Texas has enough open-enrollment charter schools for now, says the state board of education, which is asking the legislature not to raise the cap on such charter schools when it convenes next year.
"We're asking the legislature to give us a two-year period to evaluate the ones we've approved," state board member Rene Nuñez said in an interview. "We just feel there are some questions to be answered."
Since 1995, the board has approved plans for 159 charter schools, which are independently run public schools that operate free of most state regulations. Sixty-five of the charter schools are up and running; they serve 11,000 Texas students.
Of the schools that have been approved, 120 have open-enrollment charters, which is the maximum number allowed under state law. Open-enrollment charter schools serve any and all students. Texas officials have agreed to allow an unlimited number of charters for schools that serve at-risk students.
By a 10-3 vote this month, the board said that it needs more time to evaluate the existing open-enrollment charters before awarding more, and asked the legislature not to raise the cap.
That move angered Rep. Mike Krusee, a Republican charter school backer, who operates the New Frontiers charter school in San Antonio.
"What they've said is that 'we don't want the responsibility to exercise our judgment,' " he said in an interview. "If they don't want that kind of responsibility, maybe it should be taken away."
Kudos for Miller
Retiring Georgia Gov. Zell Miller will never be able to say his contributions to the state went unnoticed.
After a campaign season in which Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes (now the governor-elect) and Republican candidate Guy Millner both promised to preserve Mr. Miller's lottery-funded education programs, the two-term governor recently received a formal acknowledgement of his accomplishments as one of Governing magazine's 11 Public Officials of the Year.
The magazine, which covers state and local government, recognized Mr. Miller, a Democrat, for popular programs at both ends of the education spectrum. It highlighted his universal-prekindergarten and college-scholarship programs, both financed with lottery proceeds, during a Nov. 18 ceremony in Washington.
--ROBERT C. JOHNSTON & JESSICA L. SANDHAM
Vol. 18, Issue 13, Page 14Published in Print: November 25, 1998, as State Journal