TheÂ “conservative” majority on the StateÂ Board of Education, that justifiably often-excoriated gang of gung-ho history-revisionists, has done something goodÂ that the Legislature has failed to do, and they deserve credit for doing it. On Friday, theyÂ dedicated $100 million from the Permanent Fund to help build more charter schools.
Charter schools are public schools. They just operate outside the school districts. (To understand more about how public they are, readÂ “Competing for Minds” Â from our education Special Edition in 2008.) Some of the most practical innovations in education — and certainly the best results — are coming from charter schools in Dallas like North Hills (ranked as the #14 public high school in America, way ahead of Highland Park) and Peak and Kipp.
But the Legislature — the Republican Legislature, mind you — has seen fit to pay charter schools a fee per student less than what the traditional public school districts are paid. And it will not grant charter schools the right to issue bonds so it can build and furnish new schools. So the best thing happening in our woefully under-educated state is not only not supported, it is hampered from growing to serve more students.
That $100 million is but a drop in the bucket. But it will do a lot of good if it goes to theÂ properly managedÂ charter schools that have a proven track record of successÂ in helpingÂ the worst-served part of the student population — and not to ideological playthings of the State Board. The Attorney General is perfectly capable of setting guidelines to make sure that happens.