"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, January 25, 2010

Texans Can, Inc.: Another Charter Chain "Innovation" Story

Photo from Texans Can website: The Dallas chapter of the Texas Association of Business (TAB) honored Richard Marquez, CEO of Texans Can!, as the 2009 Distinguished Business Leader in Education at a November 12 luncheon at the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas (11/19/09).

Here is the summary of Texans Can, Inc.'s amazing success, from the Houston Chronicle (January 25, 2010)

• Number of campuses: 10

• Number of “unacceptable” schools: 9

• Total enrollment: 4,380

• Revenue from state funding: $32 million

• Revenue from car donations: $8 million

• Advertising budget: $2.5 million

• Combined salary of top six executives in 2008: $880,000

Source: Texas Education Agency, Texans Can Academy

Texans Can's partners in corruption: Collabrian, Wal-Mart, Park Cities Bank, Trinity Floor Covering, and Kimberly-Clark. Another item that deserves to go in the bullets above: Texan Can, Inc. teachers make on average $10,000 per year less than public school teachers in Texas.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Former Dallas Cowboys and local celebrities take to the airwaves each year imploring Texans to donate their used vehicles to Texans Can, a charter school system that caters to dropouts, recovering drug users and teenage parents.

“Write off the car, not the kid,” urges the campaign, which generates about $8 million in annual revenuefor its 10 campuses in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth.

While tugging at donors' heartstrings with success stories, the 4,400-student system is strapped with its own problems: declining enrollment, dismal academic results and a history of top-heavy spending.

Three of its schools — including the Houston Main Street campus — are on the verge of being closed for repeatedly failing to meet minimal federal standards, and the former celebrity spokesman for the Dallas campuses has turned his back on the nonprofit, advising would-be donors to find other charities to support.

“The mission is good. The purpose is good. They just lost their way,” said Dale Hansen, a longtime sportscaster in Dallas who raised millions as the face of Dallas Can over 15 years.

Its top six executives earned a combined $880,000 in 2008, with founder Grant East topping the list with a salary of $236,000 as president emeritus, according to tax documents for that fiscal year. Grant has since retired, and is now drawing $50,000 a year, officials said. Current president Richard Marquez earns more than $190,000 a year. . . .

. . . .Teachers at the Main Street campus earned an average salary of $41,778 in 2009, about $10,000 less than the typical Houston ISD teacher.

Texans Can also spends $2.5 million a year on advertising, primarily to attract vehicle donations. Retired Dallas Cowboys who have appeared in TV commercials include defensive lineman Tony Casillas and backup quarterback Babe Laufenberg. . . . .

. . . .

“They've done a great disservice to the general public,” said Robert Sanborn, president of Children at Risk, a Houston advocacy group. “They're basically preying on the good intentions of Houstonians.”

Several other charter schools and traditional public schools that serve at-risk students produce better results — casting doubt on whether Texans Can is a good use of tax dollars, he said.

“People do want to support public education, but unfortunately this has become the wrong way to do it,” Sanborn said. “There's no way to maneuver the statistics around to say they've been a success.”

The schools were the brainchild of East, who served three years in prison for bank robbery in the 1960s. After time in the oil and computer industries, East established a nonprofit in 1976 to educate adult and juvenile prisoners in the Dallas area.

In 1985, he opened the first Can academy. Ten years later, he earned one of the state's first charters to operate it as a public, tax-funded school. The Can system has since enrolled 62,000 students and produced 9,800 graduates.

9 of 10 ‘unacceptable'

Now, nine of the 10 schools in the system are rated “academically unacceptable”by the Texas Education Agency. The Main Street campus failed to meet standards so frequently that law required the school to be restructured with a new principal and several new teachers last year.

Only 18 percent of students there passed the math portion of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in 2009. A TEA adviser clocked about 120 hours on the campus last year, and state officials are also advising district leaders on how to improve. . . .


  1. Anonymous8:21 PM

    I believe that we come to school to learn,but the only reason why students transfer to all the dallas can academy schools, is beacause some of us are wanting to graduate faster, dropped out but want to go back to school and make something out of themselves,or to gain credits.we dont come to dallas can academy because were juvenile students.we come because we choose to not because were bad adults or whatever you want to call us..my name is mayra and i go to dallas can academy on ross st.The reason i go there is because i want to graduate faster,get my credits,and to be able to prove to all the wrong minded people that i can make something out of myself..yea i have a child but i know i can still make it regardless of who says what,or what they think. im not going to school for nobody but myself.i want to be able to finish school also graduate from high school and college but to be an obstetrician..AND CANT NOBODY STOP ME OR ANYBODY THAT WANTS TO ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS..so please just try to help us achieve our dreams!!!

  2. Anonymous2:46 PM

    DCA and all its affiliates are the most corrupt and rotten to the core charities ever founded. The Dallas media are hands off because you do not dare touch the god of this age...education. They are preying on the miseries of the down and out and using them to extract sympathy money from well meaning benefactors. It is interesting that Dale Hanson dropped them and John Mccaa now shills for them. It's all about money not kids. A convicted bank robber is the founder and still wets his beak annually to the tune of 50k for his consulting fees. For decades he drew down to the tune of close to a quarter a million in salary not to mention his benefit package. Why does news 8 investigative team ignore this vial organization and let the thing live a perpetual existence? Do the foreign born Nigerian educated principals have real credentials or fake? Why did Marquez fire the entire staff at the auction site in Arlington. Are green carded muslim used car dealers running their cars through the auction without donating the vehicles. All is known and the small fish will go down with the top dogs. There are fissures throughout but a gigantic quake is coming. It could be the biggest scam in Texas history. The spirit of Billy Sol Estes is alive and well and dwelling in the ivory tower created by a self promoting and puffing con man. Google the video he produced about himself and watch his underlings sing his praises as though he were the second coming. All of the second tier operatives should be on their way to the U.S. attorneys office to be the first to flip and save their own tail.