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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Texas Considers More Corporate Welfare for Charter Schools

The only national peer-reviewed research study of charter schools concluded in 2009 that only 17% of corporate charter schools produce better test scores than matched public schools.  From the press release:
. . .17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference.
The study also disaggregated their findings by state, with some states showing better results than the national picture and some worse.  Texas was among the worse. From the Texas study:
The typical student in a Texas charter school learns significantly less than their virtual counterparts in their feeder pool in both reading and mathematics.
Now Texas is facing big money problems, despite the fact that it has more than its fair share of millionaires and billionaires.  Oh, I forgot, they don't pay taxes.  Here is a partial list of the proposed cuts on Gov. Rick Perry's list (why does Rick Perry remind me of Jim Jones?):

Medicaid: Patients on Medicaid could have a harder time finding doctors who will accept them because of a 10 percent reduction in Medicaid provider rates. That's on top of the 1 percent reduction implemented last year.

Independent living: Almost 12,000 Texans could lose services that help them live independently, including attendant care, home health services, home delivered meals and relocation services.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing: Less money would be available for vocational training and independent-living services.

Children with disabilities: Reductions would "pause" a state autism program and reduce client services in the blind children's program, which provides support for people until they are 22.

At-risk children: Funding for prevention and early intervention services would be almost cut in half.

Public education

School finance: Schools are looking at nearly $5 billion in cuts from current levels, which would leave Texas about $10 billion short of meeting the funding levels required by state law. Budget officials recommend legislation that would alter formulas to cut about 14 percent of state funding to school districts.

Special programs: Officials propose major cuts to programs and grants that pay for pre-kindergarten classes, arts education, teacher-incentive pay and technology.

Higher education
Community colleges: Four community colleges would be shut down statewide, including Ranger College, west of Weatherford, under the House budget. The Senate's version of a first-draft budget would spare the four campuses.

College financial aid: No new applicants would be accepted for Texas Grants and several other financial aid programs now used by tens of thousands of college students statewide.

Natural resources
No Cash for Clunkers: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would severely scale back its efforts to get old, polluting vehicles off the road. One program that is expected to repair or replace 17,000 old vehicles this year alone would be eliminated.

Air and water tests: The environmental agency would halve its resources toward water and air monitoring, including eliminating more than 40 full-time employees working in air quality assessment and planning. An agency spokesman said the cuts wouldn't affect current air monitors in the Barnett Shale.

Oil and gas inspections: The Texas Railroad Commission would get a 12.5 percent cut in funding for monitoring and inspection of oil and gas sites. Critics already charge that the agency doesn't have enough inspectors to keep up with natural gas activities in the Barnett Shale. An agency representative said all other positions would be looked at before inspector reductions are considered.

Indigent defense: Officials propose cutting $8.6 million for programs statewide.
Second Court of Appeals, Fort Worth District: Officials propose cutting the district's budget from $5.8 million to $5.6 million.

Public safety and criminal justice
Community support: More than $9 million would be cut from youth education programs, environmental cleanup and State Military Tuition Assistance.

Parole release processing, supervision and residential facilities: More than $27 million would be cut from halfway houses, intermediate sanction facilities, and parolee assistance and supervision.

Correctional managed health care: More than $200 million would be slashed from providing mental and physical care and prescriptions for inmates.

Community supervision funding: More than $110 million would be slashed from programs, services and supervision for offenders on probation. Cuts would be made to impact treatment initiatives, misdemeanor supervision, treatment alternatives to incarceration programs and more.

General government
Aid to local libraries: Officials propose cutting the Loan Star Libraries grants, which fund service enhancements. One of these grants last year, for nearly $142,210, went to the Seminary South Branch Library and saved a science program, jazz concerts and a reading challenge. Cutting the grants, along with a loss of federal library service funds and other cuts, drops help by 72 percent for libraries statewide.

Arts grants: Funding for art programs would drop more than 50 percent, as a result of the loss of stimulus funds and the abolition of the Commission on Arts endowment fund. Officials also suggest cutting funding for cultural tourism grants, which are given to organizations for events that draw tourists. Funding is proposed to drop from $12.9 million to $5.9 million.

Child Support Services: Funding is proposed to drop from $665.9 million to $553.7 million., by slowing down the process of redesigning the agency's child support business process and providing less counseling to non-custodial parents and more. To offset some costs, officials suggest raising fees and beginning a new $25 annual service fee on all non-TANF cases where $500 or more has been collected in child support payments.

So with all these proposed slashes to public services, it must asked why Perry and his corporate stooges in the Legislature would consider underwriting charter school expansion, yes?  I would suggest you ask the vulture capitalists and hedge funders who are bankrolling the KIPPs and the KIPP knock-offs, despite the fact that these corporate brainwashing camps for the poor have hundreds of millions in the bank.   Insane? You bet--that's why they call it Texas:
. . .The proposal to expand access to the fund has prominent backers, including Senator Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano and chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, who introduced the legislation. Her House counterpart, Representative Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands and chairman of the Public Education Committee, filed a companion bill last week.

Not everyone is on board: traditional school districts do not like the idea. The Texas Association of School Boards opposes opening the bond guarantee program to charters, Dax Gonzalez, a spokesman for the association, said, adding that charter schools are generally deemed to be poor credit risks.

“We’ve had around 280 charters awarded over the last few years,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Out of those, 71 are no longer operating anymore. That’s about a quarter of charters that have been abandoned or closed down. That doesn’t show that they are going to be around for the state to recoup their investment.”

In fact, charter schools, many of them now defunct, currently owe the state $21 million — some since 2001 — mostly because of discrepancies in student enrollment figures.

Traditional districts and charters alike are financed through their estimates of enrollment at the beginning of the year. The state then adjusts the financing — through a process called settle up — for the number of students who actually attend. When a charter closes, the state may be unable to retrieve the money it has advanced the school.. . .

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Jim Horn for sharing this informative post. I do hope that in terms of air quality monitoring, they should do it on a regular basis so that they can monitor it and have a solution regarding air pollution not only in charter schools but also nearby places.