Below is a summary of Senate Bill 2 that is to be discussed at the Senate Education Committee hearing, today. While charter schools may very well serve a useful purpose in the state of Texas, Senate Bill 2 raises some fundamental issues that need to be examined carefully. First, it provides that the commissioner of education would create a list of underutilized and unused school district facilities in the state. These facilities would then become available for lease or purchase by charter schools for $1.00. In almost every case, the facilities in question were approved and paid for by voter approved bonds. The state may have contributed some funding in some cases, but the majority of the costs were paid by local taxpayers. As the bill currently reads, the local taxpayers of the district would be left out of the decision process entirely. Even though they provided most, or all, of the funding for facilities, they would have no voice in how these facilities were used. I believe that this is another example of the lack of respect for local control of school districts. The best decision for the use of school facilities is made at the local level, not the state level.
Further, as the summary indicates, “SB 2 would also reduce the number of laws that apply to home-rule school districts, including educator certification, admissions, attendance, transfer provisions, and class size requirements.” If this reduction of laws is considered a good thing for charter schools, then why is this also not a good thing for public schools? To me, in essence, this is saying that more local control for charter schools is viewed as positive; however, in the case of public schools, more local control is negative.
Local taxpayers, parents, and local school board members know much better the needs and desires of their district than anyone else. They should have the opportunity to meet these needs through local control of their district. More local control is needed in all public schools, not less.
(Patrick) would require the commissioner of education to create a list of underutilized and unused school district facilities that may be purchased or leased by charter schools, at their option, for $1.The bill would establish the Charter School Authorizing Authority (CSAA) which would grant open-enrollment charters and university charters and monitor and revoke charters. The authority would be composed of seven
politically-appointed members who would serve staggered four-year terms. SB 2
would also reduce the number of laws that apply to home-rule school districts,
including educator certification, admissions, attendance, transfer provisions,
and class size requirements. SB 2 would also make it easier for a district to be
converted into a home-rule district. The bill removes the cap on charters that
may be granted in Texas. Open-enrollment charters would be entitled to an
instructional facilities allotment based on average daily attendance for the
preceding year and the statewide average amount paid per student in facilities