TPPF Announces Formation of New Education Organization -Four Charter Schools Open by this Fall-

San Antonio – Texas will have a new organization dedicated to forming world class charter schools beginning July 1, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a nonprofit research institute based in San Antonio. TPPF’s former Vice President, Melinda Wheatley, will head Project Restoration, a separate nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring inner city communities through the creation of quality charter schools. “All children, regardless of race or income, have the right to a world class education,” Wheatley said. “Children living in poor neighborhoods can excel in charter schools and go on to achieve enormous success in life. I want to create as many opportunities for them as possible,” she said.

Wheatley formed the New Frontiers Charter School in south San Antonio last year, which serves over 550 K-5 youth. New Frontiers will add a grade per year until it has a complete high school. She will open three other charter schools in Dallas, Houston and Midland this fall. The schools utilize Direct Instruction, a phonics-based curriculum that produces rapid academic improvement for at-risk youth. Her schools are patterned after Dr. Thaddeus Lott’s successful Wesley School in Houston’s Fifth Ward. Dr. Lott has also joined Project Restoration’s Board of Directors.

Charter schools are public schools approved by the State Board of Education to operate with decreased regulation. There are currently 168 charter schools in Texas either operating or scheduled to open in fall 1999. The Texas Legislature created the program in 1995 and significantly expanded it in 1997 to allow an unlimited number of charter schools for those serving at-risk populations.

Charter schools may not charge students tuition. They are open-enrollment, meaning that all children who want to attend may do so provided there is space. In 1999, over 2,300 students alone will be served by the charter schools Wheatley has formed in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Midland. At the New Frontiers Charter School in San Antonio, over 80% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The schools will be managed by Advantage Schools, Inc., an education management company based in Boston.

TPPF President Jeff Judson believes Project Restoration will go far to improve public education in Texas. “There is a great need for this type of organization. We at TPPF are proud of Melinda’s dedication to charter schools, and we look forward to working with Project Restoration,” he said. TPPF will distribute to parents in each of the four charter schools its nationally-acclaimed Parent’s Handbook for Successful Schools.