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.