TX Senate bill aims to bring more charter schools

Charter Schools

TYLER (KYTX) - More charter schools could start popping up in Texas soon.

The state senate recently passed a bill that would lift the cap on open-enrollment charter schools. Current law caps the number of these schools at 215.

There are three different types of charter schools. The ones that have a limited number allowed in the state are "open-enrollment" charter schools. SB2 calls for the cap to be lifted on those.

But there are also "in-district" and "university charters." Those don't have caps.

The UT Tyler Innovation Academy is a university charter. Parents who send their kids there say they're in favor of any law that would bring more charters to Texas.

"It sounded like a good transition, a good place for her."

Tracy Dews's 10-year-old daughter, Kayla, made the switch from public school to charter school.

"She really enjoyed the classroom setting here once we came."

Tracy says she's watched her daughter drastically improve by attending UT Tyler's Innovation Academy.

"She's gained a lot of leadership skills, a lot of group activity skills. And, she wasn't necessarily a shy child, but this has really helped her gain her self-confidence and come into her own."

Kayla says the Innovation Academy is a much better fit for her.

"The reason why I like this school is because I get to enjoy my friends more and learn new things."

Superintendent Eli Crow says that's how charter schools should be.

"Something that's bigger than just a worksheet from today, that has a project associated with it, that's tied to technology. They're doing research, they're working in groups."

Tracy says more parents should have that option for their kids.

"Not all kids learn the same way."

She's on board with more competition in Texas schools.

"I think parents need to have options as opposed to just public schools. It just depends on where you live and what community you live in."

"What does concern me about charter schools," says Crow, "is folks that are opening up a school and running it just like the public schools."

Crow says if the cap on open-enrollment charters is lifted, the schools should still be operated in a way that's productive for children.

"The challenge I give when people come out is, find me a student that's not engaged in what's going on. That's a powerful message in education."

And, he says that's the goal all charters should try to meet- no matter how many are allowed in Texas.

Charter schools are still considered public schools. Kids take the STAAR test and the schools are funded by the state.

The state looks at what it costs across Texas to educate a student and they take the average. Charter schools receive the amount it takes to educate an average student.

The challenge is charter schools can't hold bond elections or collect money from taxpayers. So, they often struggle with facilities. SB2 also aims to change that.

SB2 also calls for a seven-member board of people to oversee Texas charters. And, a way to more easily close under-performing charters.


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