By Steve Pickett

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DALLAS (CBS11) – Abigail Cedillo gets to Uplift Peak Preparatory School in Old East Dallas before 8:00 a.m. each weekday morning.

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The 6th grader’s mom drives her from Forney. “We lived in Dallas, but we wanted Peak,” Elizabeth Cedillo said, while sitting inside the school’s main hallway. Cedillo opted for the Dallas areaCharter school for Elizabeth, based on her family’s experience in Dallas ISD Schools.

“I saw how the teachers were treating her, and what she was and what she wasn’t learning,” she explained.

Elizabeth is one of 28,000 former Dallas ISD students attending publicly funded charter schools. ‘There’s an over proliferation of charters in this area,” Dalllas ISD Trustee Joyce Foreman complains.

Foreman is describing her representative district for Dallas Public Schools. Her section of South Oak Cliff has one-half of the established charter school operations within the boundaries of Dallas ISD.

“Charters don’t perform better than traditional public schools,” Foreman claims, and it’s the motivation for her campaign to stop a proposed building of the latest charter campus in the Oak Cliff area, the Uplift Pinnacle campus for upper grades. “If charters are so great, why aren’t there any in North Dallas,” Foreman argues.

The operators of Uplift Education confirm five of their charter schools in mostly minority sections of Dallas and Fort Worth failed to meet state required student achievement standards. Uplift operates 34 schools on 17 sites.

“We are responding to parent demand for the types of schools they’re looking for, and we are meeting and filling that demand,” Yasmin Bhatia, CEO of Uplift Education said.

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Uplift’s proposal to build a middle and high school facility along I-35 and Camp Wisdom would be part of the current Uplift Pinnacle Charter currently serving 500 K-5 schoolchildren. Bhatia says

Uplift builds schools where the demand is located.

“We aren’t taking children away from public schools. We offer families a public school they desire. We have a waiting list for families,” she said.

Foreman will fight to block further charter school development in her district.

“They are taking money from real public schools. There are too many in the community I represent,” she said.

The Dallas City Council must approve any building construction of charter schools within city limits.

The council is expected to vote next Wednesday.

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