Members of the Texas School Board of Education (TXSBOE) are fighting for more transparency in how new charter schools are considered and approved and how existing charters apply for new campuses.
On Thursday, the TXSBOE unanimously passed a policy which requires charter schools to seek board approval in order to expand.
The School Initiatives Committee now can review expansion amendments which is the process by which existing charters add new campuses. Before this, charters expanded without public decision and applications were only reviewed by the TEA and Commissioner of Education Michael Morath.
Georgina Perez, TXSBOE District 1, El Paso, says this is a big step in the right direction.
“If the local community had the opportunity to send their public comment or go to Austin to testify, this rule change provides them the opportunity to voice their concerns whether they support a charter coming in or not,” Perez said. “But as it stands now their tax dollars are being allocated to something they have absolutely no say in.”
Perez said when it comes to our public schools, there are regularly scheduled meetings that anyone in the community can take part in.
“Charter schools don’t have a local board, they don’t have an elected board and there is no place for the community to come in and discuss any of their concerns other than not being elected by the local community,” Perez said. “They’re also not accountable to our local community.”
Board members offered suggestions for improving the charter school application process, including hearings for public input, more detailed notices to school districts and improved assesments on how a new charter school in a neighborhood will affect nearby districts.
Perez said this is about improving transparency and more openess of the process, saying it is about a democracy.
“This policy change is all one step closer to giving the commuity a voice, creating a level playing field and make sure that all our children have the very best that we all know that deserve,” Perez said.
The next step: Texas legislators need to make a final decision on this bill.