More Charter Schools Recommended
Special Report - January 9, 2008
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Charter Schools has formally issued a report to the State Board of Education (SBOE) recommending more charter schools in North Carolina. SBOE chairman Howard Lee, however, says not to expect the Board to seek any changes to the charter school laws until the 2009 Legislative Session, after the Board has had a chance to fully review and deliberate the Commission’s report.
Dr. Mike Fedewa, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission, presented the report to the North Carolina General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on January 9. Among its 11 recommendations, the Commission has asked the State Board of Education to:
Seek a change in the law to “increase the charter school cap by 6 schools per year and to exclude from counting toward the cap high performing charter schools and the first charter school in a county that currently does not have one.”
Allow the League of Charter Schools (and not the SBOE) to take responsibility for cultivating quality charter school applications.
Develop “a more diagnostic process of oversight to enable timely response to poor-performing schools” including a policy allowing a charter school with low growth and low performance one year to demonstrate improvement or be closed.
Seek a change in the law to remedy a contradiction that requires charter schools to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the local district while at the same time utilizing a lottery approach for school enrollment that “cannot specify for a particular racial or ethnic group.”
Maintain the current method of facility funding for charter schools (in which the charter is fully responsible for its own capital needs) but allowing charter schools to receive funds from the state lottery.
In addition to these recommendations, the Commission’s report highlights the fact that approximately two percent of North Carolina’s total public school enrollment in the first month of the 2007-08 school yearor 32,398 studentsattended charter schools. The report also notes that in an analysis of public school performance, charter schools are over-represented among the best-performing public schools in the state as well as the worst-performing. Overall, during the 2005-06 school year, 50 percent of charter schools scored at or below median performance for public schools and 50 percent performed above the median.
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