight and deMatthews write:

The development of 20 new schools represents a major shift in how educational resources will be distributed across the region. Currently, together the Canutillo Independent School District and the Clint ISD have only 24 schools and the El Paso ISD, the region’s largest school district, has 91 schools.

Adding 20 schools through the region can create significant inefficiencies. Districts like El Paso ISD and Ysleta ISD are currently losing enrollment as most of the region’s population growth exists on the East and West sides of the city. As enrollments decline, school districts lose money and operating schools becomes more expensive. Consequently, superintendents are often compelled to close under-enrolled schools due to cost, despite public outcry.

At the same time, districts like Clint, Canutillo, and Socorro are experiencing continued growth in student enrollments. These districts invest millions to plan and build new facilities. If new charters open in close proximity to newly built facilities, districts may find their state-of-the-art campuses under-enrolled.

IDEA’s growth can also create an undue burden and disrupt natural proportions of students with disabilities enrolled in traditional public schools if they engage in what has been called “creaming” or “cherry-picking” students. According to 2016-17 publicly available data, all IDEA charter schools in Hidalgo, Texas, enroll only 4.8 percent of students with disabilities, while the state average is 8.8 percent.

Importantly, the Texas statewide average is already the lowest in the nation at 8.8 percent. The Texas Education Agency has been investigated by the U.S. Department of Education, which concluded that many Texas schools and districts engaged in practices that delayed and denied special education to eligible students. IDEA’s 4.8 percent identification rate should be especially concerning to all parents, but especially those of children with disabilities.

Both traditional public and charter schools are eligible to receive philanthropic donations. IDEA has received millions of dollars from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The El Paso based Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development has pledged $10 million.

Yeah, both are “eligible to receive philanthropic donations,” but somehow all those big bucks end up in the pockets of the charter operators, not the public schools. The Dells, the Waltons, and the Gates don’t believe in public education. They believe in the marketplace, disruption, and competition. Not for their children, of course.

The authors think that charter schools are “public schools.” No, they are not. They are privately managed corporate schools. Federal courts have ruled that charter schools are “not state actors.” The NLRB has ruled that charter schools are “not state actors.”

Public schools are state actors. Charter schools are not state actors. They are private contractors.

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