A note from a reader in Texas, where Rocketship charter schools have big expansion plans:

Rocketship has re-applied for charters in Texas, 8 each in San Antonio and Dallas. Last cycle, in spite of support from San Antonio group, Choose to Succeed (along with the promise of million(s) in start-up funds), Rocketship failed to meet TEA external reviewers standards and was not eligible for consideration by the commissioner. It appears in order to promote the anointed California charter chain this year, Choose to Succeed offered the SBOE a donation for them to visit out of state charters which had applied to TEA. http://www.texastribune.org/2014/04/08/sboe-may-get-private-funds-see-out-state-charters/

However, questions were raised whether private funds should be raised for fact finding missions by a watchdog group as well as SBOE members and local superintendents expressed alarm at the proposal.

The SBOE may consider a policy on accepting donations at their mid-July meeting. Interviews of charter applicants will take place 7/21-23 in Austin.

Rocketship has had some bumpy times since the resignation of its co-founder, John Danner. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/01/21/19el-rotation.h33.html

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And a scathing report on its Milwaukee expansion. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2014/04/new_paper_slams_privately-run_charters_rocketship_education_model.html

Even Nashville, where its school has not yet opened reported its academic shortcomings and a change in its development model in an investigative series reviewed by Diane Ravitch. https://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/15/rocketship-charters-have-a-bumpy-ride-in-nashville-follow-the-money/

Just this month, former USA Today reporter and editorial writer, Richard Whitmire, released his book, “On the Rocketship: How Top Charter Schools are Pushing the Envelope,” which was subject of a webinar 6/26 at the Fordham Institute which is quite favorable to the charter chain. http://edexcellence.net/events/on-the-rocketship-expanding-the-high-quality-charter-school-movement

The 860 page (!) Rocketship pending application can be viewed at: http://castro.tea.state.tx.us/charter_apps/content/downloads/Nocdn/19-20.pdf