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Charter School Numbers Growing

Bill Zeeble
Fourth graders at Uplift Education's Peak Preparatory School work at their desks.

For the first time, at least 10 percent of kids in more than 100 school districts nationwide are in charter schools. Dallas is one of those districts, according to a new report funded by charter schools. But while charter advocates are enthusiastic, some Dallas ISD teachers are not impressed.

State funded charter schools have now been in Texas a decade and a half.

The number of charter schools and students who want to attend keep growing here, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "Parents are looking for options," says Dave Dunn, President of the Texas Charter Schools Association. He welcomed the report from the National Alliance. "Charter schools have some flexibility to innovate and create programs that can sometimes better meet tailored needs of individual students and parents really like those options," Dunn says.

In Dallas, 12 percent of DISD students attend charter schools, and parents have children on waiting lists to get in. Dunn wants Texas lawmakers to increase the number of charters now allowed, so more kids can attend. He’s convinced they can do better. "Charter schools outperform the school districts in every category."

Rena Honea is not convinced. "Charter schools are not as productive as they’re made out to be," she says.

Honea is President of the Alliance AFT, the DISD’s largest teacher group. "From talking to teachers in DISD, students from charter schools, many of them, or a majority of those students, are behind in their skills after being at a charter school."

Honea says many traditional public schools are great too, by the state’s own standards. She says districts just lack the marketing moxy to sell parents on their quality.