Sunday, February 7, 2016

Is Dallas building a charter school bubble in Southwest Dallas that could eventually burst?

Over 50% of the children attending school within the Carter Feeder Pattern in Southwest Dallas are already attending charter schools. More such charter schools are being planned and built.

A critical question must be asked.  Is Dallas building a charter school bubble in Southwest Dallas that could eventually bust?

On December 16, 2015 a new study was published pointing out the parallels between the housing mortgage crisis and the growth of poorly granted mortgages and the charter school crisis that may be forming due to the very similar growth of poorly managed and funded charter schools where the public is taking the risk but not carefully watching how millions are being invested.

See an article about this thesis titled "An alarming new study says charter schools are America's new subprime mortgages" at

The research is titled "Are We Heading Toward a Charter School 'Bubble'?: Lessons from the Subprime Mortgage Crisis" and is published online at 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ISD's and Charter Schools compared, Snapshot 2014 Data

The following data is from the valuable Snapshot pages that provide 98 critical data items on each school district in Texas, both charter and ISD district, going back 20 years.  Notice the differences.  Go to the web site at to see the data on any school district you are interested in.   Below is a summary of 2013/14 data posted online last summer. Each summer another year is posted.  The data is captured in three pages.  Click on them to enlarge them for study.  Many questions are indicated by this data:  Why do charters choose to pay teachers less when they get more operational money per student than ISD's?

Enrollment decline 5th to 6th grade to avoid middle schools in DISD.

Dallas ISD worst enrollment loss is 5th to 6th grade.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Southwest Center Mall & Charter Schools?

On January 13, 2016 the Dallas City Council will be asked to consider making about a $2.4 million grant to a multimillionaire who now owns the majority of the land at the Southwest Center Mall.  

In preparation for this meeting we will be having a community meeting at the Polk Wisdom Library this Tuesday, 1-5-16, starting at 5:30 PM with refreshments and discussion and a formal meeting promptly starting at 6:00 PM.  

We will have people present from the Economic Development Committee as well as the new owner of SW Center Mall, Peter Brodsky. I welcome this new investor to our neighborhood and hope we can work with him to be exceptionally successful. Here is information about him from the information presented to the Economic Development Committee on 10-28-15: 

"Owner: Peter S. Brodsky (3662 W Camp Wisdom LLC) A Dallas resident for over 20 years, Peter enjoyed a successful career in private equity at Hicks Muse (HM) and its successor firm, HM Capital, from 1995-2010. After leaving HM, Peter became the Board Chair of KIPP Dallas-Fort Worth, a high performing charter school group focused on serving southern Dallas. During his leadership, KIPP DFW has grown from one school serving 300 students to four schools in Oak Cliff serving over 1,300 hundred students. With the anticipated opening of KIPP DFW’s fifth school in August 2016, which will be in Pleasant Grove, KIPP DFW will serve over 2,000 southern Dallas students. Peter recently acquired the Southwest Center Mall and a few of the surrounding properties with a plan to execute a total redevelopment of the site, turning it into a high quality retail, entertainment, and residential center for southern Dallas."

Again, the above text comes from the material presented to the Dallas Economic Development Committee on 10-28-15.  You can find it in Appendix A of this document, online at:

The document recommends many actions that include a Dallas City Grant of $2,400,000 be made to the current owner of SW Center Mall.

Due to the intense history of charter school development by Mr. Brodsky, and the intense saturation of charter schools in Southwest Dallas, and the growing concerns about charter school performance in Texas, it is recommended that a deed restriction be placed on this mall property so that it cannot be used for a charter school. 

Since a charter school placement is not being considered, and nobody is documented as even talking about that possibility, this should not be a difficult condition to meet.

This recommendation is made for many reasons but mostly due to the intense saturation of the Southwest side of Dallas by charter schools.  Over 53% of all children attending school in the Carter High School feeder pattern are attending charter schools.  This is 20 percentage points more than any of the other 22 feeder patterns in Dallas ISD.

A strongly related reason for this recommendation is the consistent records of charter schools having high student attrition rates, dropout rates 300% higher that independent school districts, and college readiness rates that are significantly lower than ISD's.  This is a very reasonable request. 

(These charter school performance issues are well documented on the Texas Education Agency web site, including the most recent 2014 data at

The main Snapshot web site is at  From there you can secure data on any district in Texas, including charter districts, on 98 data items going back 20 years.)

Bill Betzen

Charter Schools as Investments – 2016

Charter schools are being presented as solid investments for hedge fund managers and other investors:

·       Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City - Forbes, 9/10/13

But the shine from such investments has been fading at the same time:

In recent months more and more truths about charter schools and such investments are being made public.  A good representation of this is a Tampa Bay Times editorial just before Christmas last month:

Taxpayers assume risk, little gain for charter schools 12/24/15

This may be the beginning of the end for charter schools as an investment tool for millionaires, or the public for several reasons:
·       LA charter school study: who benefits? Berkley News 12-21-15, segregating better students into charters. (High charter attrition in Dallas is suspected to be caused by poor students leaving charters.)
·       High Charter School Market Share: A Big City School District Phenomenon 12-4-15,, See where Dallas stands nationally, but within Dallas there are feeder patterns where 53% of children attend charters.
·       These Charter Schools Tried to Turn Public Education Into Big Business. They Failed. Slate 12-17-15, “The decline of for-profit charters underscores another fundamental, and probably immutable, fact about American education: It’s a local, not national enterprise; states pride themselves on the distinctness of their laws and educational approach.

This history of charter schools is actively being written.  The above articles are frightening because we are experimenting on children too often with little public visibility or accountability.  The above articles were found by googling “Charter School Investment” first, and then limiting that search to only the past month.  Do you your own exploration.  Then look at what is happening in your own city.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Construction & Maintenance Transparency as Life or Death Issue


On 12-26-15 a series of tornados went over North Texas killing 11 people.  The morning of 12-31-15 this was the headline and photo (with modifications since) taken from the Dallas Morning News

Without more accountability and transparency relative to all public school construction and maintenance we can only imagine the potential public loss.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Why is name Mike Miles gone from Dallas Morning News?

In 2012 Dallas ISD had improved enough, and public agency transparency had advanced enough, that how terrible things had been for a very long time in DISD was exposed more than ever. The Dallas Mayor and others fixated on the bad news while failing to adequately study the record setting DISD improvements since 2006.

A tragedy was about to happen! The structure that led to the 2006-2012 progress (shown in record setting improvements in both graduation numbers and statewide test scores through 2013) was replaced with the disaster reflected in these charts.  Both graduation numbers and test scores fell.

Here is the same data with 10 more years of history added:

How long before the people of Dallas, and the leaders of Dallas, admit what has happened?  What is that delay in admitting a severe mistake costing our students?

While this tragedy was unfolding in DISD those supporting the main leader in the dismantling of DISD, Mike Miles, began an active cherry picking campaign of pointing to the achievements of subgroups within the Dallas ISD student body who were making progress.  They were presenting this to the Mayor and the public as evidence of progress.  These defenders of Mike Miles refused to look at the numbers for the entire DISD student body.  They clung to cherry picked subgroups with indications of progress. 

They would not even discuss the meaning of record numbers of PEG campuses within DISD.

The evidence of what happened under the leadership of Mike Miles is increasingly hard for the Dallas Morning News and other Dallas Leaders to ignore.  The name of Mike Miles is slowly disappearing from editorials and articles in the Dallas Morning News. It only remains in the comment sections where the public has not forgotten.  The editorial supporting the Mike Morath nomination for Texas Education Commissioner did not even mention the name Mike Miles!  Since Mike Morath was the strongest supporter of Mike Miles on the DISD Board, this is exceptionally interesting.  What is the Dallas Morning News saying?