Groups Say Lift Charter School Cap
Special Report - January 22, 2010
At a press conference in Raleigh earlier this week, charter school advocates warned that the state’s 15 year-old charter school cap, which limits the number of charter schools allowed to operate at one time to 100, could make North Carolina less competitive for the federal government’s “Race to the Top” funds. Governor Beverly Purdue recently sent North Carolina’s application for the federal grant fundswhich are linked to innovation in education, such as the expansion of charter schoolsto the White House. The press conference was held on January 19 at the legislative building in Raleigh and featured leaders from the state’s two charter school advocacy groups, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, and the North Carolina Alliance for Public Charter Schools, as well as educators and lawmakers.
“We as leaders are very, very concerned,” PEFNC president, Darrell Allison said at the press conference. “In a state that has a cap on public charter schools approaching 15 years, we are concerned that we have not done enough.”
The groups referenced a new state-by-state review of charter school laws by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which ranked North Carolina’s law 32nd out of 40 state charter school laws. The National Alliance ranked states based on how well their charter school laws met 20 essential components of a model charter school law it developed last year. North Carolina was one of 13 states in the report to “fail to meet a key test of the Race to the Top guidelines because they continue to place restrictive caps on charter school growth.” The highest score a state law could receive in the report was 208 points, and North Carolina scored a total of 78 points.
The report concludes that North Carolina’s law “needs significant work, starting with lifting the state's restrictive cap. It also needs to beef up its requirements for charter application, review, and decision-making processes, charter school oversight, and renewal, non-renewal, and revocation processes and provide facilities support to charter schools.”
Todd Ziebarth, vice president for policy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, who also spoke at the Jan. 19 press conference, was a guest on the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s weekly radio program, “Family Policy Matters,” in October 2009. Mr. Ziebarth discussed the Alliance’s model law, and the shortcomings in North Carolina’s charter school law on that program. To listen to the interview with Mr. Ziebarth, which aired in two parts, go here.
“It is way past time to lift the arbitrary cap on the number of charter schools in North Carolina,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Our state’s dismal ranking in this latest report on charter school laws should be embarrassing to state leaders, particularly since the current administration has encouraged states to expand charter schools, and the weaknesses in our law could contribute to the state’s loss of important federal funds.”
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