March 25, 2021 Testimony on SB 28

March 25, 2021  

Written Testimony of David Anderson
General Counsel
Raise Your Hand Texas

Before the Texas State Senate Committee on Education
The Honorable Larry Taylor Chair
March 25, 2021

Senate Bill 28 by Senator Paul Bettencourt
Position: Oppose


  • The State Board of Education must maintain oversight of new charter applications.
  • Our communities have a right to expect that their voices can reach elected officials capable of responding to their concerns.

Senate Bill 28 repeals the provision allowing the State Board of Education (SBOE) to
disapprove a State Education Commissioner’s proposal to grant a new charter
application in Texas. The SBOE is currently the only elected body overseeing the
approval of new charter applications and Raise Your Hand Texas believes elected
officials must maintain some oversight on both new charter applications and expansions.
In Texas, our public schools are accountable to the state through an assessment and
rating system and to the public through democratic local elections.

State-authorized charters are only accountable to an elected State Board of Education at
the point of charter authorization. At this time, no elected officials have any oversight
over the largest source of charter school expansion through charter amendments. SB28
moves our public schools further away from our traditional expectations of accountability
to elected officials when it should extend oversight to all charter expansions.

Our communities have a right to expect that their voices can reach elected officials
capable of responding to their concerns. This is certainly the case for school districts,
which are governed by elected trustees who make decisions on the expansion and
location of most public schools, and must hold elections authorizing bonds for their
construction. Yet those local elected officials find themselves unable to influence the
expansion of charter schools approved by an unelected Commissioner of Education.

A constituent might then turn to their legislators to express concern about the effect of
additional schools on the facilities they are taxing themselves to build and maintain. Yet
legislators have no control over charter authorization or expansion, despite a significant
impact on the state budget.

A member of the public can contact their elected State Board of Education about an
application for a new charter and get a hearing before that body. But even the State
Board has no authority over charter expansion. A State Board member may have
approved a charter at the other side of the state years ago, yet have no ability to
influence expansion amendments approved solely by an unelected Commissioner of

Providing some oversight by elected officials is not a pro or anti-charter position. It is the
way a democratic society functions. We ask that the State Board of Education’s authority
to disapprove a new charter be retained, and that the Committee consider enhancing
that authority to require approval for expansions of existing charters.
We look forward to working with the Committee on these important issues.

Download Testimony (PDF)
Categories: Testimony

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