Our children’s future rests in our hands – we must take action now!

April 12, 2013

Rep. Harold Dutton (D- Houston) made a statement this week after hearing the educrat lobby trash one of his education reform bills.  He said:

“There are some children whose names we probably don’t even know, whose faces we never will see.  But they are depending on us nonetheless to do something that changes their future.  And their future in most cases begins with whether they get an education or not.  And if they don’t get an education, they will have no future.  And if they don’t have a future, it’s our fault.”

Rep. Dutton is so right!  We know that one size does not fit all in educating our kids.  We are calling for a broad plan of education reform which empowers parents.

But education reform legislation is at risk.  The Senate is moving, but the House (lead by and with a majority of Republicans) is our challenge.  These bills must get out of the House Public Education Committee now!

We ask that you support legislation to lift the cap on charter schools, to help failing public schools and to give parents opportunity to take over a failing school. 

Recovery School District – HB 1957 by Rep. Harold Dutton

Today, 315,000 students are enrolled in 566 failing Texas schools.   This is simply not acceptable.

Many of these parents do not have the luxury of mobility – they cannot simply move to another school district, nor can they afford to home school or send their kids to private schools.

Current law can allow the school to continue to operate and continue to fail to educate the students.

We support the creation of the Achievement School District (ASD).   This legislation:

  • Creates the “Achievement School District” (ASD), which is a statewide district providing governance and oversight to the state’s low-performing campuses.
  • Management of a campus is taken over by ASD after 2 years of low-performance.
  • Campus returned to district in negotiated agreement upon recommendation by the superintendent of the ASD.
  • ASD earns the same funding that district of residence would receive and reports to the Commissioner of Education.

This has worked other placesIn Louisiana’s Recovery School District, the percentage of students who scored basic or above has increased to 82% (a 16 point increase) and the annual high school dropout rate has decreased substantially, from 11.4% to 4.1% since 2007.  And other states, such as Tennessee and Louisiana, have created a special purpose district to oversee their lowest performing schools to turn those campuses into successful schools.

Interventions in under-performing schools have typically been ineffective because local political pressures prevent comprehensive change and because responsibility is diffused too broadly. The ASD approach addresses both issues by removing the school to the jurisdiction of a state-appointed superintendent with the expertise and authority necessary to enact the bold actions needed to turn around the school.

Parent Trigger Bill, HB 2976 by Rep. Naomi Gonzalez and SB 1263 by Sen. Larry Taylor gives majority of parents at a campus the option to direct the Commissioner to take one of the following after 2 consecutive years of low-performance.  Currently, parent intervention takes up to 6 years.  Parents must not have to wait six years for their children to receive a high-quality education.

This legislation allows for:

    • Repurposing the campus such that it becomes an early college high school, STEM academy, or another special-purpose high school model.
    • Assigning the campus to an alternative management structure, such as a high-performing charter school management organization or a high-performing neighboring district.
    • Closure of the campus.

Parent Trigger laws exist in CA, LA, MS and TX. At least 20 other states have parent trigger legislation filed or pending.

Charter School – SB 2 by Sen. Dan Patrick and Rep. Linda Harper-Brown gives the Commissioner of Education the authority to grant and close charters.  The SBOE may veto the Commissioner’s approval of a charter.

Today, we have over 101,000 students on a wait list to go to a charter school.

Texas currently has a cap of 215 on the number of charter school operators in Texas.  Current operators can open additional campuses.

The Center for Education Reform gives Texas a grade of “C” and ranks the Lone Star State 29th in terms of effectiveness.

We support eliminating the cap and providing public school facilities, which are not in use, be available to charter schools.  (Charter schools have not facilities funding from the state and do not have a property tax base as other public schools do.)

Charter schools provide a form of public school choice to parents and are an alternative to government assigning kids to schools based on their zip code.

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