“My Thoughts on Charter Schools in Texas” - By Donna Garner

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All parents have the right and the responsibility to choose the type of educational environment they wish for their children. In Texas these choices include (in no particular order) public magnet schools, public charter schools, traditional public schools, homeschooling, learning pods, private Christian schools, private schools, and online academies.

All types of public schools must follow the Texas Education Code (TEC).

In Texas the fifteen elected members of the State Board of Education are charged with setting the policies and curriculum standards for all types of Texas public schools.

Texas charter schools are open enrollment (no tuition) and receive state taxpayers’ dollars (based upon average daily attendance) but do not receive any local taxpayers’ dollars.

The Texas Commissioner of Education puts forth a list of approved charter schools (based upon what is written in their charters), and the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education vote on which charter schools should be approved.

Texas voters elect public school board members to their local school boards. Charter schools have volunteer board members.

The STAAR tests are based upon students’ mastering the SBOE-approved curriculum standards (TEKS). Texas charter school students must meet the same STAAR test requirements as traditional public school students do. This means that public and charter school students must be prepared to take the STAAR tests by having mastered the TEKS.

I believe more emphasis must be placed upon all public school students being taught the SBOE-approved curriculum standards (TEKS) in K-12. The TEKS mandate WHAT teachers must teach, but Texas public school teachers are encouraged to use their creativity to determine HOW to teach each of the TEKS.

Therefore, it is very important to make sure that all charter school applications and accountability instruments are closely aligned with the TEKS which (according to the Texas Education Code) form the basis for WHAT is to be taught in our Texas public schools.

Just as with traditional public schools, charter schools must adhere to the requirements set out in the TEC. This means that all public school teachers are mandated to teach the TEKS which are adopted by the 15 elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.

The STAAR tests (based upon the TEKS) are the accountability instrument that serves to hold public schools and public school students accountable for having followed the TEC requirements.

I believe that BEFORE a charter school application is approved by the Commissioner and the SBOE that much more emphasis must be placed on the types of curricula that are to be used to meet the mandates of the curriculum standards (TEKS).

So far as I know, the SBOE members, who are going through the charter school adoption process, are told very little about the curricula that these charters intend to use. Since charter school students must meet the same STAAR requirements as traditional public school students, then all public school students in Texas must be taught curricula that align closely with the TEKS. If their teachers spend time on all sorts of other curricula, then students are deprived of having the class time required to bring them to the proficiency level on the STAAR tests.

For instance, if students spend time on curricula that is NOT aligned with the SBOE-adopted TEKS (such as Critical Race Theory, LGBTQ, environmental extremism, the social justice agenda, community organizing, multiculturalism, globalization, revisionist history, political correctness, sexual freedom, fuzzy math), then students will not have time to learn what is actually required for them to learn in the TEKS. Students then experience defeat when they take the STAAR tests because they have not been prepared sufficiently.

Worse than that, students go out into the world unprepared because they have not mastered the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to help them make informed decisions.