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Senate Passes Charter School Bill With Bipartisan Effort

Flickr user Phil Ostroff

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, got another win for open-enrollment charters schools and vouchers on Thursday as the bill, which would raise the number of charter schools to 215 by 2014, got little to no opposition, and even got some help from across the aisle.

The bill also calls for that number to be raised to 331 by 2019.

"This was truly a bi-partisan effort in terms of putting this bill together. I think as a result of that it is a much better bill and as it goes through the process we can probably continue to perfect it," said Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas.

West said another compromise allows the state to add as many dropout recovery charter schools as needed, schools that won't fall under the state’s cap. 

Patrick said another provision of the bill allows the state to close failing schools and re-open them as charter schools.

"This bill will allow us to begin that process of closing the bad charters and our accountability system is going let all the new applicants know we are not going to accept anything but the best," Patrick said.

That section of privately run charter schools that Patrick mentioned can now also include schools run by out-of-state companies, which brings up the reason for the one vote that was casted against the bill.

Sen. Bob Nichols, R-Jacksonville, reasoned that rural failing schools would be driven to closing and then re-opening as a charter school because of outside bids and incentives.