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Choice & Charters        < Previous



Texas Charter Schools: 81% Minority, 60% Low-Income

And a Waiting List of 17,000 Kids


Q. Texas is sure a big state with a diverse student population. Do they have a lot of charter schools and are they happy with them?


They sure seem to be. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the state of Texas can't form charter schools fast enough to serve all the students who want to attend them.


Statistics from the foundation rebut the notion that charter schools are "free" private schools for rich, white students. The foundation reports that 81% of the charter-school students in Texas are members of racial minority groups, and 60% are from families with incomes low enough to qualify them for breakfasts and lunches wholly or partly subsidized by taxpayers in the school food program.


Charter schools are tremendously popular in Texas, too. In the 2007-08 school year, there were nearly 17,000 students on a waiting list to attend a public charter school there. Supply cannot keep up with demand, because the state is about to hit the legislative cap set by the Texas charter-school law limiting the number of open-enrollment charters to 215.


There are four different types of public charters in Texas: the most popular kind, which is "open-enrollment," and three other kinds: district, university, and home-rule. Some are college preparatory schools with a focus on rigorous academics. Others focus on helping students with specific challenges -drug offenders, pregnant students, teenage parents, or students in the foster care system - finish school and get a diploma.


Foundation officials note that the popularity of charter schools has grown steadily since they were first allowed by law in 1995, but constant new regulations are being imposed which limit the development of new charter schools, and put barriers to growth and innovation on the ones already operating.


They are calling on the Texas Legislature to get rid of the cap on new public charter schools so that this popular public service can be expanded.



Homework: See the website of the Texas Public Policy Foundation,


By Susan Darst Williams Choice & Charters 06 2008


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