Charter schools

NC taxpayers subsidize discrimination

In addition to keeping the salaries of for-profit charter school employees secret, the NCGA's charter school bill allows discrimination against LGBT students.

Back in June, after a two-day battle over amendments that would have banned charter schools from discriminating against students on the basis of sexual orientation, House Republicans advanced a compromise provision that said "charter schools shall not discriminate against any student with respect to any category protected under the United States Constitution or under federal law applicable to the states."

That amendment was added to the bill on a 115-0 vote.

But when the measure went to conference committee for a compromise deal, Senate negotiators successfully pushed to have the clause removed.

Rep. John [sic] Hardister, R-Guilford, the lead House negotiator, said he agreed to the change out of concern that "it could have broad effect." Asked for clarification, he couldn't explain further.

Charter school in Charlotte lets students down before it opens

What happens when a charter school fails students before the school opens? You wind up with a lot of upset parents and kids, especially when the school was intended to serve 9th and 10th graders. High school is tough enough without finding out six weeks before school begins that your plans have changed.

From the Charlotte Observer:

Carolina STEM Academy, one of 11 Charlotte-area charter schools that had been approved to open in August, notified families this week that there aren’t enough students to make that happen.

“Unfortunately, we are disappointed to share the news that, due to enrollment and continuing difficulties with closing (on the facility), Carolina STEM will be unable to open this year,” a letter from the board of directors said.

Even less charter school accountability

We know that charter schools take public funds, yet don't need to meet the same obligations or standards of accountability as public schools.

Recently the NCGA tried to remedy one little piece of that: the Senate passed, and the House was about to pass a bill that would require charter schools to disclose the same salary information as public schools. That is, charter schools that take public money would have to obey public records laws.

Makes a lot of sense, right? That's why, at the last minute, Rep. Charles Jeter introduced an amendment to block the disclosure of the names of the charter school employees.

Majority of approved charter schools not ready for upcoming school year

Racing to the starting line:

Nineteen of the 25 charter schools approved to open across North Carolina in August must do more to show state officials they have the students, classrooms and plans in place to pull it off, according to a report being presented to a state advisory panel Monday.

Charlotte was also home to the troubled StudentFirst Academy, which opened in August 2013 and closed in April. The state approved its charter despite noting shortcomings in the application. By November, the state was investigating reports of mismanagement and academic problems. Details about undocumented expenses, inflated administrator salaries, unpaid bills and middle school students napping during the school day emerged in later legal documents.

You know what they say: build it and they will come. And then they will take a nap.

Jerry Tillman's latest assault on public education

Charter schools are public schools, so say their supporters whenever someone says that the charters are robbing public schools of funding.

Charter schools are run by private nonprofit boards that are authorized by the state to receive public education money. They received $304.7 million from the state this year, a number that will grow as more charter schools open in August.

School districts, which have no control over charters, are required to pass along a share of county education money based on the number of students enrolled. Mecklenburg County taxpayers contributed $23 million to charter schools this year.

And so they are, technically. They're just like other public schools, except:

Charters will blossom in NC ... or else!

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?)

NC charter schools highlighted in report on fraud and waste

Via Salon, we have a link to a new report co-authored by the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education that examines the lack of oversight of charter schools. The report looked at just 15 states, pulling news stories, criminal complaints, audits, and other sources.

The report "found fraud, waste and abuse cases totaling over $100 million in losses to taxpayers" and noted that, due to lack of oversight, “the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.”

Three NC charter schools are highlighted in the report:

Former Bush admin official comes out against charter schools

In an interview with Bill Moyers, Dianne Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education for Bush and advocate for charter schools, has changed her mind.

Why? The push for charter schools is coming from political groups and commercial interests that don't have the best interests of your kids in mind.

There is a tremendous political force of very wealthy hedge-fund managers who are investing in the charter-school industry and seeing it grow. And so they have fought for these laws. There’s also a lot of charter school money going as political contributions to legislators in many of the states where the charters are booming.

Americans For the Prosperous tours charter schools

Apparently "choice" means choosing what definition of the word "choice" you use:

“We applaud Douglass Academy for giving all area students educational choices, options and opportunities they didn’t have before,” Paige Freeman, area field coordinator for Americans For Prosperity, told a small crowd. “Renovating and revitalizing this building is a gift to the downtown area…It is a true gift, especially to residents in the adjacent lower-income areas, and a true gift to the students.”

Unlike most charter schools, Douglass provides buses and lunches for the approximately 35 students enrolled there. Since charters do not receive state transportation or child nutrition funding, they are not required to offer either services. As guests toured the facility, the word “choice” echoed through the hallways.

Bolding mine. New Hanover County has some 40,000 children under the age of 18, meaning you would need over 1,000 "facilities" of this nature to accommodate all of them. Even just the 1st & 2nd Graders number in the thousands, so I really don't see how this 35 student school gives "all area students" an educational choice. But propaganda like that is what we've come to expect from AFP.

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