How The Charter School Bill Aims To Tighten Rules For Poor Performing Charters In Texas

The first generation of charter schools in Texas includes the Raul Yzaguirre School for Success in Southeast Houston.

Adriana Tamez is the deputy superintendent of the Houston campuses. She supports the charter school bill in the Texas Legislature — and not just because it would grow the ranks.

“The accountability is really big. For me, the most important part of this bill.”

Besides increasing the cap on charter school contracts, the bill aims to tighten the rules for charters with poor academics.

“Our students, our children, do not have time to waste. And if we are not performing, if we’re not doing good by them, then by golly, step aside and let those who know what they’re doing or on the right path to making sure that our kids are successful, do their work.”

Currently, it can take years for Texas to shut down a poor performing charter school.

One reason is that a charter operator has legal property rights.

David Anthony is the CEO of the advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas. He’s worked on the bill with State Sen. Dan Patrick, a Republican from Houston and key lawmaker on education.

“There has been a perception that once an entity receives a charter from the state board of education that that is a property right and closing the charter has taken anywhere from six to one ongoing case of 12 years to cease operations of a charter that has been granted.”

The Texas Education Agency can’t act quickly to revoke a charter, according to a recent report. To help fix that, the bill would give new charter schools an initial five year term to prove themselves.

Anthony says that time period is critical.

“Most charters, you can predict their success or failure in the future based on their first three or four years of operation. Generally those that perform well in the first three years continue to operate well, and those that don’t, continue to have problems up and down in performance or in operation over the next several years.”

Under the bill, new charters would have to earn good grades from the state for most of those first five years. Otherwise, they won’t get the next 10-year license.

On the flip side, the bill would speed up the renewal process for high performing charters.

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