@NCCapitol

Charter school changes move forward

Posted February 23, 2011

— The state Senate is expected to hold a final vote Thursday on big changes to North Carolina’s charter school system.

Senate Bill 8 would remove the cap on the number of charters that can operate in the state. That limit is currently set at 100. It would also allow counties to use public money and lottery funds to help pay for charter school construction.

The measure would also set up a new commission to approve, oversee, and revoke charter school licenses. The commission would function independently of the State Board of Education, though the Board could overturn its decisions by a three-fourths vote.

The Senate tentatively approved the bill Wednesday by a 34-16 vote after an hour of heated debate along party lines.

Republican supporters say the changes would offer more options to more students who aren’t being served well in existing schools. And bill sponsor Senator Richard Stevens, R-Wake, says the funding changes will give charters a chance at a more equitable share of education spending than they currently get.

But Senate Democrats said the bill doesn’t do enough to make sure the new charters are equally accessible to all students. They argued the schools should be required to offer the same busing and subsidized food programs as traditional schools.

“If you allow people to set up charter schools that do not provide transportation, do not provide free lunch, you’re setting up barriers to poor children,” said Senator Doug Berger, D-Franklin.

Senate Education co-chairman Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, replied that no student is forced to go to a charter school. He said if charters don’t provide services low-income students need, “They can go to the public school and get the free lunch and the free transportation.”

Senator Charlie Dannelly, D-Mecklenburg, argued the bill would set up what amounts to a dual educational system.

“People have common sense,” Dannelly told the Senate. “If you don’t want to me to go someplace, you don’t offer me the choices that I need to get the education I need. No matter how you dress it up, we are eliminating those children from those charter schools.”

The implication angered Senate Republicans. “Charter schools are diverse,” Stevens argued, noting that the law would still require charters to “reasonably reflect” the racial and ethnic makeup of their local school district.

“We want all our children to succeed, not just a select few,” added Senator Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson. “If the right thing’s not being done, we’re here every year. We can change it.”

After its final Senate vote Thursday, the proposal will move on to the House, where it’s likely to be taken up in committee next week.

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  • mama k Feb 24, 2011

    Plenty Coups....I am speaking about the Charter Schools in Person County!! I don't know how it is in Wake County. Here there are kids of all different economical and cultural backgrounds enrolled!!

  • Plenty Coups Feb 24, 2011

    mamak-"As far as being economically advantaged....my children are enrolled in the charter schools and we are not economically advantaged whatsoever!!!!"

    Your comments are purely anecdotal. If you compare the entire populations of the successful charter schools such as Raleigh Charter High on a website such as the NC Schools Report Card, the data clearly shows that the succesful charter schools don't serve poor students to any degree. That's a pretty high indicator of student motivation and achievement. In fact, Raleigh Charter High has a statistically insignificant number of students at their school who are economically disadvantaged. In othe words, they don't have them. Students from this aspect of life tend to do very poorly. Other public schools have them in great numbers. (average about 25% of each schools population)

    Check it out for yourself:
    http://www.ncreportcards.org/src/servlet/srcICreatePDF?pSchCode=000&pLEACode=92K&pYear=2009-2010

  • North Carolina Home Feb 24, 2011

    """But Senate Democrats said the bill doesn’t do enough to make sure the new charters are equally accessible to all students. They argued the schools should be required to offer the same busing and subsidized food programs as traditional schools."""

    This is the best argument the Dems can come up with to oppose changes to Charter Schools???

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Feb 24, 2011

    vouchers are next!!!

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Feb 24, 2011

    GREAT! Now we parents will get to have the final say in how are kids are educated. No matter being held hostage by the Wake County public system. No more being dictated to and no more year round mess.

    Great job guys!! That does not include you Dems. It's your faults it's taken 100 years to lift the cap!!

  • mama k Feb 24, 2011

    And for all those complaining that their tax dollars are going to help pay for these school.....1st of all they don't get the funding the public schools get and 2nd my tax dollars go to help pay for your kids education in the public school system that my kids don't attend.....so what is the difference!!!

  • mama k Feb 24, 2011

    As far as being economically advantaged....my children are enrolled in the charter schools and we are not economically advantaged whatsoever!!!! As far as lunch my children take theirs. As far as transportation I take them, but our charter schools have buses that transport. As far as being held to higher standards on performance...you better believe they are. These schools are college prep schools and it shows in their curriculum. And YES my kids have been enrolled in the public school system and Charter schools are so much better....they have especially been for my children!!!!!

  • Plenty Coups Feb 24, 2011

    IndependentAmerican-
    "WHAT? So economically advantaged children are smarter? WRONG...every child has the same opportunities. Some just do not take advantage of them."

    You're right about students being no smarter but I think you miss the point. It's unfair to compare a school with affluent, motivated students w/ one that's full of poor, unmotivated students and say,"see, we're better" like many right wing people like to do. I agree, students should be allowed to go to neighborhood schools. You should have the freedom to pick where you live and send your children to school. But charter schools should play by the same rules as other public schools if they are to get public money. If charter schools don't need to provide transportation, have highly qualified teachers, and have little accountability etc., then it should be the same for all the public schools.

  • OGE Feb 24, 2011

    This is just fine that they are able to open more of these schools but there should be stricter guidelines on performance for them than on public schools. I mean the supporters are touting how much better Charters are so it should not be hard to prove it.

  • IndependentAmerican Feb 24, 2011

    'What I'm saying is, it's easy to out-perform a school if all you have is the economically-advantaged enrolled."

    WHAT? So economically advantaged children are smarter? WRONG...every child has the same opportunities. Some just do not take advantage of them.

    Isn't this the point of our current 'diversity' program? Move the economically disadvantaged (free/reduced lunch participants) around so they get a better education? This implies that a school with a majority of these students is inherently lower in IQ and education potential that those in a more economically advantaged area. Absolutely not true! Neighborhood schools, while not a sure thing, will provide an increased possibility of parental involvment.
    Bussing was necessary 40 years ago. If it's still necessary, then that program has failed; time to try something else.

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