On Friday, September 11, the State Board of Education (SBOE) will have the opportunity to veto any or all of eight new charters, awarded by the unelected commissioner of education, which include 18 new charter school campuses. Many of the eight new charter applicants propose to locate within the boundaries of already high-performing neighborhood school districts. This does not make sense financially or academically. Also, communities have shown little interest at most applicants’ public meetings but have shown high amounts of opposition because of the harm new charters pose to existing public schools.
Yesterday, 20 public education advocacy organizations sent a joint letter to the SBOE to plead with the board to consider vetoing the approval of these eight new, unneeded, and unwanted charter schools that would exacerbate the state’s budget crisis, harm school districts, and send Texas tax dollars out of state. The groups asked that the SBOE consider the incremental cost of the applicants’ 18 new campuses—and their potential future expansions—in the context of the mounting cost of charter expansions. You can read the full letter here.
Because each student who leaves a school district to enroll in a charter school costs the state, on average, $1,150 more (the “charter school advantage”), approving this new slate of charters could cost Texas school districts an estimated $750 million in revenue and could send about $61 million Texas tax dollars to California, Florida, and New York corporations over ten years. And this would come at a time when neighborhood public schools are stretching every dollar to make up for the lack of additional state support during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Texas AFT will testify at the SBOE meeting in support of the board exercising its veto on all eight new charter applicants. Find the SBOE member for your area at this link and write to ask them to VETO all eight new charter applicants!
Interactive Charter Map
Speaking of rapid charter expansion, our friends at Raise Your Hand Texas have developed an interactive map showing the substantial expansion of charter schools throughout Texas from 1997 to 2018, culminating in the whopping $3.1 billion annual price tag for taxpayers for these unaccountable, scandal-riddled charter operators. The interactive map also allows users to see the effects of rapid charter expansion on individual school districts.