The SBOE School Initiatives Committee met Thursday to discuss improvements to the charter school application process recently implemented by the Texas Education Agency. The changes were the result of recommendations made by a 16-member group of public education organizations, including Texas AFT, unified to support more accountability and transparency for charter schools.
Texas AFT testified in support of the recent improvements to transparency and to request additional measures to enhance the accountability of the charter industry. One example we cited is a loophole in state law allowing charters to lease instead of purchase school facilities with state funds. The charter industry has found that an affiliate could first purchase a building then the charter could lease it using state funds to pay above-market rates. The state would have no ownership of a building even after paying millions in leases.
Texas AFT demanded this process be stopped at the application level and more weight should be given to how and where applicants plan to place their schools.