Great Hearts: Hey! The wealthy need segregated charters too!?

I noted neither a critical or opposing view in the first MYSA article, but David Safier, an Arizona blogger, has plenty of information on Great Hearts, a charter seeking to open schools in San Antonio. Is Great Hearts banking on segregation in their charters?

Thanks to Karen from Houston for sending along the info for this thread.

 Charter school operators hoping to open in S.A.

Great Hearts is one of three charter applicants seeking to open schools in San Antonio next year. The others are BASIS, also from Arizona, and the Eleanor Kolitz Academy, a private Jewish day school that wants to reconstitute as a public charter called Ben Yehuda Academy. The State Board of Education will vote on these and 11 other charter applications in November. Both BASIS and Great Hearts were lured to San Antonio by the George Brackenridge Foundation, which donated $1 million to each and is helping them leverage additional funding. The foundation has also supported KIPP-San Antonio and the recent expansion of IDEA Public Schools into San Antonio.

Nashville Schools’ principled stand against Great Hearts charters costs them $3.4 million

The strongly conservative Tennessee legislature wanted a charter school in Nashville run by Great Hearts, a conservative-led charter school chain in Phoenix. The Nashville school board said no. Until recently, Tennessee charter schools could only be for low income students, and the proposed Great Hearts charter would be set up in a ritzy area of town and function as a government subsidized private school for rich kids.

So the state is withholding $3.4 million from the district.

The roughly $3.4 million in non-classroom administrative funds that state officials plan to withhold is part of a pool that includes student transportation, utilities and maintenance for 5,000 classrooms and more than 80,000 students, according to the statement.

Great Hearts schools in Phoenix have a number of fees parents have to pay, and the schools strongly recommend parents contribute at least $1,200-$1,500 per year per child. I mentioned their Scottsdale and Mesa schools which have almost about 90% White and Asian students. I didn’t mention Teleos Prep in central Phoenix, which is 69% Black, 16% Hispanic and 12% White — 64% are on reduced lunch. Interestingly, the curriculum that seems to work so well in the high rent districts isn’t doing so well with a lower income student body. Scores on achievement tests are low.

Great Hearts believes in separate-but-unequal schools. When people in Nashville told Great Hearts board President Jay Heiler they wanted a diverse, heterogeneous student body, Heiler replied,

“We have schools that land all over the map [in Phoenix],” Heiler says. “Some would be serving very middle-class folks by and large, we have one inner-city school that serves ethnic minority kids, and we have another one that would open that would be similar to that. In Tennessee it seems like there was more of a focus of bringing diversity into each school, whereas here we try to serve a diversity of communities.” [boldface added for emphasis]

Great Hearts Charters: Our educational model costs more than we get from the state

Great Hearts Academy charter schools ask its parents to give between $1,200 and $1,500 per student per year. From the Scottsdale Preparatory Academy website:

The essential priorities of Scottsdale Prep’s educational model cost more per-student than what we receive from the state. Therefore, we ask our families to contribute to the annual Community Investment campaign and help make up that difference. . . . We ask each family to contribute $1,500 to cover the per-student gap between what we need for our academic model and what we receive from the state.

When you look at the school’s contribution form, it’s clear $1,500 per child is considered a minimum donation.

Charter school proponents like to talk about how lean and mean they can be financially without all those pesky unions and that burdensome district bureaucracy. It looks like Great Hearts Academies have a different model. They’re giving privileged kids a private school education on the taxpayer’s dime — plus $2,000 or more per student per family to make up the difference. And it’s schools like Scottsdale Prep and BASIS the “education reform” conservatives use as examples why charters provide superior education while they ignore the largely mediocre-to-poor charter schools filled with less privileged students.


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Categories: Charter Schools, School Finance

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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10 Comments on “Great Hearts: Hey! The wealthy need segregated charters too!?”

  1. October 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Until we have true equality in education we will not have excellence. Thanks for posting this!

    • tx1
      February 24, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Bill, kids are not equally educated when they show up on the first day of class in Kindergarten.

      There is a bell curve of natural ability (from learning disabled to profoundly gifted) overlaid with another bell curve of learning received at home (from almost zero positive interaction to lots of educational attention, trips to museums, etc.)

      So how do you propose creating true equality in education in this environment?

      I would go so far as to say that I think the exact opposite of your statement is true: when there is true equality in education, there will be no excellence.

      • February 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

        “A rising tide lifts all boats” JFK

        Elitism does not.


  1. Great Hearts Pt. II: Hey! The wealthy need segregated charters too!? | Cloaking Inequity - October 22, 2012

    [...] previously discussed on this blog, Great Hearts Academies has targeted San Antonio. This is the same Great Hearts that [...]

  2. Dr. Soto, I am disappointed | Cloaking Inequity - November 4, 2012

    [...] on Great Hearts in Arizona has demonstrated their business model appears to segregate schools.( See here and [...]

  3. Pre-K, a Gold Standard: “You certainly don’t get what you don’t pay for” | Cloaking Inequity - November 13, 2012

    [...] be tasked with implementing the new University Pre-K initiative? Will it be KIPP or Great Hearts (1,2,3)? I surely hope not. You could see Pre-K being used as a gateway into their systems by [...]

  4. 1st Annual Educational Policy Turkey of the Year Award | Cloaking Inequity - November 18, 2012

    [...] granted a new charter in Texas. Discussed on CI here and here and here. (An interesting book about Great Hearts entitled It’s All About the [...]

  5. Exclusive to Cloaking Inequity: A Banned Book About a Charter School? | Cloaking Inequity - December 3, 2012

    [...] new charter in Texas. Discussed on CI here and here and here. (An interesting book about Great Hearts entitled It’s All About the [...]

  6. San Antonio's Choose to Succeed Brings Great Hearts Charter Schools to Wealthy Neighborhoods - December 13, 2012

    [...] Choose to Succeed says it has raised $18 million so far, and its first two recruits, Great Hearts and BASIS, recently won state approval to open their first schools in San Antonio next fall. It will be Great Hearts’ first foray outside of Arizona, where it operates a dozen schools. In its home state, anyway, Great Hearts schools in Arizona make it clear to parents that their donations are what keep the school running, as University of Texas education professor Julian Vazquez Heilig has pointed out. [...]

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    […] corporate charters (Click here). Because The wealthy need segregated charters too!? (1 and 2), “Diversity is too hard” and What BASIS?: Nepotism and aggrandizement in charters Notably, […]

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