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In this CHARTER EDtalk, we were fortunate to be able to sit down with Amanda List from A List Consulting to learn more about the Texas charter school landscape.
Amanda has extensive state government affairs and public charter school experience including strong ties to the Texas Capitol and the Texas Education Agency. She is currently working with the Texas Charter School Association Advocacy Team and the elected member advocacy committee as the association prepares for the next Texas state legislative session in 2019.
Listen as she shares the state of Texas charters with regards to the application process, the three strikes rule, and some amazing success Texas charters are seeing due to the state’s rigorous oversight. The transcript can be found below the video.
RE: Good morning. So Amanda, we’re actually here at the National Charter School Conference as one of the main sponsors and we’re doing a campaign called “We Love Charter Schools”. What is it about charter schools that you love?”
Amanda List (AL): What I love about charter schools is that not every child learns the same. Charters give options for kids. In Texas—and I’m not familiar with other states obviously as I am with Texas.
In Texas, we have different missions and different styles of charters. So, we have the high performing charters which you’ve heard of (IDEA Public Schools and Harmony Schools, etc.). Those are considered our college prep schools. And then you have schools that focus on dropout recovery, credit recovery. Then you have some schools that focus on elementary science, etc.
What I love about it is allowing kids these options that they have because again not everyone learns the same. And it’s personal for me because I went to private school and it was not a model that I learned on. I just didn’t learn. I struggled through school to a point where I graduated high school, I didn’t think I was smart enough to go to college. Going to college and having that direct teach changed my life and I graduated on the Dean’s list.
So it’s very personal for me because I don’t want a child to be struggling in school. Not because they’re not smart which is not the method that they learn, so that’s why. I know that’s a long response, but that’s fine.
RE: Can you give us an overview of the Texas charter school landscape?
AL: Yes. Currently, there are 675 charters in Texas. There are 185 operators and so sometimes these two numbers confuse people. So in Texas, you have an agreement with the state and then with that, you can have multiple campuses. So there are 675 charters serving more than 272,000 students with a wait list of about 140,000. So definitely, there is a demand for more charters here in Texas.
RE: What is this “three strikes and you’re out” mean for charters?
AL: Three strikes and you’re out was back in our legislative session of 2013. We had a huge bill passed, Senate Bill 2. It was a huge reform bill. So Senate Bill 2 put the teeth into closing poor performing charters and in that, also created the three strikes and you’re out rule. So three strikes and you’re out means that if you fail the financial ratings which is School First here in Texas or accountability, either of those three, in three consecutive years, then the Commissioner of Education will close you.
RE: Now, we’ve also heard you have some of the best charters in the nation. Is that because of all the rigor?
AL: Yes. I think so and just us being Texans, so we’re pretty proud of ourselves. There’s that. But we do. We have seriously some of the best charters that U.S. and World News Report just came about a month ago or so and– up in Round Rock, Texas – Meridian World Charter School was ranked sixth in the nation when it comes to the best high schools.
And, over 70 Texas charters either received the Silver or Gold rankings. So we are very proud of the success that we’re having here in Texas.
RE: Well, now that sounds really great Amanda. Thank you very much for coming today. We really appreciate you sitting down with us.
AL: Thank you both for having me.
JJ: Thank you. It’s been great.
Since the company’s inception in 2006, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We help schools access, leverage, and sustain the resources charter schools need to thrive, allowing them to focus on what matters most – educating students. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $1.8 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country. For more information on how we can support your charter school, contact us. We’d love to work with you!Learn More