Selected readings on US charter schools
Before TCSA was formed in October 2008, there was no unifying organization for open-enrollment charters in Texas and they were “just islands in the sun” that didn’t collaborate or work together on many projects, said TCSA Executive Director David Dunn.
After five years TCSA has surpassed the start-up phase and is focusing efforts during the next five years on an incubation program that will help communities interested in starting charters complete the extensive application process, Dunn said.
“We really want to focus on growth in communities where the opportunity exists,” Dunn said. “We spent the first five years helping charters improve with data, business and community outreach.”
Charter schools are relatively new to both the nation and Texas. State legislators first authorized the inaugural 20 charters in 1995 and have gradually increased the number each session, with the current number of charters capped at 305.
Local charter schools include Midland Academy Charter School, Texas Leadership Charter Academy, Richard Milburn Academy and Premier High School, all of which Dunn said do a good job serving Midland’s students.
TCSA’s incubation program aims to provide community groups interested in establishing a charter school the guidance and support necessary to do so. While many charters are operated by large networks that extend beyond Texas, other charters are independent and locally run, Dunn said, noting there is a place for both types in Texas.
About 178,000 Texas students attend charter schools and more than 101,000 others are on waiting lists to attend charter schools, Dunn said. About 90 percent of the state’s charters are members of TCSA and complete an annual Quality Framework evaluation that works to improve their academic and financial performance annually, he said.
Still considered relatively new when looking at education statewide, Dunn said his organization is working hard to ensure that charters do a sufficient job educating the public about their role and successes.
Source: Mywesttexas.com – by Meredith Moriak