Charter Champions Announced for Texas State Sen. Van de Putte and Texas Rep. Farney

Charter Champions Announced for Texas State Sen. Van de Putte and Texas Rep. Farney

Public charter schools honor legislators for drop out recovery focus in 83rd session

(Fort Worth, Tex) — Texas public charter schools announced the Charter Champion awards for Texas State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (San Antonio, District 26) and Texas House Representative Marsha Farney (Georgetown, District 20) at the start of the second day of the statewide training conference in Fort Worth. During the 2013 Legislative session, Senator Van de Putte authored Senate Bill 1538 (companion to House Bill 3808, authored by Rep. Marsha Farney during her first session) to support Drop Out Recovery schools and students. Both legislators successfully worked in their respective chambers to pass SB 1538, which had been a legislative priority for Texas charter schools for more than three legislative sessions.

Senator Leticia Van de Putte: “With the passage of Senate Bill 1538, these schools finally get credit and recognition for the impressive and inspiring work that they do: getting students back into high school and through to graduation,” Sen. Van de Putte wrote in her acceptance letter. “Most of the credit goes to the students that attend these schools. It is because of you that this law passed.”

Rep. Marsha Farney: “As both an educator and parent, I’m honored to receive the Charter Champion award from the Texas Charter Schools Association,” said Rep. Marsha Farney during her speech yesterday. “Our charter schools are an important part of our public education system and provide valuable school choice options for Texas families. Ensuring Texans receive the best quality education has been and will remain my top priority.”

Chuck Cook, Responsive Education Solutions: “We will be forever grateful on behalf of so many students who get a second chance for success,” said Chuck Cook, TCSA Board member and school leader for a statewide system of drop out recovery charters, Premier High Schools. “Thank you to Senator Van de Putte and Rep. Farney, for your leadership in the Legislature, for making a difference in young peoples’ lives, and being champions for our charter students.”

The Charter Champion is the highest honor given by the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) members to individuals who have made a significant positive impact on Texas public charter schools and charter students. Rep. Farney accepted her award from Kathleen Zimmermann (NYOS Charter in North Austin) on stage in Fort Worth and delivered remarks to the general session crowd. Sen. Van de Putte was unable to attend the conference in person, but sent a thank you letter to attendees, which was read to the audience by a charter leader from San Antonio, Alfredo Segura, New Frontiers Charter School and TCSA Member Council Chair.

“We have many different missions in public charter schools, but we all care about helping students succeed,” said David Dunn, TCSA executive director. “Charters with a drop out recovery mission help students who have dropped out or are at risk — to find success and a way forward after high school.”

Legislative changes that recognize the unique mission of drop out recovery charters within the accountability system help to ensure accurate measurement of students in drop out recovery schools. Many of the students served by these schools were simply removed from the accountability system altogether and then, their ultimate accomplishment of staying in school and graduating was never counted as a success for the school. This puts these schools in danger of being labeled as unacceptable and potentially shut down merely because they serve the drop out population they intended to serve. Traditional school district and public charter schools with significant enrollment of at‐risk, over‐aged, or credit‐deficient students will now be fairly measured to accurately reflect their quality and effectiveness.

SB 1538 passed the Senate (31 ayes) in early April 2013, and the Texas House (146 Yeas, 1 Nays) on May 8, 2013, and was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on May 24, 2013.