Texas Charter Schools: 81% Minority, 60% Low-Income
And a Waiting List of
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
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.
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.
the website of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, www.tppf.org