Wait List Grows for Charter Schools in San Antonio, Texas

As the new school looms, the waiting list of parents wanting to enroll their kids in one of the three charter school chains in San Antonio has reached nearly 40,000, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The group Families Empowered, which supports charter school families, says that mirrors a statewide trend.  Spokeswoman Rachael Dempsey says across Texas, there are 141,000 children on waiting lists for charter schools.

"The innovative programs that they officer," she said of the huge increase in interest in charter schools.  "Its opportunity for the families who might be looking for a different option."

Charter schools are public schools which are operated not by Independent School Districts but by private corporations.  Unlike traditional public schools, they don't have enrollment zones, and generally students are selected from a lottery system.

Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools are not obligated to follow the curriculum approved by the State Board of Education and by the Texas Legislature, although all charter school students must take standardized tests.

Dempsey says one reason why parents are turning to charter schools is the recent school shootings.

"If they feel that their current school is not safe enough, if a child is not being well served academically or socially, they might look for another option."

Dempsey points out that with 39,000 plus kids on waiting lists, if the children enrolled in the three charter schools companies in Bexar County or waiting for enrollment were added together, they would make up the fourth largest school district in metro San Antonio.

"Each year, thousands will end up on a waiting list, because of the number of families who want to access this brand of public education."

She praised the San Antonio ISD as well as Pre-K 4 SA, which have both entered into partnerships recently with charter school companies to expand access to high quality education.

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