Lieutenant governor: Charter schools report uses correct data but lacks context

Posted January 11, 2016 5:00 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2016 6:40 p.m. EST

— Nearly one week after calling a draft of the state's annual charter schools report too "negative," Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told WRAL News on Monday that "there's nothing wrong with any of the facts and statistics (in the report), but I believe some of the data needs to be qualified."

Forest said "information needs to be added" to the report "to make sure we're really painting the correct picture of charter school education in North Carolina to the General Assembly."

The State Board of Education was supposed to vote on the charter schools report last week and send it to the legislature by this Friday. But Forest, who sits on the board, asked that the vote be delayed until February so the state's Charter Schools Advisory Board could review the report at its meeting Tuesday.

"The statistics data was negative. It did not have a lot of positive things to say," Forest told board members, who agreed to delay their vote. "Once we put those reports out, that’s the fuel that the media uses to criticize what we’re doing."

The report found, among other things, that "the overall charter schools student population is more white and less Hispanic than the overall traditional school population." It also found that charter schools serve fewer poor students than traditional schools.

Forest took to Twitter Monday to slam the media for failing to report that the state's charter schools have a greater percentage of Asian and Pacific Islander students than traditional schools. He also found fault with the report for leaving out positive news about charter schools, including "that 3 of the top 5 public schools in NC are charters," he wrote, citing U.S. News & World Report.

"(The) Charter School report only reported faults of charters, not benefits. Why not report the good and the bad?" Forest wrote on Twitter.

Adam Levinson, interim director of the state Office of Charter Schools, which compiled the report, said it is intended to be objective.

"I would call it a vanilla report that is providing statistics," he said. "It's not intended to be editorial one way or the other."

The state's Charter Schools Advisory Board is expected to discuss the report at its meeting Tuesday at 8:35 a.m.