One of the common arguments against the creation of charter schools is that they take resources away from traditional district schools. Too often this sentiment threatens to create a rift between traditional district schools and public charters, taking the focus off students in both settings. PIE Network member Texas Aspires has been working hard not only to overcome these divisions, but also highlight ways in which traditional district schools and public charters can work together for the benefit of all children.
During the 2017 legislative session, their team championed Senate Bill 1882 and House Bill 3439 that encouraged the creation of partnerships between traditional district schools and the charter schools within the same district. The bills provided multiple incentives for districts and charters that agreed to share facilities, programming, or teacher development, or help engage in turnaround work.
First, each student participating in the partnership would be funded at the higher per student funding amount of either the charter or the district. Second, partnerships at district schools identified as underperforming would be granted up to two years of reprieve from escalating accountability interventions. Both of these incentives were designed to create an environment of collaboration between the districts and charters, which would ultimately lead to student success.
In order to get this legislation passed, Texas Aspires partnered with school districts that already had compacts in place. This allowed for compelling testimony from superintendents and charter school operators who were able to speak about the positive effects working together had on their students in both the charter and district schools.
Ultimately, the legislation drew bipartisan support, passing by large margins in both chambers. The work of both policymakers and advocates helped charters and districts align on a common vision—the overall success of all students.