Charters Should Not Have Special Privileges

SB 28 is one of the top priorities for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. The House Public Education Committee will be hearing SB 28 on Tuesday morning.

Will you do these 1-2 EASY things?

  • Will you submit written public comment to oppose SB 28?  It takes about 1 minute and you can do it right now or anytime before Tue! Here is the link: https://comments.house.texas.gov/home?c=c400
  • On Monday during the day, will you call the House Public Education Committee members’ staffer to oppose SB 28? Click here for phone #s. You can call them all or focus on the Houston delegation members (Allen, Dutton and Huberty) or Bernal, Allison, King and VanDeaver.

Here is a script you can use.

Hello, my name is _____________, and I am from ____________, Texas. I am calling to ask you to oppose SB 28. The bill gives charters special privileges that school districts don’t have and it limits the ability of our elected officials to approve new charters.  I am concerned that unelected charter boards get to make decisions in my community even when they don’t live here. Thank you. (Add personal story if you have one or info from the fact sheet below.)

                                                                   

Exempts charter schools from zoning in smaller Texas cities. 

  • SB 28 continues the inequity that exempts charter schools from all zoning in cities with 20,000 and fewer people - which is 90% of all incorporated areas in Texas [Educ. Code Sec. 12.103(c)].  
  • This means a charter school can locate anywhere in a small city – even placing a multi-story building in a residential neighborhood – despite local zoning ordinances and without local approval.

Limits the authority of our elected State Board of Education to veto a bad charter application.

  • SBOE is the only publicly elected and accountable body involved in the entire charter approval process. 
  • SB 28 requires a supermajority for a veto which could exclude and disenfranchise communities that are most affected by new charter schools. A simple majority is required for almost every other SBOE vote. 
  • SB 28 limits SBOE to only nine “considerations” for a charter veto. However, compliance with state law, TEA rules, and application requirements didn’t make the Senate list of veto considerations; nor did evidence that the charter curriculum and instructional materials are racially insensitive. 
  • SBOE has only vetoed 7 applications in 8 years – each for good cause.  In fact, 4 of the 7 were eventually revised and approved or have reapplied this year.

Grants special privilege to charter schools. 

  • Gives charter schools special privilege to locate a school facility on any property in a city or county regardless of local regulations; this privilege does not apply to school districts.
  • Grants the Commissioner “exclusive jurisdiction over the establishment and location” of charters.

Prohibits school districts from informing the public about the impact of a proposed new charter campus.

  • Does not allow a school district to “take action” on a charter locating in the district – which could even prohibit districts providing information requested by TEA about the charter’s impact on the district.

Ignores inequities for parents and the public in the charter approval process. 

  • Charter schools don’t give notice to the general public or conduct public meetings for new charter campuses approved through amendments, often leaving parents and the public in the dark.  
  • Unelected, self-selected charter governing boards decide where to locate new campuses but often have no stake in the communities selected. Board members often live in other cities or out-of-state.
  • Local voters must approve funding for new school district facilities, but not so for charter schools.
  • Parents in geographically large charter chains must travel up to 800 miles to address a charter Board with their concerns. A charter Board has no obligation to respond to parents or the public because it is appointed, not elected, and therefore, not accountable to them.
  • The Commissioner has sole approval authority over an unlimited number of new charter campuses through the amendment process – and has approved 637 new campuses in the last 8 years without
    conducting any public meeting and without any vote by a publicly elected body.

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