Charter Schools

Posted by Kelly Lusk on 3/4/2019

March 4, 2019 - Privately owned charter schools are currently on the rise, seeking approval to operate in Grayson County as well as other rural counties throughout Texas, billing themselves as School Choice options.  Tom Bean ISD is highly opposed to the approval of these requests as we think these charter campuses would negatively affect the education and future of students in Grayson County.  If you agree with our opinion, I would ask you to contact our state representative, Reggie Smith, and our state senator, Pat Fallon.  Please consider the following facts about charter schools as they seek to move into our communities

SCHOOL CHOICE:

  • Please know that ALL 13 SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN GRAYSON COUNTY ALREADY OFFER FAMILIES SCHOOL CHOICE, allowing them to transfer their children to other school districts in Grayson County if they so desire, from districts ranging in size from A to 6A, while continuing to provide each child a diverse slate of academic and extracurricular programs, impacting the success of thousands of students every year.
  • For a multitude of reasons, 89 students and/or their parents who reside in the Tom Bean ISD have chosen to enroll in various districts in the area. Likewise, 98 students and/or their parents who reside in various districts in the area have chosen to enroll in the Tom Bean district.  There are also several private school options in the area as well as Home-school.  School Choice already exists. 

PUBLIC SCHOOLS VS. CHARTER SCHOOLS:

  • Public schools are REQUIRED by the State of Texas to provide a space, a teacher and the necessary supplies TO EDUCATE ALL CHILDREN, regardless of disabilities, economic disadvantages, race, creed, religion or other circumstances.
  • Charter Schools are NOT REQUIRED to educate EVERY CHILD, regardless of disabilities, economic disadvantages, race, creed, religion or other circumstances.
  • Privately-operated charter schools in Texas are already creating numerous problems in the communities where they currently operate, separating and segregating children from their community school and creating a divisive Us versus Them mentality.

FINANCIAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS and CHARTERS:

  • TAXPAYER DOLLARS that go to PUBLIC SCHOOLS are governed by TAXPAYER-ELECTED BOARDS that must adhere to strictly mandated accountability.
    • For example, 0.3% of public school districts in the state received an “F” on the Financial Integrity Rating System (FIRST) used by the state to grade schools use of financial resources while 4.8% of charter schools received an “F” rating on FIRST. Tom Bean received an “A” rating on this same report, along with 82.7% of the public ISD’s in the state, while only 71.5% of charters received an “A.”
  • TAXPAYER DOLLARS that go to CHARTER SCHOOLS are governed by PRIVATELY APPOINTED BOARDS with limited accountability whose members are NOT elected by or accountable to the taxpayers who provide their funding.
    • Without oversight/accountability from taxpayer-elected school boards, taxpayer money seldom benefits students. Many of these charters pay their CEO’s salaries that are totally out of line with the number of students which they serve.  Consider the following comparison of student population and salary examples for Superintendents of Public Schools in Texas --- to student population and salaries of Superintendents of Charter Schools in Texas:

Dallas ISD: 156,832 students; Annual Salary: $335,000 ($2.13 per student)                                                                                              

Houston ISD: 214,175 students; Annual Salary: $345,000 ($1.61 per student)                                                                                         

Grayson County ISD's: 23,277 students, Avg. Annual Salary: $130,436 ($121 per student)                                                                           

South Plains Academy Charter: 200 students;  Annual Salary: $300,000 ($1,500 per student)                                                           

Accelerated Intermediate Academy: 269 students; Annual Salary: $268,209 ($997 per student)

**Not all charter CEO salaries are this outlandish but this is used to illustrate that there is very limited financial accountability in the charter industry.  To view and compare more salaries and student populations, please visit this link:  https://rptsvr1.tea.texas.gov/cgi/sas/broker** 

  • As a general rule, CEO’s in the charter industry are paid more than their public school counterparts, while teachers in the charter industry are paid less than their public school counterparts.
  • As a general rule, administrative costs in the charter industry are higher per student than in the public schools. More money towards administration means less money for instruction.
  • The State allows Charter Schools to issue bonds and build facilities in school districts WITHOUT TAXPAYER APPROVAL, which suggests taxation without representation.
  • Taxpayer money that traditionally has gone to Texas Public Schools to provide EVERY CHILD with the best education available is now shared with Charter Schools, resulting in the questionable use of taxpayer dollars as well as shrinking student services & programs that prepare ALL children for success at college and the workplace.

OTHER FINANCIAL FACTS TO CONSIDER:  

  • Charter schools receive $2.8 billion in taxpayer funding per year, taking valuable tax money from public schools that serve ALL children.
  • Charter schools currently have non-voter approved debt totaling over $3.2 billion.
  • Charter schools have increased the cost to local taxpayers by an estimated $2.5 billion per year because of duplication of services.

ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

  • Charter Schools do NOT “outperform” community-based school districts.
  • Charter Schools, on average, provide less programs and fewer services for students.
  • Research shows that charter schools have NO IMPACT on test scores and a NEGATIVE IMPACT on employment earnings of charter school graduates.
  • Charter schools DECREASE test score results, 4-year college enrollment and earnings.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT PUBLIC EDUCATION?

  • Charters do not raise the educational opportunities for all students – it solely transfers some of the responsibilities from publically elected board members who must live in the ISD, to privately appointed boards which are not required to, and generally do not, live in the community in which the school is located.
  • The fact is the Charter movement is a movement to privatize education, which will result in a loss of your voice in the education of your child. The local school board elected by your community to represent your concerns will be a thing of the past
    • 6 charter corporations control 50% of the charter students in the state of Texas, (147,000 students).
    • Public Education is about “Learning,” Corporate charter schools are about “-earning."
  • School districts lose state funding for each student who enrolls in a charter school, but due to the small number from each grade level or campus, expenses related to facilities, equipment, instructional supplies, teachers, nurses, counselors and support staff cannot be reduced.When charter schools FAIL TO MEET THE NEEDS of a student or the student becomes a DISCIPLINE PROBLEM, the traditional public school district in which the student resides MUST enroll the student when charter schools expel them.
  • When a charter school becomes the school of ‘choice’, they are never held acceptable as the default school of record.
  • Studies across the state have determined that only 40 percent of students who enroll in charter schools actually finish there, which means the majority transfer back into public schools to get what they need to successfully complete their K-12 education.
  • Charter schools are NOT REQUIRED TO SERVE SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS if they do not have the resources to do so. Public schools must serve ALL students, including special needs students, or contract for the appropriate services.
  • Open Enrollment Charter Schools MAY NOT BE OPEN TO ALL STUDENTS.
  • For a multitude of reasons, 89 students and/or their parents who reside in the Tom Bean ISD have chosen to enroll in various districts in the area. Likewise, 98 students and/or their parents who reside in various districts in the area have chosen to enroll in the Tom Bean district.  There are also several private school options in the area as well as Home-school.  School Choice already exists. 
  • The slogan, we need to “expand charter schools to serve students in failing schools” is a slick, corporate marketing campaign. The fact is 73.3% of charter students reside in a public school district that is rated “A” or “B” in the school accountability system.  Only 4.4% of charter students reside in a public school district with a rating of “D” or “F.”  Public school districts are not failing but are instead being portrayed as failing to increase the dollars that flow to privately owned corporations.
  • Nationally, in 2017-2018, charter schools exceeded 3.2 million students in 44 states on 7,000 campuses, with Texas ranked as the fastest growing state that allows taxpayer money to flow into charter schools without accountability and taxpayer elected representation.
  • Since private charters were first allowed in the state of Texas, 47% (154 of 329) have been revoked, returned, rescinded, consolidated or failed. This success rate is abysmal. 

INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO TEXAS COLLEGE PREPARATORY ACADEMIES (TCPA),

  • Texas College Preparatory Academies (TCPA), which has applied for a campus in the Sherman area, is currently performing well below statewide averages in academic performance. In fact, 2 of the 7 “Classical Academies” in North Texas received a 2018 Accountability Rating of Improvement Required.
  • Further data from TEA’s 2017-18 TAPR School District Profile regarding TCPA indicates some very alarming information:
    • The 4-year longitudinal graduation rate for the class of 2016 was a dismal 62.6% which is well below the statewide average of 89.1%
    • The 4-year longitudinal graduation rate for the class of 2017 was still 8% below the state average, while Tom Bean ISD had a graduation rate 1.5% higher than the state average.
    • The 5-year rate for TCPA was 37% below the state average while Tom Bean’s was 6% above.
    • Tom Bean ISD has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, teacher pay scale in Grayson County, yet our teacher turnover rate was 10% lower than TCPA’s 31% turnover rate.
    • The TCPA average years of teacher experience is only 3.8 compared to the statewide average of 10.9
  • Although Tom Bean ISD has a slightly higher percentage of Economically Disadvantaged students than TCPA, 46% to 43%, Tom Bean has a higher percentage of students scoring above the state average on STAAR (Approaches) in multiple areas (2018):

                                                      TCPA                  Tom Bean

All students, all subjects          -2%                       Even

All students, Reading              +6%                        -2%

All students, Mathematics       -7%                         +1%

All students, Writing                +1%                        +1%

All students, Science                -8%                         +4%

All students, Social Studies        -12%            +5%                        

  • The fact that our scores are comparable to, if not higher than, TCPA, yet their district has a higher rating than Tom Bean, sheds light on some of the problems with the “A-F” Accountability Rating System rolled out be TEA last year. (See my previous blog dated August 21, 2018).
  • Our concerns are that the students within our district that TCPA fails academically or are expelled for disciplinary actions may return to our district and we will accept them. Upon enrollment, our teachers would face the huge burden of remediating instructional gaps possessed by these students.
  • In summary, the results of the TCPA are no better and, in fact, are worse than Tom Bean ISD and I would suspect are worse than every school in Grayson County. Please refer to the TEA webpage, TAPR report, District # 221801 for more information.
  • We don’t deny that our district faces challenges but bringing in a charter school to our county will only stretch limited resources even thinner.

INFORMATION EXTRACTED FROM: Overview of State Approved, Privately–Operated Charter Schools in Texas and the Direct Impact on Community-Based School Districts - February 28, 2019