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Board of Ed considers allowing paid trips to charter schools

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Board of Education is mulling allowing its members to take all-expenses-paid trips to tour out-of-state campuses of charter school networks seeking approval to operate in Texas.

The fact-finding missions would be funded by private foundations or individual donors - not taxpayers or the charter schools themselves.

But they require changing ethics rules. The board's 10 Republicans and five Democrats are set to vote on doing so Friday in Austin.

Critics deride such travel as junkets and worry about conflicts of interest. They say private money shouldn't be allowed to influence decisions about what charter schools are ultimately approved to receive public education funding.

Still, supporters on the board say seeing charter applicants' schools first-hand is more important than ever, amid calls to let more out-of-state networks operate in Texas.

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