School Choice Week Events
Special Report - January 24, 2011
“School Choice Week” kicked off yesterday across the nationjust three days before the North Carolina General Assembly convenes the 2011 legislative session, where lifting the charter school cap is part of the incoming Republican leadership’s agenda. Thousands of school choice supporters are expected to participate in “School Choice Week,” which is scheduled for January 23-29, and is described as a “collaborative effort of more than 150 school choice organizations” that organizers hope will be “the loudest, largest and broadest clarion call for school choice in American history.” According to the “School Choice Week” website, participants will engage in a variety of events this week that are aimed at promoting “public awareness about any and all forms of educational choice, including public charter schools, magnet schools, virtual education, homeschooling, tax credit scholarships, and opportunity scholarships.”
“School Choice Week” events planned in North Carolina include the following:
- Monday, January 24, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) will host a “No Longer ‘Waiting for Superman’” Town Hall Forum at 6:30 PM at 3415 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.
- On Thursday, January 27, Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the John W. Pope Civitas Institute will present “A Celebration of School Choice and Freedom” at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at 6:00 PM.
For more information and to register for these events, visit the www.schoolchoiceweek.com website.
In related news, North Carolina’s charter school law has once again scored poorly in a January 2011 report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS). The report, “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws,” compares the charter school laws in 41 states (as of 2010) to 20 key components found in the NAPCS’s “model” charter school law. Those components include no cap on the number of charter schools allowed to operate in a state at one time, variety in the types of charter schools allowed, and “equitable access to Capital funding and facilities.” North Carolina’s charter school law, which was enacted in 1995, was ranked 32 out of 41 state charter school laws, earning a total score of 76 out of a possible 208 points, down from a score of 78 in the previous report from 2009.
The report explains that the U.S. Department of Education’s “Race to the Top” funding competition resulted in 14 states lifting their charter school caps, and one state (Mississippi) enacting a new charter school law, although the NAPCS ranked Mississippi’s law number 41, and describes it as the “worst charter school law in the country.” These states made the report’s “Top 10” list of laws that most closely resemble the NAPCS’s model charter school law in the following order: Minnesota, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California, Georgia, District of Columbia, Louisiana, and Utah.
As in previous years, North Carolina, along with eight other states, made the list of states that the report characterizes as “laggards in charter growth and choice policies.” The report notes that in 2010, “North Carolina took a step backwards… by passing legislation that allows school districts to further increase funding inequities between charter schools and school districts.” According to the NAPCS, North Carolina’s charter school law “needs significant work, starting with the lifting the state’s restrictive cap,” which only allows 100 charter schools to operate in the state at one time. The report continues, “It also needs to improve 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.”
School choice advocates in North Carolina are hopeful that 2011 will be the year for charter school growth in the state. With Republicans now in the majority in the General Assembly, lawmakers are expected to introduce and pass legislation to remove the cap this year. In fact, eliminating the charter school cap is listed as number seven on the state GOP’s 10-point legislative agenda for the first 100 days.
Charter Regulations Score Poorly - December 2, 2010
Groups Say Lift Charter School Cap - January 22, 2010
Charter School Model Law Proposed - September 4, 2009
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