Ask the Board president to pull item (K46) from the agenda. [En español]
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The proposed charter policy has serious flaws. It is like a billionaire posting a two-page will. This policy is ready-made for lawsuit. Even the charter policy advocates must say no to this proposed policy.
- The proposal lacks many safeguards that are included in TEA’s charter application that are intended to ensure there is no misuse of public funds. It lacks specificity on disclosure of related parties transactions, financial obligations, charter application denials, ethics, parent rights, constraints, conflict of interest, qualification of charter applicant, how PUA will be allocated and so much more. TEA has developed an extensive form that a charter management organization must complete when it applies to operate in Texas. All of that is missing from this proposal.
- There has been no public review of such a major change to the entire education landscape in Houston. It requires careful consideration and extensive public input.
- There is no guarantee that the extra dollars will be spent on students.
- The proposal requires only basic information from a charter school but does not provide an in-depth review of whether the charter is likely to deliver on the promises it makes. It takes support from people familiar with many sources of information to help even elected officials fully evaluate charter applications at the state level. Reviewing an application at the state level can take 40 – 100 hours even for an experienced researcher.
- Even if a charter school submits an application that is deficient, it has the opportunity to correct any problems and be reconsidered. There is no requirement to disclose the fee a charter will charge to manage and operate the campus.
- The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) did not recommend this.
Houston already has the ability to enter into SB 1882 partnerships. The superintendent makes a recommendation and the board votes in a public meeting. That’s democracy.
Under this proposal, trustees would not have a vote on a single charter application and the superintendent’s role would also be limited. This decision would no longer need to happen in a public meeting. It could happen in the dark.
Under this proposal, 60% of parents enrolled at a school vote to charter. If a committee, not Admin and not the superintendent, decides the application meets this proposal's requirements, the superintendent SHALL (means must) enter into a partnership contract for no less than five years and no more than ten years. The board's only voting authority would be down the road to renew. The first audit of school finances would be required after a year of operation and not due to the board for another 150 days. That is a year and a half from the start of charter operations. That is a long time to wait to find out if the charter is using the people’s money improperly. The board's only voting authority would be down the road to renew.
The proposal moves HISD's focus from student performance to the selection of charter schools. Is that really what we want to prioritize as we are recovering from COVID struggles? It pits parents against parents at any campus that pursues this option, creating dissension rather than cooperation. This proposal will open Houston ISD up to the influence and pressure from external organizations that will find campaigns for campuses to choose a charter.
There is no requirement in this proposal for public engagement and even the requirement for a public meeting is optional. This does not provide the community to ask questions about the proposal. Many of the important issues related to charter applications at the state level are the result of public meetings in which elected State Board of Education members can ask the public about an application, and the Board provides the public with an opportunity to testify.
The proposal allows parents whose children are enrolled in one year to make a decision for the campus that can be a 10-year commitment, even for campuses with very high student attrition rates. The parents who are present at any given time will not be the same parents in one – three years at many campuses. Charter schools in Texas can exclude any student with discipline, even one single visit to the principal's office. There is no guarantee a charter will accept all students. Charter schools in Texas can exclude any student with a discipline history. How is this good for parents?
This proposal creates a huge financial incentive to charter with the chartering organization getting $1800 more per student and possibly more PUA money than the other schools in HISD. As charters siphon money from the district, the chartered schools get richer and the unchartered schools get poorer. It forces unchartered schools to eventually charter just to stay afloat. And the result is an even more stratified and inequitable system than now.
This is a way to hasten the dismantling of public education. This policy not only silences the board and eliminates their vote, it silences every Houston voter.
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