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31 Days, 31 Ways: 56,000 Texas Kids Remain on Charter School Waiting Lists

DAY 21 of our month-long series on the effects of new state laws and budget cuts: Nearly 56,000 students will remain on charter school waiting lists after lawmakers failed to lift a cap on the number of charters the SBOE can grant.

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31 Days 31 Ways

Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune is featuring 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. Check out our story calendar here

Day 21: Nearly 56,000 students remain on charter school waiting lists after lawmakers fail to lift the cap for new programs.

Sometimes, lawmakers affect Texans' lives by not passing legislation. This year, one of the issues they left unresolved concerns the state's strict cap on the number of charter schools that are allowed to operate in Texas. Charter school advocates had pushed lawmakers to give the State Board of Education authority to grant 20 more charters every year. But the clock ran out on the regular and special legislative sessions with no action, and the current limit of 215 charters remains.

The Texas Charter School Association represents nearly 390 charter campuses statewide that educate about 120,000 students. (Note: charters are allowed to open in numerous locations.) Without the ability to open a wider diversity of schools, TCSA estimates 56,000 students will remain on waiting lists.

To understand why there is such a demand for charter schools, we spoke to Denik and Terry Hunter, of Houston. Thanks to a lottery, their daughter, 12-year-old Takiyah, now attends YES Prep in Houston, a charter program with several campuses in underserved areas of the city. Started in 1998, YES Prep teaches students from 6th through 12th grades. The school currently has 9,000 students on its waiting list, and for good reason: 100 percent of students at the school are accepted to college. Watch our interview with the Hunter family below.

Web resources:

Texas Education Agency FAQ on charter schools

Texas Charter School Association advocates on behalf of parents and students

**As part of The Texas Tribune's ongoing effort to explain the fallout from the 2011 regular and special sessions, we encourage you to engage with us and be part of our coverage. Respond to our stories below. Post a comment on our Facebook page. Send photos to our Tumblr site. We may come to you in the future to help us tell the story of how Texas is changing.

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Public education State government 82nd Legislative Session Texas Legislature