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Senate Committee Moved To Tears, Renews Discussion On Charter Schools

Flickr user Phil Ostroff

A senate hearing at the capitol dials down the accountability standard for state dropout recovery schools under a bill authored by Sen. Leticia Van DePutte.

If the bill passes, dropout recovery schools would not face the same accountability standard as any other public school in the state.

Justina Gonzalez runs the Por Vida Academy & Charter School in San Antonio, an at-risk school for students that have fallen behind.

"Currently the accountability rating does not allow for students who do not get their diploma in a certain amount of time, they are considered a dropout after that even though schools like ours continue to work with students like that," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said many of their students do go on to graduate, but because it may take longer than the average student, schools like hers have a lower score on the state accountability rating. 

High school student Terrance Wheatfield attends the Austin Can Academy and testified in favor of the bill.

"When I heard about the school I was appalled," Wheatfield said, "I didn’t know you could graduate earlier. I didn’t know you could catch up faster than you could do in a public school. When I heard that the first thing I heard was there’s hope, there’s hope that I don’t get caught up too far back and just give up"

Wheatfield is one of a handful of charter school students testifying at the senate hearing.  His testimony brought many of those on the Senate Committee on Education to tears and renewed a separate discussion on the issue of increasing the number of charter schools allowed in Texas.