Charter Schools Get The Rap
Special Report - February 5, 2010
If a new State Board of Education performance policy for charter schools were applied to all public schools in North Carolina, 155 traditional district schools, three alternative district schools, and six charter schools would be forced to close, according to a new report from the John Locke Foundation. The “Revocation of Charter for Lack of Academic Performance,” adopted by the North Carolina State Board of Education in December, calls for charter schools to be shut down “when, for two of three consecutive school years, the charter school does not meet or exceed expected growth and has a Performance Composite below 60 [percent],” beginning in the 2009-2010 school year. No similar policy exists for non-charter public schools.
Written by Terry Stoops, the report, “Zero Tolerance for Charter Schools: The State Board of Education should regard all public schools as equals,” asked, “How many public schools would close if the state instituted the policy three years ago and applied to charter and district schools alike?” After looking at test results for the last three years, the report found that “the State Board of Education would be forced to close 164 public schools.” Percentage-wise, 6.5 percent of the total district and district alternative schools, and 6.2 percent of the charter schools in the state would be forced to close. At least one school would be closed in 41 of the state’s 100 counties with 26 of those closing more than one school. Eighteen schools would close in Forsyth County, 14 in both Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Guilford, 11 in Cumberland, and 10 in Halifax.
Charter schools are public schools that “receive state, local, and federal funds,” but are not subject to all the same regulation and oversight of traditional district schools. According to the report, district schools that fail to meet established academic standards are not subject to closure like charter schools, but receive “additional resources and support” from the Department of Public Instruction. Stoops calls the policy “one of the most punitive policies ever approved by the State Board of Education.”
“Ideally, the state would base these decisions on an independent review of performance data and extensive input from school personnel, parents, and members of the community,” said Stoops. “This report’s only recommendation is that the State Board of Education regard all regular public schoolsdistrict, charter, and charter-like without chartersas equals. Substantive policies should apply to all of them or none of them.”
Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, added: "We have come more than full circle with charter schools in our state. When charter legislation was passed in 1996, it was touted as one of the best laws in the country. Now, due to our continuing cap of 100 schools and unrelenting pressure from the educrats who have never liked charters, we have a situation where a stake is being driven into the heart of the charter school movementthat is freedom from government regulation. This latest move by the State Board of Education demonstrates why charter schools should be removed from the oversight of that body and placed under a separate authority that would focus on helping charter schools to succeednot erect regulatory barriers to their success."
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