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Op-Ed: Closing problem schools in public interest

San Antonio Express-News
December 21, 2014

The charter school business has been booming since 1995 when the Texas Legislature authorized their creation.

Over the years, many outstanding operations have emerged, and many charter permits have landed in the hands of individuals who had no business in the field of education. Revoking a charter once it has been issued has never been easy; it takes years of documented failure to do so. Regrettably, while that record of bad performance is being developed, the schools continue to operate, and we may never fully assess the impact that carries.

Legislation approved in 2013 has made it a bit easier for the Texas Education Agency to revoke charters. Charter schools that fail state academic or financial performance requirements three years in a row automatically lose their charter.

Earlier this month, Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams revoked the charters of 14 charter operators under this new law, Express-News education writer Alia Malik reported. Five of those operations are in San Antonio.

No one likes to see businesses fold, but when it comes to education, it is not just about a business venture going south. The stakes are high. We are talking about the workforce of the future and the state’s economic growth.

Charter schools are public schools that receive state funding based on daily attendance and are run by private groups. In 2013, there were more than 154,000 Texas students attending more than 550 open enrollment charter schools, according to the Texas Charter Schools Association. While the state limits the number of charters it will grant, one operator can run several schools under one charter.

It is easy to comprehend the appeal of a charter school to parents who have children zoned to attend low-performing or crowded neighborhood schools. We all want what is best for our children.

Shuttering those that do not meet standards is important public policy.