Bill Could Privatize Schools in Every Senate District

Bill Could Privatize Schools in Every Senate District

Both Urban and Rural Schools at Risk under Sen. Shapiro’s Bill

April 18, 2005

AUSTIN A Texas Freedom Network analysis shows that every state Senate district could see local schools turned over to private, for-profit companies under a proposed Senate education overhaul bill. The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to continue debate on the bill, C.S.H.B. 2, on Tuesday (April 19).

“Parents all over the state could find their schools run by companies whose first priority is making a profit for investors, not educating our kids,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “Even worse, those for-profit education companies the biggest of which is Edison Schools have a terrible record on student performance.”

The bill by Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, would authorize the state education commissioner to farm out to for-profit companies the management of schools rated academically unacceptable for two years in a row. The number of such schools could be huge. Beginning in 2006, under new Texas Education Agency (TEA) rules, schools will need a higher student passing rate on state tests to be rated academically acceptable.

According to recent news reports, TEA estimates that more than 1,200 public schools might now be rated academically unacceptable if the new rules had been in place last year. That would be 13 times the number of schools that currently have such a rating.

The Texas Freedom Network reviewed TEA data to identify specific schools that would have been rated academically unacceptable this year under the new rules. Not surprisingly, large urban Senate districts had the most schools at risk for privatization. Yet even Senate districts with mostly smaller cities and rural areas have a significant number of such schools.

For example, District 18 represented by Sen. Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria has at least 31 schools that could have been rated academically unacceptable this year under the new rules. Many of the schools were in small towns, such as Boling, Hempstead, Luling and Yoakum. Sen. Shapiro’s District 8 has the fewest number of schools just two at risk for privatization. [See the list of schools.]

Not every school on the list would necessarily remain low-performing for two consecutive years, but many could, Miller said.

“Sen. Shapiro’s bill would allow the commissioner to turn those schools over to companies like Edison, which failed students across the country,” Miller said. “Worse, this could be done with no input from local school boards or parents.”