House eyes federal money with school changes

Posted May 20, 2010


— State lawmakers are trying to change how low-performing schools are transformed after missing out on a big pot of federal money.

The House Education Committee on Thursday approved legislation that adopts federal guidelines on reforming poorly performing schools by giving local districts four options on how to revamp them, one of which allows a restart with a structure similar to a charter school. Charters are public schools allowed to operate with fewer rules.

Education Funding House eyes school changes

The cap on the number of traditional charter schools - those not controlled by local districts - would remain at 100 under the bill. The committee rejected a Republican amendment to raise the cap to 106.

There are approximately 115 low-performing schools in the state, according to the governor's office.

"This bill will give local school districts new ammunition in the fight to ensure that every child, no matter where he or she lives, has access to a quality education. We simply cannot continue to tolerate schools that do not prepare our children to graduate ready for a career, college or technical training," Gov. Bev Perdue said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Perdue sought the changes to improve the state's chances after missing out on $600 million in federal Race to the Top grants in March. Applications for a second round of grants are due next month.

State Representative Paul Stam said he likes charter schools, but not the proposed legislation.

“It doesn’t create anymore charter schools,” Stam said.

The low-performing schools, turned charter schools, would still be under the local school board not under an autonomous board like Raleigh Charter High School and other charters.

Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of NC Policy Watch, said he doesn’t like the charter school idea either, but for other reasons.

“If you flip the school into a charter, the kids don’t magically get smarter and the teachers don’t magically get better,” he said.

The House is expected to vote on the bill Monday.


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  • louise46 May 21, 2010

    As a retired English teacher, I have some real questions about the content of the bill. Just exactly how will allowing public schools to function as charter schools make a difference? What does “more flexibility” actually mean? What support do you have to persuade me to accept your argument?

    Secondly, we have at present several charter schools doing an excellent job, but the suggestion is that we not add additional charter schools even thought that is the model the bill suggests be emulated by public schools

    I am liberal and usually vote Democrat, but I support the Republicans’ desire to increase the cap on charters. We lost the first Federal Grant because we did not support charter schools.

    What are the charter schools doing that is successful with students? Perhaps studying the present charters, accepting those that are succeeding with pride as a state, and identifying the characteristics that make them successful would be wise as a first move. Jeanne Alle

  • Adelinthe May 21, 2010

    "Believe that all teachers, even those at lower performing schools are working to make each child succeed."

    In fact, they're probably working harder than those at higher performing schools, much harder probably.

    God bless.


  • jakrijugi May 21, 2010

    Believe that all teachers, even those at lower performing schools are working to make each child succeed. They should not be looked down at because all you are looking at is a test score on one day. Come and visit the school and see for yourself what is really going on. Volunteer, adopt a school, it takes a village and/or parents, teachers and community leaders to ensure all is being done to help raise confidence, belongingness and fairness= all schools having the same resources and number of teachers needed to make growth happen!

  • NoFreakinWay May 21, 2010

    I thought the big fat Rev'rend said we didn't get the money because the new board is going to resegregate schools. So do you mean he was wrong?
    Imagine that!

  • Sidekick May 21, 2010

    'operate with fewer rules' - Does that mean the teachers can get to actually teaching?

  • grimreaper May 21, 2010

    See, they have it all wrong. They should be trying to not need any federal money at all. Federal money awarded for just making a minimum standard. What good is that? That entails no real progress of the State's education system. So nice to know that our education system is based on just making the minimum standard. Real life work simply does not work that way...unless you want to be unemployed.

  • artist May 21, 2010

    ""This bill will give local school districts new ammunition in the fight to ensure that every child, no matter where he or she lives, has access to a quality education. "

    Well now... there goes the busing argument, heh NAACP?

  • mep May 20, 2010

    This problem has been going on for decades! And NOW they have the ammo necessary? How much is this going to cost us?