Facts and insights about Texas public schools
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Commentary: Whose Choice Is School Choice?

A new commentary in TribTalk, a publication of the Texas Tribune, states that, “Charter schools may not actually be a choice for Texas children with the highest needs and challenges.”

As activists rally at the Capitol during School Choice Week, Texas Representatives Gina Hinojosa, Mary González, and Shawn Thierry point out that charter schools are permitted to exclude students, so the demographic makeup of charter schools is often different than it is in local schools. “In too many instances, charters are choosing the students they want rather than allowing families to choose the charter,” they write.

That can include students with a disciplinary history and special education students. For example, at an Austin charter school, 8.3 percent of students are in special education. At a local middle school in the same area, 19.2 percent of the students are in special education, more than double the number at the charter school.

“When charters cherry-pick students, neighborhood schools are left to educate a disproportionate percentage of more challenging children,” the authors write. The cost to educate children with more challenges is higher, yet charters receive more per-student funding from the state per student than 95 percent of all students in Texas.

“Given the state’s constitutional responsibility to educate all kids, it is clear that the only meaningful “choice” to be made is for the Texas Legislature to “choose” to adequately fund all of our public schools and stop exclusionary policies and practices that disadvantage Texas school children,” the authors conclude.

Read “Whose choice is school choice?” by Gina Hinojosa, Mary González, and Shawn Thierry, TribTalk.

January 24, 2019