Charter schools

NC Senate bill would shift more funding to charter schools

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The school privatization train picks up speed:

The battle in question concerns how local funding is shared between traditional public schools and charter schools. SB 658 would require traditional school districts to send more of their local funds to charter schools.

This bill is misguided because charter schools already receive more local funding than traditional public schools, and the gap is growing. A NC Justice Center report published in September showed that, controlling for student residence, the local spending in charter schools in fiscal year 14-15 exceeded the local per pupil spending in traditional schools by $142 per student. That gap has increased in fiscal year 15-16, with charter schools now exceeding local spending of traditional schools by $212 per student. SB 658 would only exacerbate these funding discrepancies.

We're heading into a public school crisis with the unfunded mandate on class sizes, which has already cost educators several dozen jobs. Instead of fixing that problem (which they created), they're trying to take away even more money from traditional public schools. The word "irresponsible" falls way too short in describing their actions, but they just keep chugging along.

Vinroot uses faulty data when promoting diversity of charter schools

Masking the reality of state-sponsored segregation:

“I am very much concerned,” says state Rep. Rosa Gill, a Wake County Democrat and former high school math teacher who sits on the N.C. House of Representatives’ education committee. “I think when our legislators have false information, we come up with legislation that is not in the best interest of kids.”

To make his points, Vinroot relies on free or reduced lunch data in charters. By most estimations, that’s not a fair assessment, experts say, pointing out less than a third of the state’s charters participate in that program.

But I'm sure the public school haters in the General Assembly will eat it up with gusto.

Behind closed doors: No press allowed at Michelle Rhee's education gathering

Get ready for more charter/private school legislation this session:

Some North Carolina public education activists are crying foul over a private legislative meet state lawmakers are scheduled to attend with controversial school reformer Michelle Rhee next month.

This week, Policy Watch requested access to next month’s event, but BEST N.C. President & CEO Brenda Berg said no members of the media will be granted access. Berg said such a rule will allow “candid” conversations between participants, which includes an unspecified number of state lawmakers and school stakeholders.

Stating the obvious: If such conversations can only be "candid" if the public is kept in the dark, then maybe those conversations *are* the problem, not the solution these people are looking for. And if you want to see what can happen when those lines are blurred, let's travel to the West Coast and take a look at Sacramento:

Blatant hypocrisy emerges in charter school scandal

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Oversight? We don't need no stinking oversight:

But when it comes to the Republicans’ pet education issues – increasing the number of charter schools and expanding the use of vouchers for private schools – the accountability demands ease. The lack of oversight has now shown up in a Durham charter K-12 school that awarded 53 diplomas in the last two years to students who lacked the credits necessary to graduate. That’s nearly a third of the school’s graduates since 2014 and the problem could go back further.

I find it extremely hard to believe administrators at this school couldn't keep up with a simple credit count. It's not quantum mechanics, for God's sake. Which means, there was an intentional effort to graduate unqualified students, and an apparently widespread problem in even providing enough classroom instruction to meet the criteria. What other shortcuts did they take? We likely won't find out, because Republicans seem intent on ignoring the problem:

Charter supporters throw temper tantrum over low approval numbers

And engage in a little name calling between tears:

Today, Alan Hawkes, a Greensboro charter leader who sits on the state’s Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB), is still hot. That’s because five schools tapped for opening by Hawkes’ board, which makes recommendations on charter applicants to the state board, were overwhelmingly voted down by the State Board of Education (SBE). Board members cited typos, weak applications and publicly questioned whether some schools’ academic plans were ready for prime time despite the CSAB’s support. Typically, state board members heed the counsel of the CSAB, but not this month.

“Don’t get me started about public charter school no-nothings (sic) on the NC State Board of Education,” Hawkes wrote in an email to Policy Watch this week. “The temerity and ignorance of those soulless SOB’s (sic) presuming to know better than the NC Charter School Advisory Board with its diversity of knowledge and experience in this area. If there is anyone who knows the good, the bad and the ugly about public school choice, it’s members of our NC CSAB.”

The plural form is "sons of bitches," so I'm thinking it should be "S'sOB"? Still doesn't look right...Anyway, if the people who are supposedly going to teach our children can neither write well nor proofread, maybe they should take up another hobby, like ATV riding without a helmet? Using a chainsaw to cut the wrong side of the limb they're sitting on? Something along those lines.

Charter pirates to be led by Dan Forest

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What could possibly go wrong?

Regardless of the warnings, the N.C. legislature mandated the State Board of Education to start the process that will seize five of the state’s lowest performing public schools and put their management under a newly-formed Achievement School District.

The Achievement Schools superintendent, who will be picked by a committee headed and selected by the lieutenant governor, will have a $400,000 start-up budget, significant authority and autonomy in choosing the five schools and designating the specific school operators – though the state board must ultimately approve the choices.

So, Lieutenant Dan gets to select the committee he will then lead, and they will select the Superintendent. Why even have a committee? If somebody disagrees with Forest, won't he be able to simply "select" their replacement? For all their talk about "government accountability," Republicans have a habit of doing the exact opposite.

When charter schools go horribly wrong

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They can leave your child struggling to catch up:

In spring 2014 with about a month left in the school year, StudentFirst was in debt by more than $600,000 and shut its doors, giving only a week’s notice. Rochelle scrambled to get her children into a public magnet school operated by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district.

A few weeks later at the new school, her eldest son, CJ, a third-grader, failed the end-of-year reading test—and Rochelle fully realized that StudentFirst’s shortcomings were not just financial, but academic as well. “It became clear that CJ had learned virtually nothing. He fell behind in all subject areas. He went to summer school after that to begin catching up.”

Achievement School District bill heads to McCrory

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State-sponsored piracy of public schools:

The House passed the Senate version of a bill Wednesday to create a five-school Achievement School District pilot program for schools that have shown consistently poor growth and performance.

A State Board of Education-appointed superintendent could choose charter companies with proven success to run the schools. The companies would have hiring and firing powers and would be exempt from oversight and evaluations from local school boards.

There are numerous faulty assumptions built into this bill, not the least of which is the idea that removing a critical oversight mechanism (local school boards) will somehow encourage performance. And considering these boards are comprised of locally-elected officials, it actually takes away parental control. But in the minds of Republicans, ideology trumps logic every time.

The Last Summer of Public Schools

This is it, folks, the last summer of public schools in North Carolina.

No, I don’t mean there’s no more summer school to come. I mean that if NCGA leadership is allowed to continue, unbridled, down their current path we won’t have public schools to kick around anymore. They won’t exist.

As Chris Fitzsimon put it:

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