Archives for category: Charters

A letter from a reader notes a worrisome trend in Texas, where money talks loud:

Diane,

Maybe we have a new potential hero in Texas, Representative Lon Burnam.

I received this Alert this week from his office concerning the proliferation of Charters in Texas and the potential harm to district credit ratings (financing for new construction). I have previously been contacted by a person doing research for him concerning a presentation I was doing at the TASA-TASB conference this last September titled “School Reform and the Danger To Our communities”. (Diane, I promise I did not plagiarize your book, I had to submit the proposal early last summer!) This contact was very helpful and supportive. By the way, my session was well attended (150) and attendees, particularly school board members, were very attentive. I have been asked to present now to local superintendents and a northeast Texas School Board gathering. The ALERT is below.

ED-ALERT
OCTOBER 23, 2013
VOLUME 33

The latest news on education in Texas from
State Representative Lon Burnam, District 90

IN THIS ISSUE:

Moody’s finds increased charter enrollment may endanger local district credit ratings

Make your voice heard on charter applications:

State Board of Education on November 20, 2013

As the State Board of Education meets to consider whether to grant final approval or veto the charter applications tentatively approved by the Commissioner of Education, I want to highlight three recent news articles that make it very clear why we should pay close attention to charter school enrollment and expansion in local school districts.

A study conducted by Moody’s Investor Service describes the downward spiral that may result from increased charter enrollment in urban districts. It’s critical that we understand the long‐term impact that increased charter enrollment may have on local school districts so that we can take steps to strengthen public schools and create a level playing field in which they can thrive.

The State Board of Education will consider final approval of four new charter applications at its next meeting on November 19 – 22, 2013. These applications, if approved, will increase charter enrollment in North Texas, San Antonio, Austin, and El Paso. I urge parents, districts, and education leaders to make your voice heard at the State Board meeting.

The four articles are below and the information for commenting on or participating in the charter approval process is at the end of this Ed Alert.

Moody’s Investor Service – Increased charter enrollment may endanger district credit ratings

Moody’s released a new study that raises concerns about the credit rating of local school districts in urban areas where charter enrollment is growing.

“The dramatic rise in charter school enrollments over the past decade is likely to create negative credit pressure on school districts in economically weak urban areas…Charter schools can pull students and revenues away from districts faster than the districts can reduce their costs. As some of these districts trim costs to balance out declining revenues, cuts in programs and services will further drive students to seek alternative institutions including charter
schools.”

Full article:
Charter schools pose greatest credit challenge to school districts in economically weak urban
areas (10.15.13)

https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-Charter-schools-pose-greatest-credit-challenge-to-schooldistricts–

PR_284505?WT.mc_id=NLTITLE_YYYYMMDD_PR_284505%3c%2fp%3e

Washington Post – Downward spiral for urban districts

*A Washington Post article provides a concise summary of the findings in the Moody’s study:

“And some urban districts face a downward spiral driven by population declines. It begins with people leaving the city or district. Then revenue declines, leading to program and service cuts. The cuts lead parents to seek out alternatives, and charters capture more students. As enrollment shifts to charters, public districts lose more revenue, and that can lead to more cuts.
Rinse, Repeat.”

Full article:

Charter schools are hurting urban public schools, Moody’s says (10.15.13)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/10/15/charter‐schools‐are‐hurtingurban‐

public‐schools‐moodys‐says/

Nashville – Charter expansion creates a tipping point for public schools

The scenario described in the Moody’s study is playing out not only in large urban areas such as Philadelphia, but also in smaller urban districts such as Nashville. A recent article quoted district officials in Nashville who are worried that the district budget may be reaching a tipping point as a result of increased charter enrollment.

“Too many charter schools too fast could force the district ‘off the fiscal cliff’ unless there are proper guardrails’ in place, school officials say.”

“ ‘There is a lot of pressure on us because everyone wants to come here and open a charter school. How many schools the community can afford to go to scale is a real question,’ said Jesse Register, Metro Nashville Public Schools director of schools who said he doesn’t know where the tipping point is.”

Full article:

Could charters break MNPS bank? (3.31.13)

http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city‐news/could‐charters‐break‐mnps‐bank

Make Your Voice Heard: Public Testimony on New Charter Applications

The State Board of Education will meet November 19 – 22, 2013 in Austin to consider four new charter applications that have been approved by the Commissioner of Education. The Board can take no action and let the Commissioner’s approvals stand, or it can veto the applications.

Public testimony will be allowed at the meeting of the Committee on School Initiatives on Wednesday, November 20. The committee will make recommendations to the full State Board.

Committee on School Initiatives meeting

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
8:00 AM
Room 1‐111
Travis Building – 1701 N. Congress (Austin)

People who wish to testify should register online in advance of the meeting. Online registration starts on Friday, November 15 and ends on Monday, November 18 at 5 PM. Registration on the day of the hearing (November 20) will be considered “late” and may not be allowed if time is limited.

To register online:

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=25769804082

Charter applications under consideration
The commissioner of Education approved the following charter applications on September 27, 2013 that
will be considered by the State Board in November:
Carpe Diem Schools – San Antonio
El Paso Leadership Academy
Great Hearts Academies Dallas (North Texas)
Magnolia and Redbud Montessori for All (Austin)
To review new charter applications (listed on the last page):

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4_wide.aspx?id=2147507674

Make Your Voice Heard: Public Testimony on New Charter Applications
The State Board of Education will meet November 19 – 22, 2013 in Austin to consider four new charter applications that have been approved by the Commissioner of Education. The Board
can take no action and let the Commissioner’s approvals stand, or it can veto the applications. Public testimony will be allowed at the meeting of the Committee on School Initiatives on
Wednesday, November 20. The committee will make recommendations to the full State Board.
Committee on School Initiatives meeting
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
8:00 AM
Room 1‐111
Travis Building – 1701 N. Congress (Austin)
People who wish to testify should register online in advance of the meeting. Online registration starts on Friday, November 15 and ends on Monday, November 18 at 5 PM. Registration on the day of the hearing (November 20) will be considered “late” and may not be allowed if time is limited.
To register online:

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=25769804082

Charter applications under consideration
The commissioner of Education approved the following charter applications on September 27, 2013 that
will be considered by the State Board in November:
****Carpe Diem Schools – San Antonio
****El Paso Leadership Academy
****Great Hearts Academies Dallas (North Texas)
****Magnolia and Redbud Montessori for All (Austin)
To review new charter applications (listed on the last page):

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4_wide.aspx?id=2147507674

###

If anyone knows of documented negative actions by the Charters, please send links to bendeancarson@gmail.com

Friends, I was interviewed this morning on MSNBC by Melissa Harris Perry and was incredibly impressed by her. Unlike most TV journalists, she had actually read the book.

She asked smart questions. She really gets it.

This was the best conversation I have yet participated in on national TV, including the panel that followed. No “Gotcha” questions, just a thoughtful effort to assess some important issues.

Here is the link: http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/the-case-against-school-privatization-57195587667

Diane

Some critics of my book “Reign of Error” say that “reformers” are not privatizers. Who, me, they say, in all innocence?

I invite them to read this post by veteran reporter Bobby Tanzilo in Milwaukee. Here is a city with a thriving voucher program, a thriving charter sector, and a shrinking public school system (that contains disproportionate numbers of students with disabilities and English learners who are unwanted by the other two sectors).

All of this competition among the three sectors was to produce dramatic improvement, but it didn’t. Milwaukee has had school choice for 23 years. Today, it is one of the lowest performing urban districts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

But the business leaders of Milwaukee, Tanzilo writes, want more choice. They want more privatization. They want the entire city school district turned into a “Recovery School District,” to emulate those in New Orleans and Memphis.

Tanzilo writes:

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce – which has in the past supported stripping the elected school board of its power and drawing away funding from Milwaukee Public Schools to pay for private and religious school vouchers – sponsored a pair of PowerPoint presentations on education that were shown to its members in August.

These slideshows touted the so-called “recovery districts” in New Orleans and Memphis and suggest to me – and others I’ve spoken to – that rumors that the group is pushing the recovery district idea for Milwaukee are true.

Recovery districts are public school systems that have had their autonomy and local control usurped by state capitols at the urging of corporate school reformers whose goal is to privatize public schools. The districts are then turned over to private, outside entities that are accountable to no one … or at least not us citizens and parents.

In short, they want to eliminate public education in Milwaukee altogether. They should do their homework. Even the Cowen Institute at Tulane–which supports charter schools–acknowledges that 2/3 of the charters in New Orleans are low-performing schools. And the so-called Achievement District in Memphis is too new to have any meaningful results.

The bottom line is that the business and civic leaders in Milwaukee think that the best way to improve the schools is to abolish public education and privatize control of all the schools. They have not a scintilla of evidence for doing so. The charter sector and the voucher sector in Milwaukee do not outperform the struggling public sector.

What is it that appeals to Milwaukee’s leaders? The absence of any democratic role in public education?

 

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