The IDEA charter chain hopes to double its enrollment in Texas. This is the free-spending chain that planned to lease a private jet for $2 million a year but backed off after bad publicity; that flies its executives and their families in first-class; that bought premium box seats for professional basketball games; that pays its executives exorbitant salaries; that has received more than $200 million in federal funding from Betsy DeVos.

If the expansion plan goes forward, the IDEA enrollment will grow from 50,000 to nearly 100,000; its annual budget will grow from half a billion to one billion. This is larger than the budget of the University of Texas at Austin. Just in the past five years, IDEA’s budget has tripled.

One state representative called for an audit, but was careful to praise the organization that is gobbling up public dollars and sucking the life out of community public schools.


For Immediate Release
August 18, 2020
Contact: Curtis Smith
(512) 463-0426 office

AUSTIN, TX – In a letter addressed to Commissioner Mike Morath of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Texas First Assistant State Auditor Lisa Collier, State Representative Terry Canales calls for a comprehensive and multi-agency audit of the IDEA Public Schools (IDEA) after recent disclosures of lavish expenditures for its executives. These disclosures included leasing of a private jet solely for the use of top IDEA officials and their families, chauffeured limousines, advertisements during the Super Bowl and World Series, travel expenses of over $14 million, and many more similar expenditures.

IDEA receives approximately half a billion dollars a year from the State of Texas to educate students. It has plans to almost double its enrollment to 97,000 students and add 27 new campuses by the end of 2021. If approved, state funding could double to approximately $1 billion annually. Additional state oversight is needed to ensure that state dollars are spent for their intended purpose and to prevent questionable use of state funds in the future.

“As public servants, the State has an obligation to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used for their intended purposes, and the recent disclosures of the expenditures at IDEA are alarming—to say the least,” said Rep. Canales. “Texas must ensure that our tax dollars are not being used for purchases like private jets and Super Bowl advertisements. I believe IDEA’s recent actions have raised clear and pressing concerns surrounding IDEA’s financial decisions. Other contracts, state agencies, and even universities that receive far fewer state dollars than IDEA receive more state oversight. So, given IDEA’s questionable expenditures, a financial audit of IDEA only makes sense,” continued Canales. “Let me be clear, I do not believe any of our neighborhood schools are at issue here. I salute the hardworking teachers and students of IDEA, and I wholeheartedly support the work that they are doing. I believe this issue is solely at the executive level of the school district.” said Rep. Canales.

A state audit conducted jointly by the Office of the State Auditor and TEA may ensure that public funds are used efficiently for their intended purpose and may improve public trust. An audit also may reveal the need for possible legislative changes to increase oversight and reduce risk to the State of Texas. For more information, contact the Office of State Representative Terry Canales.

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and a member of the Sunset Advisory Commission. Rep. Canales represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County, which includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr and Weslaco. He may be reached at his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capitol at (512) 463-0426.

Is Commissioner Mike Morath in IDEA’s pocket? Stay tuned.