Charter-School Expansion Bill Passes in Texas Senate, With Diminished Support

A 24-to-7 state Senate vote for charter-school expansion today shows a decline in support for charter expansion since the 30-to-1 approval of a similar bill in 2009. The bill is SB 127 by Sen. Dan Patrick, Republican of Houston. It authorizes charter holders to create new campuses under the same charter without prior approval from the state, and it allows a dozen new charters to be issued each year.

The Senate, for good reason, seems increasingly uneasy about the proliferation of charter schools without adequate quality control or sufficient state capacity to oversee these privately operated, publicly funded schools. We hope this trend in the Senate signals to the House a need for continued sober scrutiny of the mediocre-to-poor record compiled by most Texas charter schools over the past 15 years. The bottom line is that Texas needs high-quality charter schools, not just more charter schools, and SB 127 as passed by the Senate provides for charter expansion without sufficient quality control. Senators voting against the charter-expansion bill on final passage were:  Republican Robert Nichols of Jacksonville and Democrats Mario Gallegos of Houston, Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, Jose Rodriguez of El Paso, Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, Royce West of Dallas, and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo.