City Council Backs Charter Schools in Contentious Vote

posted by Jim Forsyth - 

San Antonio City Council came down on the side of charter schools as Council was asked to approve a loan agreement for the Charter Company Great Hearts Academy to open a new school on the city's northwest side, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

North side Councilman John Courage, who is a retired school teacher, said public schools are being stripped of funds as students are lured to charter schools operated by for-profit corporations.  

He said local government should not be supporting the growth of charter schools.

"I feel its incumbent upon the city, and I feel it is important for our fellow governments in the area, to recognize that our public school systems need more support," Courage said in voting against the proposal.

Charter schools are public schools, but are operated not by traditional Independent School Districts, but by private, for-profit companies.  Unlike ISDs, charter schools can enroll students from anywhere in the community, and many pride themselves on offering specific targeted programs which are not generally offered by traditional public schools.

Backers of traditional public schools say the growth of charter schools starve ISD's of tax funding, because state aid to education is distributed on a per pupil basis.

Opponents of charters say they also discourage parents from supporting bond issues and other proposals to fully fund neighborhood schools.

Councilman Clayton Perry, who voted for the resolution, compared charter schools to the disruption caused by Uber on the transportation industry, and said public education can benefit from that disruption.

"They need to reconfigure, shift their methodologies, and copy some of these great ideas that are being put out there by the charter schools and the private schools," Perry said.

The Great Hearts School will be built near Prue and Huebner Roads on the northwest side.The resolution to support the loan was approved, with only Courage voting 'no.'

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