Posted by: Ted | May 24, 2010

Why to oppose the legislation to lift the cap on Charter Schools in NC!

From an Article by Jim Stegall who is a contributor to Carolina Journal. (You can read the entire article here: http://www.carolinajournal.com/exclusives/display_exclusive.html?id=6448)
My comments in ( )

Basic Facts on Charter Schools in NC
*The original charter law said that charters should target at-risk students
*Charter start-ups typically demand enormous commitments of time, money, and effort on the part of citizens who attempt them
*The current cap on charter schools in NC is 100

Legislation Currently Under Consideration:
*The proposal is to raise the cap to 106 (Why should there be a cap on successful charter schools?)
*The proposal would mandate the closing of any charter school which has fewer than 60 percent of its students scoring “at grade level” on state-administered standardized tests, and also fails to meet its state-assigned growth targets for two out of any three school years. With this requirement it would make sense to found new charters only in areas where most students were already on grade level to avoid the potential for closure and loss of their initial investment. While regular, non-charter public schools are supposed to meet the same goals, and that it’s only fair to hold charter schools to the same standard charter schools face tougher consequences should they fail. When a charter school closes, staff members lose their jobs, and students are returned to their regular district schools, even if the district schools are worse than the charters that closed. District schools that fail continue to operate and typically are given extra help from the state, though in extreme cases teachers and administrators could be removed.

This was illustrated graphically in March when the board voted not to renew the charter of The Academy of Moore County. The academy had suffered through several years of declining test scores earlier this decade, but was clearly improving and had met its federally mandated “adequate yearly progress” goal for the previous school year. Barring a legal challenge, the vote effectively closes the school as of June 30, despite the recommendation of the Office of Charter Schools that its charter be renewed. (See “Officials Baffled by State Decision to Close Charter,” May CJ.)

Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison’s Proposal:
In an effort to try to provide an alternative to public schools who haven’t done well Harrison suggests charter school legislation that would give schools the opportunity not to be restricted by state board policies and legislation.” His proposal, which is still being drafted, could allow these “district charters” greater flexibility in terms of staffing, programs, and operations.

Under Harrison’s plan, the newly converted charters would still fall under the control of their local school boards, unlike traditional charters which have their own independent boards. In the district charters, the selection of the principal, setting of the budget, and other major decisions would be made by the local school board, but these schools would be freed from some district rules, including hiring and firing of staff and compensation.

The standards for student achievement, however, would be the same as for other charter schools, and any district charter that failed to meet those standards would lose its charter and revert to being a regular district school. “With freedom comes responsibility,” Harrison said. (I assume he is saying that without freedom you don’t have responsibility or at least not the same level of responsibility. Is that the thinking of educational leaders that our children need that will result in better educational outcomes?)

As with the bill to raise the cap, some charter school advocates are wary of this proposal, too. Charter school alliance board member Michelle Godard Terrell is not convinced that local school boards can run charter schools effectively. (Why should these local school boards be any more effective at running a charter school than they had been at running a public school? Is this just a proposal to try to get more charter schools to fail and give them a bad name? If they are truly willing to provide freedom they need to let go and allow the charter school to succeed or fail on their own merit as opposed to keeping the leash on and guaranteeing failure.)

Godard Terrell stated: “Historically, the greatest opposition to growth of charters in North Carolina has come from school boards, some parent-teacher associations, and teacher associations — the very folks that would be involved with these new semi-charter schools.”

Update:  It seems the State Board of Education is trying to undermind the Charter School movement through passage of SB 704.  This legislation raises the cap on charter schools to 135 as long as they are under the control of the local school board.  The same people who if they had been doing their job would never have had the public school fail in the first place. 
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Responses

  1. Good grief. Who could possibly be behind all of this? I assume the teachers unions? This is truly disturbing. When you’ve got adults basically forcing children into terrible schools because they don’t want to be shown up by other better schools, the world has truly been turned upside down. Everything liberalism touches turns to crap. They truly cannot say, “this is for the children” because it’s obvious it’s not.


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