House give key approval to charter school reforms

Posted April 7, 2011

— A bill to expand the number of charter schools in North Carolina passed a critical vote in the state House on Thursday after Republicans used a procedural move to cut off a fierce debate.

After the House Finance Committee passed Senate Bill 8 Thursday morning, the measure was put on the calendar for a full vote in the afternoon.

The bill, which faces a final vote in the House next Monday, would remove the cap of 100 charter schools statewide. The limit was set 15 years ago when charter schools were first allowed in North Carolina.

The bill would also do the following:

  • Require schools to offer transportation to low-income students living within 3 miles of the charter and  to have a plan for food services for students who would qualify for free or reduced-price meals at traditional schools
  • Put the new commission governing charter schools under the State Board of Education's authority
  • Let charter schools be eligible for more local funding, including lottery construction money
  • Allow the establishment of "virtual charters" - online schools - as long as they have a "physical presence" in the state
  • Raise enrollment growth caps for existing schools from 10 percent per year to 20 percent

Democrats argued that the bill be limited to removing the cap, expressing concerns about charter governance and standards, transportation and lunches for low-income students and money problems for local boards who could find themselves facing a dozen or more new charters seeking to share education funds.

North Carolina's 99 current charter schools instruct more than 41,000 of the state's nearly 1.5 million public school students. They operate with about $200 million in state funds, plus supplemental local taxes and federal funds mostly used for poor or disabled children.

Since the first charter school took in students in 1996, 132 have opened, and 33 closed for low enrollment or academic or financial failings.


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  • fatchanceimwrong Apr 8, 2011

    "House give key approval.."

    That should be "gives".

    Public school education, huh?

  • goncampn2 Apr 8, 2011

    Charter schools ROCK!! But I fail to see why they have to feed the children. Again it is the responsibility of the parents if they can not provide basic food,shelter and clothing they do not deserve to have children and should not have children. I also do not support the fact they have to provide busing with in a 3 mile area. What happened to walking and bicycling?? Ever wonder why our children are fat slugs?? Busing and food programs!!

  • bill0 Apr 8, 2011

    There is no good reason to cap the number of charter schools. The real issue should be of accountability for anyone who wants to open a charter school. You get an incredible amount of freedom to try new things without the state interfering. If those new ideas don't translate to improved student achievement, then the school should lose it's charter.

    For that to work though, supporters of charter schools need to drop the claim that "All charters are better than public schools." Some are and some aren't. It doesn't do the children or charter school movement any good to defend failing charters.

  • ChrisTK Apr 7, 2011

    My comment may not be the most politically correct but as mother of a 5 years old I have witnessed first hand the headache of school assignments. By base school was a school of excellence until 2005 at which point a reassignment took place and the school’s performance dropped drastically. The teachers did not change, the building did not change, only the student body. I went to 5 magnet orientations, 3 charter orientations and they were packed with eager parents. I saw only a handful of minority parents at those events. We all have this same chance to get to those schools regardless of race or money. You just need to show up. Get your child into the lottery. From my conversation with a few people they told me about transportation issues and loss of job but the attitude they had was “we will do whatever it takes to get our child in a good school”. Take a buss to work, car pool, rent an apartment near your target school, if there is a will there is a way! The problem with people ab

  • Plenty Coups Apr 7, 2011

    "It seems they work because of how they demand excellence, as "mustainemad" mentioned, of both kids and parents."

    Some Charter schools work, some don't. Usually depends on their population. KInd of like public schools. When you have parents that care, the kids tend to do well no matter the school.

  • Surrey Hills Apr 7, 2011

    Someone please tell me what "ket approval" and "charger schools" are.

    I think it is an example of a WCPS education.

  • kellyohare9 Apr 7, 2011

    If our ultimate goal is to improve our national academic success charter schools are not the answer. I have no problems with them nor do I have any problems with parents who choose to send their children to them, as they do appear to be the better option right now. It seems they work because of how they demand excellence, as "mustainemad" mentioned, of both kids and parents. I would like to add onto this though, that the third component needs to be a high expectation of teachers. I am in no way blaming teachers for public school failures, but simply pointing out that all three need to be present. I wish I could offer a solution to give this same foundation to our public schools but it proves to be a complex issue. The only suggestion, though naive, I would make is to look at our "children" as those belonging to all of us. Surely we have the deepest love for our own children, but today's youth must be a community concern, without racial, religious, or socio-economic bias.

  • mustainemad Apr 7, 2011

    This is the underlying issue--"public" schools means that you HAVE to take EVERYONE, good, bad, those who care about their kids, those who couldn't care less, kids who care, kids who couldn't care less, rich, poor, etc. If there could be changes made to the PUBLIC school system to allow more discipline, both for children AND PARENTS, public schools could also make improvements; but until someone stands up to the adult bullies in our society (those who demand favoritism or they will "sue", gimme, gimme, gimme), I don't know how the public school system, and our society in general, can improve.

  • fatchanceimwrong Apr 7, 2011

    The public school system, along with many parents, is failing the students and society. We're falling further behind other countries.

    Charter schools are a way to improve education where public schools have failed.

    The result will be that responsible parents of kids who want to learn will continue to migrate toward charter schools and homeschooling, leaving the public schools with a high percentage of minorities, kids from low-income/welfare dependent moms and under-achievers.

    This will guaranty that the NAACP has an agenda for many years to come. It'll be ugly, but we can't continue on the same course that is dragging us down.

  • mep Apr 7, 2011

    Yes.... More CHOICES.... beyond the failing govt run monopoly called "public education". It is true that charter schools are still considered public, but some offer different learning opportunities. One day, parents everywhere will have the freedom to choose where their money is spent on education, and which schools their children can attend. Until then, we either pay twice or tolerate mediocre standards and graduation rates of the public system.