Education

This fair helps parents learn about school choices

Charter schools are one option mentioned in the national discussion around “school choice.” They are taxpayer-funded public schools, but still operate differently than traditional public and private schools.
Charter schools are one option mentioned in the national discussion around “school choice.” They are taxpayer-funded public schools, but still operate differently than traditional public and private schools. Nicole L. Cvetnic / McClatchy

Want to know the difference between a public charter and private school?

The answers can be found Saturday at the first-ever Tarrant County Public Choice Schools Fair. The free event at TCC is part of a broader effort to help families and community leaders understand charter schools.

The Texas Charter Schools Association describes these campuses as free public school options for families. While charter schools have greater flexibility than typical public schools, they are approved and monitored by the state.

Todd Landry, Lena Pope’s chief executive officer, said parents and families often wonder about school options, but don’t understand the educational landscape. He said common questions are: “What is a charter school? What is a choice school?”

Landry said there is a movement in Tarrant County to work together to best meet the needs of families. He said charter schools are partnering with the Fort Worth school district and nine other groups that operate charter schools in Fort Worth and Arlington.

“We are coming to the realization that there is a not a one size fits all method,” Landry said.

Lena Pope operates a charter school in south Fort Worth. Chapel Hill Academy is an open-enrollment, tuition-free public charter school. Lena Pope is helping host the fair.

The fair will include information from the Fort Worth school district about its Schools of Choice program — stand alone academic programs that focus on specific areas of learning. The Young Women’s Leadership Academy and the Young Men’s Leadership Academy are two examples of choice schools in the Fort Worth school district.

The Fort Worth school district is exploring a public-charter option. Preliminary plans for such a program are expected to be presented to the school board in upcoming weeks, said Clint Bond, a spokesman with the district.

“We recently issued a call for ‘great schools’ to join with us in a public-charter hybrid that would help us sustain the great success we have had with our leadership academies and would provide our teachers and students with more resources as school funding continues to be a challenge facing lawmakers,” Bond said in an email statement.

“We believe there is much to be gained, for everyone, in the types of educational arrangements we are pursuing. We are also very proud of our Schools and Programs of Choice which have a reputation of drawing students to our schools from the private sector.”

The Texas Charter School Association lists 26 charter schools in Fort Worth.

If you go

Tarrant County Public Choice Schools Fair from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at TCC South Campus, 5301 Campus Dr. in Fort Worth.

The event is free and will include snacks, free vision exams and child-care information from the YMCA. Attendees can enter a drawing to win a Chromebook laptop computer.

In the proposed FWISD $749.7 million bond package about $34 million would pay for improvements to Dunbar High School. The district wants to modernize learning spaces used for career and tech programs at all the high schools. There are about 18,000



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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.

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