The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) held its sixth 2017 Texas Public Charter Schools Rally earlier this week at the state capitol with public charter school students, parents, teachers, leaders, and advocates from campuses across the state.
Momentum continues to grow for public charter schools as the state Legislature approaches the last month of the 85th Session. Rally attendees were there to garner support for key priorities, especially facilities funding for public charter schools, and to meet with legislators on the importance of quality public charter schools.
The rally began with the Houston Gateway Academy marching band leading the charter school rally participants to the south steps of the Texas Capitol. The crowd was further energized by an exciting lineup of speakers including Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
“I will do all I can in this budget conference to get money for the first time into facility funding for charter schools,” Patrick said. “We will not stop, session after session until we are victorious I’m getting facility funding that you deserve.”
Additionally, rally participants heard from Larontay Chester, a high school senior at Inspired Vision Secondary in Dallas; Bardo Montelongo, a parent of a student attending Wayside Public Schools in Austin; and Derrick and Lindsay Bowman, who spoke about having their children on a waiting list to attend IDEA Public Schools at campuses in Austin.
Chester told the crowd, “I learned the state pays fourteen hundred dollars less for my education because I go to a charter school versus the school district in my zip code. Today, I’m here to ask the legislators--Senator Royce West and Representative Toni Rose—who represent my school, why do I get less because my family selected the right school for me?”
Senator Donna Campbell, a charter school mother and author of SB 457, spoke about her bill which proposes to provide charter schools with facilities funding. Please Note: One day after the rally, SB 457 was passed out of the Texas Senate. TCSA thanks Lt. Governor Patrick and Senator Campbell for their efforts to shepherd this bill and provide charter schools with facilities funds.
The crowd also heard from legislators from both chambers including Senator Don Huffines; Representative Dwayne Bohac, co-author of HB 2337, the House companion bill to SB 457; and Representative Jim Murphy, author of HB 467, which would increase charters’ access to the Permanent School Bond Guarantee Bond Program, and HB 382/SJR 34 which would provide property tax relief to charters leasing their facilities. The last legislator to address the crowd was Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, the first charter operator to be elected to the Texas House of Representatives.
There was a strong showing from public charter schools statewide including A+ Charter Academy; Anne Frank; Austin Achieve; East Austin College Prep; East Grand Prep; George Gervin Academy; Great Hearts; Harmony Public Schools’ campuses in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio; Houston Gateway Academy; Horizon Montessori Public Schools; IDEA Public Schools’ campuses in Austin, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley; ILTexas; Inspired Vision Secondary; Legacy Preparatory; Lumin; KIPP Public Schools in Austin, Houston, San Antonio; Meridian; New Frontiers; NYOS (Not Your Ordinary School); Odyssey; Orenda Education; Priority; Southwest Schools; St. Anthony School & Community Center; Wayside Public Schools; and Yes Prep.
TCSA wants to thank everyone who participated in the rally for coming to advocate for students at public charter schools and all those on a waiting list to attend one!
The day after the rally, SB 457 passed the Senate and now heads to the House, where similar bills have been heard in committee and are awaiting a vote. This is great news, but our work is not done.
Click here to email your state representative right now and let them know public charter school children are not worth less. It's time to provide them with needed facilities funding.