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Charter school bill shows common ground achievable on public school reform [with video]

Letters from Texas
April 12, 2013

By Harold Cook

Dan Patrick’s charter school legislation passed the Texas Senate yesterday, and by the time it passed with a vote of 30-1, it was almost everybody’s charter school bill. The legislation is an excellent example of lawmakers keeping their eyes on the ball and listening to the objectives and concerns of a wide spectrum of stakeholders.

When I wrote about this a month ago, I’d hoped that state legislators would see education reform bills like this one as an opportunity to move the ball forward for public education, instead of defaulting to more hyper-partisan corners and bickering. So far, it seems they’re doing just that.

There will be more public education skirmishes – there always are, and some are not unhealthy skirmishes to have. School voucher legislation seems to already be on life support (and deserves to be – here’s hoping they soon pull the plug and allow vouchers to die peacefully in their sleep). Restoring funding cuts made two years ago to neighborhood schools is a righteous fight worth having, and I hope education advocates win the battle.

Meanwhile, the charter school bill shows that the higher profile knock-down-drag-out fights need not distract legislators from doing the work to see what public education reform issues they can agree on. Here’s hoping there’s more where that came from.

Here’s what I said about it on YNN’s Capital Tonight last night: