Charter schools

Shining Rock Classical Academy update

Weekly update from Waynesville's excellent Smoky Mountain News on the trials and tribulations of the startup Shining Rock Classical Academy in Haywood County.

First, publisher Scott McLeod explains in plain language for readers the letter and intent of the state's public meetings law, and its application to charter school governing boards. Scott's headline says it all: "The public - not the newspaper - needs to know."

NC's Opportunity Deficit Only Getting Worse

I noted Rob Christensen’s article in Sunday’s N&O and his point that North Carolina’s unemployment rate has gone up for 4 straight months and yet the NC Senate wants to cut funding for 8,400 teachers assistants.

That unemployment rate is going to go up, not down. Explain this to our GOP electeds? Even if we chose the least confrontational manner possible to point out that in 59 of our 100 counties the public school system is the county’s largest employer, it would not change the minds and votes of our GOP leadership.

Why? Because they no longer consider the people of North Carolina as their constituents. They don’t feel they need to answer to us. They don’t feel a need to even explain themselves. They are following the governing model of cheap labor conservatives and they will force that into place in our state no matter how many of our people are hurt by it. They don’t answer to us anymore.

More Charter School Woes

From the Smoky Mountain News today: problems with the startup of Shining Rock Academy in Haywood County.

The school is scheduled to open in a couple of weeks. There were problems getting permits and construction started on time for land just north of the Waynesville city limits. As a result, the school is leasing space from the Lake Junaluska Assembly so they can begin operations. During the earlier land purchase, apparently the school's governing board failed to comply with the state's open meetings law, according to reporting in the SMN.

Another Step Towards School Privatization

Thanks to Lindsay Wagner at NC Policy Watch, I can call your attention to this news in education. Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg) has gutted SB 95 and replaced it with language that will take low performing NC elementary schools, put them into a special Achievement School District (ASD) and turn them over to for-profit charter management companies. The plan is to start with the 5 lowest performing elementary schools, but if this is enacted, I fully expect to see it regularly expanded until all of North Carolina’s traditional public schools have been privatized.

Deception seals the fate of special needs charter school

The straw that broke the innovating camel's back:

The Department of Public Instruction hand-delivered a letter today to Dynamic Community Charter school officials stating its intention to revoke the school’s charter. Some of the concerns raised by the interviews include: •Instruction that was not designed specifically for the school population •Students put in or left in unsafe situations •Lack of health care plans for students •Teacher assistants serving in inappropriate capacities •Administration given “scripts” on how to interact with DPI staff “to divert attention from the true practices that were actually occurring;”

In addition, the letter states that “…the investigation revealed a number of instances in which leadership at the school has been untruthful in their dealing with the Department…”

I will forego my usual lecture about how obvious attempts at deception call into question everything you say, even if 90% of it is truthful, leaving you with no reasonable ground to stand on (I guess the lecture didn't want to be stifled). But the worst part of this situation has to do with the students themselves: Will they be better off (safer) without the school? Did the mismanagement rob them (even more than they've already been robbed) of a brighter future? Will this failure scare away others who might have dedicated special schools for these kids? Not much to be happy about in this story.

Charters have Privileges Public Schools are Not Allowed

SB 480 has passed the crossover deadline and will head to the House. If passed there, it will make it illegal for any employee of a local board of education to politic while on the clock. Teachers, principals, teacher's aides will not be able to send home info on bond referendum or any legislation affecting schools.

However, charter schools are free to do so. Charter schools can use school facilities and time to call for support for legislation. And I have seen kids who receive vouchers actually lobbying at the Legislative Building. The following has gone out from Voyager Academy to its parents. Sauce for the goose is no longer sauce for the gander.

NC charter schools: All your dollar$ are ours

Even your bake sales and booster bucks:

Senate Bill 456 would force school districts to share all local tax revenue proportionally by striking the ad valorem exception. Sponsor Sen. Jerry Tillman R-Randolph, said the bill "puts the funding back where the courts say it should be."

However, the bill also strikes the law's exceptions for "sales tax refunds, gifts and grants restricted as to use, and trust funds." That means donations, from school PTA fundraising dollars to booster revenues for bands or sports teams, would all go into the shared pot unless the school district sets up a separate account for those dollars and unless donors specify that their contribution is for that particular account.

I'm sure Conservative band boosters and other alums will somehow perceive this as "the damn government" meddling in school affairs, which later will coalesce into "the damn Democrats" did it, since they can't grasp the idea of their intrepid Republican heroes pulling stunts like this. And if/when they do see something negative about the GOP on the news, the filters kick in to defend them from "that damn Liberal media." SMFH.

GOP siphons more money away from low-income schools

In support of their unwise privatization efforts:

The White House on Friday issued a report that said a House Republican plan to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would reduce North Carolina’s federal Title I money for disadvantaged students by an estimated $17 million in 2016 and $220 million over the next five years.

Currently Title I funds are concentrated in schools with large numbers of poor students. The House bill would allow this grant money to follow each low-income child to the traditional or charter public school of the parent’s choice.

The emergence of this legislation during a time when many new charter schools are failing due to fiscal mismanagement is no coincidence. The people behind the curtain in this movement are well aware their "efficiency" leaves something to be desired, so they've been scheming to find various flows of public monies to tap into. And in case you were wondering, yes, this is an ALEC initiative:

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