There are at least 760 charter schools operating in Texas as of the 2016-2017 school year, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Charter schools are privately run, publicly funded education institutions for school-age students grades K-12. State law gives the Texas education commissioner the authority to grant charters contingent to state board approval.
Although these public schools are typically open-enrollment and should come at no cost to families, they are subject to fewer state laws than traditional public schools.
Many schools select students by lottery for limited spots each term and may not be in a centralized location for families.
The appeal of charter schools is their different educational offerings including smaller class sizes; specialized focus on college preparation, the arts, sciences or sports; and potential to improve conditions for students with specific needs or who are economically disadvantaged.
Charter schools can be established by indiviudals, nonprofit or for-profit organizations, and have their own standards for managing staff and student performance.
In an effort to avoid sanctions and or closures by the Texas Education Agency over so-called "failing schools," some public school districts in Texas – including San Antonio ISD – are partnering with charter networks.
These takeovers and consolidation of schools have been controversial. San Antonio Independent School District's contract with New York-based charter operator Democracy Prep to manage Steward Elementary takes effect this week, while SAISD is still involved in a pending lawsuit brought by the district's teachers union.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of choosing a charter school in San Antonio? How are teachers, parents and children navigating their options?
How could the rise of charters affect the education system across Texas?
- Joshua Childs, assistant professor of educational policy and planning in the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Educational Administration
- Sharon Nichols, professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and Human Development and research associate for The Center for Research and Policy in Education at the University of Texas at San Antonio
- Inga Cotton, runs education-focused blog "San Antonio Charter Moms"
- Camille Phillips, education reporter for Texas Public Radio
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