This Week's Roundup of School Choice News
Here's a roundup of school choice news playing out in states around the country.
• Let's start in Texas,where in in the state's House of Representatives, the education committee began debating a proposal to increase the number of charter schools allowed to operate in the state. Senate Bill 2, which passed out of the Senate's education committee earlier this month, would allow the charter school cap to expand to 330 charter schools by 2020, up from the current 215 cap. In its current form, the bill would also allow the state's commissioner of education to approve new charters (with the state board of education's approval) and give charter schools priority to rent or buy underused district facilities.
And on a very different note, students in Texas, charter schools may soon be required to pledge allegiance to the American and state flags and observe a moment of silence each day—something their regular public school peers already do. The bill passed the House unanimously.
• In Connecticut, the House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow school districts with charter schools to count the charter schools' scores on state tests as part of their district's average academic achievement, thereby potentially increasing the district's DPI, or district performance index, assuming the charter schools' test scores are relatively strong.
A pilot program has allowed Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven to already enact the measure, but the bill would expand that ability to all school districts in the state that have charter schools.
• Lawmakers in Indiana are hammering out the details of a bill that would expand the use of private school vouchers in the state. Members of the House of Representatives approved an earlier version of the bill that would allow for a much larger growth in vouchers than the version of the bill passed by the Senate. Now, House and Senate education leaders are working to reach a compromise between the two versions.
The House bill would expand vouchers to siblings of those students already receiving vouchers, in addition to students in special education and students attending schools in a D- or F-rated school district, if students meet income requirements. It would also remove the requirement that students receiving vouchers enroll in public school for at least two semesters before becoming eligible for vouchers, reports the IndyStar. The measures would build upon a 2011 law approved by Indiana's Republican-controlled legislature that created one of the most ambitious voucher programs in the country, giving some middle-income families access to private-school aid.
Lawmakers could compromise by allowing students in districts with an F rating to forgo the requirement, while keeping it in place for students in higher-rated districts, reports the Associated Press.
• And lastly, the Tennessee Charter School Incubator launched a replication and expansion program that aims to recruit, place, and train charter school leaders in the state.
The organization, which was founded to recruit and support high-quality charter operators to the state, is currently working with Promise Academy in Memphis to expand their program and open a second school. The Incubator is helping that charter school recruit and select a founder for the second location and will help provide training for the teachers and leaders at the school.