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Ruling twice denies Texas charter schools

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Amarillo, TX -- When a district judge ruled this week that the Texas school financing system is not only deeply flawed, but inherently unconstitutional, public schoolteachers cheered -- but charter schools had less to celebrate.

Monday's ruling gave public schools a sense of hope that equitable funding could someday be restored to Texas classrooms - but charter schools - publicly-funded schools held under less government oversight - were denied both funding and the ability to expand. 

District Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of public schools, but rejected a push to end the cap on how many charter school permits can be issued, which currently stands at 215.  Charter school advocates say more schools would create more competition, which would ultimately raise the standard for education in Texas, as Director of Amarillo's Richard Milburn Academy Becky Pinson explains,

"I think it's just like anything else; competition makes us better, and if more charter schools were to come in and those charter schools do a good job, then I think it makes all of us work harder to do a better job."

Governor Rick Perry has voiced his support for both charter schools and the much-contested voucher system, saying the more choices parents have in their child's education, the better that education will be.

"Limiting a child to just one opportunity does nothing more than limit that child's future," said Perry in his Jan. 29th State of the State Address.  "The way forward must involve more public charter schools, which offer parents a tuition-free alternative to their neighborhood school."

Public schoolteachers say state funding is stretched thin enough as it is, and throwing charter schools into the mix will only complicate matters, as Amarillo ISD Board President Jim Austin says,

"I hate to see a distraction away from what we're trying to accomplish, and a diminishment of funds away from what we're trying to accomplish. There are enough distractions in the funding model without adding charter schools to it."

If you'd like to see Governor Perry's recent speech to the Texas Education Agency or find a bit more perspective on the matter, just follow the links attached to this story.

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