It was SRO today at the Senate Ed Committee meeting, and as my momma used to say, Sen Jerry Tillman was full of piss and vinegar! He paced the front of the room as the chair called the meeting to order and seemed disgruntled to see so many people packed into his meeting room.
He angrily told the head of the charter school application committee that if he did not see charter school applications getting approved as fast as he wants them approved, then he would pass the bill (SB 793) he has waiting in the wings. His tone suggested he would then shove the changes he wants to see down the committee's collective throats. He was especially upset that some out-of-state, for-profit charter management companies had their applications denied here in NC---he commented that if they had been approved to do business in other states, they were good enough to do business in NC. (Does our insurance commissioner know that?)
(He later reversed himself on that issue, by saying that the Common Core wasn't good enough for NC even though it has been accepted by numerous other states and adopted by DOD schools…. I doubt he could see the inconsistency in that.)
The director of the charter school office advised the senator they had created a new process that allowed for each charter applicant to be given feed-back on their application and time to make appropriate changes at more than one stage in the application process.
Tillman said he had been in contact with those who had not been approved and that if an applicant has a strong financial background, strong board, a location for the school and the management company has been approved in another state, well then, he "wants that corrected." He said he can smell something in Denmark and he doesn't like it. He wants the 'mindset' to change on the charter approval board.The 'mindset' of the board was mentioned several times. He wants charters approved rather than disapproved and said the process for approval was 'a mess.'
No one asked if the senator had a suggestion for how many charters a year should be approved or if there should be any kind of limit on the expansion of charter schools. For the meantime, the senator will hold onto his bill until an unspecified time.
Later in the meeting, the topic changed to the Common Core. A bill that would establish an academic standards commission who will investigate all the possible ed standards and, in less than a year, advise the Department of Public Instruction which group of standards was the best. He believes the idea of the Common Core is a worthy one, but North Carolina can do a better job of making up our own. We should not farm that out to some out of state conglomerate.
Sen Woodard said to Sen Tillman, if the committee is free to recommend some, or all, of the Common Core standards to the DPI, what if they just recommended the Common Core itself? Sen Tillman's reply, "That won't happen."
Sen Tillman was asked that if he intended usage of the Common Core to cease immediately, what standards of education would be used in our schools when they open in August? He replied, the old standards we had before Common Core implementation was begun. There was a bit of silence at that.
Stay tuned, folks, more confusion is coming to a school near you.