Restoring the Meaning of the Word “Competition”

» Chron: Charter schools prompt fierce political battle (Patricia Kilday Hart)

Kuff tackles some of this already. It’ll be worth watching to see if the charter cap removal risks getting hung up by the property forfeiture that Dan Patrick’s bill demands of public school districts. There are other bills that limit themselves to dealing with the cap on charter schools in a much simpler form. And it’s worth remembering that the charter cap didn’t get past the House committee last session. So we’ll see whether the odds for it change this session. One aspect of the charter cap issue that hasn’t gotten much attention is the fact that the Texas Education Agency is the entity tasked with inspecting poor-performing charters and begin the process for closing them down. One of the impacts of the $5.4B education cuts from 2011 was that around 300 TEA employees were laid off. Guess which department got gutted. Now guess which one isn’t on the table for restoring funds to.

I had the pleasure of attending a Sharpstown Democrats meeting on Saturday with Scott Hochberg as the guest speaker. Among the topics of discussion were charter schools. A point brought up by Scott that’s worth seconding is that, if charter schools believe in “competition”, then why not have an old-fashioned, band-style competition whereby new applicants are required to submit a plan for how they’ll be better than an existing poor-performing charter school, give them a year or so to … ya know … compete. And whichever school ends up doing better (however you want to define that), gets to keep their charter. And the one that loses gets shut down. Sounds like a worthwhile idea to me.

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