In Fort Bend County, we hear about the state of affairs of public schools on a regular basis, which is great. After all, it’s our tax dollars that are helping to educate our children.
Fort Bend ISD, with its headquarters in Sugar Land, is boasting 77,000 students this year. Private schools and home schooling in the area also make for more students. So do charter schools, which did not exist in this state until they were authorized by the Texas Legislature in 1995 to encourage more innovation in education.
These public charter schools are free and an option for families with school-aged children. They have academic and financial accountability systems that apply to them, just like other public schools. Given that, and the fact that tax dollars from the state and the federal government for grant programs are what also fund these public schools, why are they not as much in the limelight given their growing numbers?
Juliette Nessmith, director of programs with the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, said that the area’s charter schools were not invited to participate in this year’s State of the Schools address. An administrator from Harmony Public Schools, a statewide network of charter schools that operates in Sugar Land, said they were invited each of the previous five years.
The 12th annual event is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Safari Texas Ranch, where overviews will be given by three local leaders in education – FBISD’s Charles Dupre, Stafford Municipal School District’s Robert Bostic and Thomas Randle of Lamar Consolidated School District.
Those superintendents are well-known in our community, but who are the charter school administrative notables? Do we know them? Do they have their own moment in the sun together with the public school superintendents, or on their own?
For Harmony Public Schools, Ramazan Coskuner is its superintendent for the Houston South Area. His is not a name that is as familiar as the other superintendents’ names. Neither are the other leaders of area charter schools.
Nessmith said charter school representatives are invited to participate annually with the chamber programs in its education division. But they were not asked to be part of the state of schools event.
“That would be an interesting concept,” she said, acknowledging that the chamber has “done a number of different things with them for different programs, other events with our education division.”
The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce says on its website, “We strive to build awareness of the importance of high-quality public education to the social and economic well-being of the Fort Bend community.”
Let’s keep it that way and keep the community aware of all its public schools, including the charters.