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Here is Where We Stand on Charter Schools

All Texas Communities Deserve an Equal Playing Field

Charter schools were founded on the promise of fostering locally developed, innovative approaches to educating children. But policies that favor charter schools over traditional schools have created a parallel and inefficient public school system at a significant cost to the state and its students.
Charter school students in Texas receive a funding advantage of $1,100 more per student compared with students in our state’s major urban and suburban school districts. As a result, it costs the state more to operate a charter school than it does to operate a neighborhood school with the same students in the same community.

One Pager Charter Schools
Charters Receive More Funding

*The average was estimated using the most recent data from the Texas Education Agency for per-student, campus-level funding projected for the 2019-2020 school year.

In addition to the funding advantage, charters, unlike traditional school districts, are not required by law to accept all students. They can exclude students from enrollment for disciplinary reasons and are not required to follow the same rules that traditional school districts must follow for expelling and suspending students.

In Texas, 6.9% of charter students receive special education services compared with 9.1% percent of students in major urban and suburban district schools.1

Rapid Charter Expansion is Inefficient

In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) which revoked charters if they failed to meet academic or financial accountability for three consecutive years. Though this is one of the most effective charter accountability laws in the country, it oversimplified and limited public oversight of the process for expansion of charter schools, only requiring the Texas Commissioner of Education’s approval.

Since the passage of SB 2, charter school enrollment has increased 100% and has caused state funding for charters to increase from $1.2 billion to $3.1 billion per year. The number of charter schools has increased 43% over the same period of time.2

As of 2020, Texas is home to 176 charter networks operating over 790 campuses that serve more than 329,000 students.

This rapid growth of charters, because of limited transparency and oversight over expansion, has led to an unnecessary, inefficient, and costly duplication of facilities, transportation, and public education services.

The Growth of Charter Schools in Texas

Charter school enrollment grew by 100% between 2013 and 2018.
This map shows where the enrollment growth took place.

Growth of charter campuses in Texas map

Policy Recommendations

  • Discontinue the funding advantage to charter schools and require the same enrollment and disciplinary rules as traditional public schools.
  • Empower the State Board of Education or local school boards to oversee charter school expansion to ensure public input and spending efficiency.
  • Pause the expansion of charters until they receive the same funding as traditional schools and serve a population of students that is representative of the community in which they are located.