Charter school applications to face scrutiny in upcoming meetings, and a coalition of public ed supporters weighs in on charter expansion

You can view a map of existing charter schools on the TEA website.

The Texas Education Agency is preparing its system to evaluate new charter-school applicants and expansion of existing charters, and Texas AFT will be scrutinizing that process at every step.

First, charter applicants will be holding a series of public meetings to allow the public to ask questions of charter operators. Good questions to ask include: “How will the charter be prepared to educate students with special needs?” “Will the charter accept students with a history of discipline problems?”​  “Will transportation be provided?” “What is the exact location of the proposed campus and how will it impact existing neighborhood public schools?” You can find a list of the meetings scheduled here.

Meanwhile, Texas AFT joined 16 other public education organizations to make unified comments for proposed changes to how TEA evaluates applications for charter amendments, the process which allows for existing charter operators to add new campuses. As expected, TEA continues its push to promote charter expansion by making the approval process of these amendments even easier than it is now.  Our comments note that the proposed rules:

“Provide more leeway for the proliferation and expansion of certain open-enrollment charter   schools without due consideration of their impact on the best interests of all Texas public school students….This proposal has the potential to escalate the dramatic rise in costs to the state for charter schools. Unless the proposed rules are intended to reduce charter schools by the same number as the expansions they create, they cannot be revenue neutral to the state….This proposal also imposes costs on local governments. When a student leaves a school district for a charter school, many fixed costs remain, with less funding, resulting in higher costs per student.” You can read our comments, which also address charter school performance, here.