Charter schools unfairly held to higher standard, some say

Posted May 6, 2010 7:11 a.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2010 7:53 a.m. EDT

— A new state policy that went into effect this year says charter schools must have at least 60 percent of students passing state standardized tests and meeting expected growth.

Schools that don’t meet the criteria two out of the next three years will be closed. Some charter school leaders said they think their programs are being unfairly targeted.

“It does not apply to traditional public schools,” said Carroll Reed, director of Southern Wake Academy.

North Carolina is home to 96 charter schools. Six did not meet the 60 percent threshold last year, including Southern Wake Academy.

Traditional schools get additional resources and funding from the state. Charter schools get state and county per pupil allotment dollars but have to pay for their own buildings.

“The charter schools are given a higher standard and a different standard over the traditional schools,” Reed said.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison says a different standard is fair because charter schools are different from other public schools.

“That’s not a high standard at all,” he said. “They’re freed from some of our rules and regulations and policies. They’re autonomous, and in return for that autonomy, there needs to be results.”

If the State Board of Education implemented the policy three years ago and applied it to all public schools, the John Locke Foundation says 164 schools would face closure.