Private schools also don’t want to be governed by the State’s testing and accountability system, which includes the STAAR Exams. The Statesman article states: “The out-of-state advocates of private school vouchers cautioned against extending the state’s testing and accountability system to the private schools because it has failed to improve public schools.”
It was clearly established that charter schools don’t operate under the same rules as public schools. They pay their teachers significantly less than those in public school, they don’t have to provide transportation, athletics, or guidance counseling, and as one advocate noted at the hearing, they aren’t required to “do pest control.” As David Anthony, CEO of Raise Your Hand Texas noted in his testimony, the State really doesn’t’ know much about charter school operators when they are granted a charter. He advocated providing them with a license for three years which would be essentially a probationary period for the state to judge whether or not a charter should be granted. The video of a 60 Minutes Report on Harmony Schools and an interview with David Dunn, President of the Texas Charter Schools Association, raises serious questions about the lack of background information on charter school operators such as the owner of Harmony Schools.
The policy question really boils down to this: Why should the State of Texas be funding operators of privately run schools when public schools have a better track record, are far more transparent, and produce superior results when they are adequately funded? After public schools have been seriously underfunded for the past 6 fiscal years, it is amazing that advocates of “school choice” want to send enormous sums of our tax dollars to fund private entities that have very limited accountability to the State for their performance.
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