Following a series of reports released by Texas State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff on charter school financial accountability, a state lawmaker said he’s looking into legislation for the 2015 session that will address the issue.
According to an analysis released by Ratliff last week:
- Some charter school superintendents are making 12 times as much as those at public school districts.
- Nearly 60 percent of charter schools spend beyond financial benchmarks set by the Texas Education Agency.
- Charters have lower student accountability ratings when compared to public school districts.
State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, who sits on the House Public Education Committee, said the numbers between charters and public schools are so different that’s he’s concerned.
"The fact that charter schools aren’t helping students meet the minimum standards at the same rate as district schools is troubling," Villarreal said. "It underscores the need for policymakers and parents, especially, to be very vigilant on where they send their children."
During the 2013 session, lawmakers gave the TEA commissioner additional powers to close failing charter schools, which so far has resulted in the closure of six schools. But Villarreal said more can be done, which is why he is looking at possible legislation for the 2015 session.
“We want to make sure that the charter schools that exist play out the role that they were intended to and that is they should be innovators, they should be places of excellence that we learn from, and right now it doesn’t appear like that for too many of them,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal said there is a need for charter schools in Texas and he is cognizant of type of student population that charters attempt to recruit and serve. He said as lawmakers drill down on charter schools he will also take that into consideration.