NC charter schools

More on the lack of transparency in NC charter schools

Taxpayers don't have a "need to know" on administrators' salaries:

“Charter staff are not employed by a public school board but by a private nonprofit board and, as a result, their salaries are not subject to public records law the way public school board employees’ or state employees’ salaries are,” said DPI spokeswoman Vanessa Jeter.

Cohen, N.C. Press Association lawyer Amanda Martin and CMS attorney George Battle III say she’s got it backward: There’s no legal protection for any information in the files. “It’s the privacy act. It’s not the publicity act,” Cohen said. “If they’re subject to the public records law, then nothing is private.”

It will be interesting to see if the Legislature clarifies this in the upcoming Short Session, as there seems to be a consensus from both sides of the aisle these salaries should be made public. That said, you have to question the relevance and integrity of an oversight Board that is so conflicted:

Sunshine Week spotlight: NC charter schools lag in compliance

Once the public money flows, so should the information:

Charter school boards, unlike their school-district counterparts, are not elected. They begin as self-selected groups of like-minded people with a vision for a school. First they must form a nonprofit group to apply for the charter; during the planning stage – which often takes more than a year – they are not public bodies.

That changes when the N.C. Board of Education awards a charter, which entitles the board to get state, local and federal money for education. With that money comes public obligations, from holding open meetings to reporting academic data.

Old habits die hard, which is why these boards should operate as transparently as possible, even before the taxpayer dollars kick in. Getting feedback from parents and other members of the public during the planning stage could be crucial in the survivability of the school itself; an "idea" only becomes a "good idea" after it's been picked apart and put back together again. Those who would shield their ideas from exposure are merely exposing their lack of confidence. And their lack of skills, too:

Mismanagement threatens future of Charlotte charter school

The invisible hand picks the taxpayers' pocket:

In documents filed in court and with the state charter school office, Mack, vice chair Jennifer Winstel and consultants hired by the StudentFirst board say Handford overstaffed the school, put family members on the payroll, failed to pay bills and document expenses, arranged big raises for herself and Moss, and let the school fall into academic disarray.

“Once operations were underway, we met monthly and received glowing reports from the school’s leaders – reports that we would later discover were mischaracterizations at best and outright fabrications at worst,” Mack wrote in his Feb. 19 response to Medley.

The court case is shaping up to be a big hot mess, but there's no doubt the financial stability of the school is in jeopardy. And the way the Legislature has designed oversight for these entities, taxpayers have very little control over how their money is spent.

Virtual charter school K12 still wants NC taxpayer dollars

Something that would be extremely unwise for us to allow:

As the nation’s largest online education company, K12, Inc. runs publicly-funded charter schools in 33 states, a robust business that accounts for 86 percent of the $848 million in revenue the company reported earnings to investors in its 2013 annual report. But with financial success has come criticism for lackluster student performance at several of its schools, including graduation rates of just 22 percent in Colorado and a Florida investigation that found a handful of teachers taught some classes they weren’t certified in.

Reports of poor performance have continued to plague the company, with the Lawrence, Kan. school district cancelling a contract with the company this month after the virtual high school posted a graduation rate of just 26 percent. The other two high schools in the district graduated more than 90 percent of its students.

But what K12 is lacking in capability and effectiveness is more than made up by their skills at manipulating the political process:

Skip Stam charter school madness: throw the rulebook out the window

Because apparently children are safer and more productive in a no-rules environment:

Charter schools are public schools. They do not charge tuition. They are completely funded by the government. They cannot teach religious doctrine. But they have huge advantages over traditional public schools. They are freed from most, but not all, state-imposed rules that strangle the creativity of schools and teachers.

It would take this entire page to list all the stifling rules charters do not have to follow.

Okay, maybe you can list ten of those "stifling" rules, so parents can get an idea of what not to expect from the school they send their children to. Five? One? Or maybe you don't want to go into detail, because you know most of those creativity-strangling rules were put in place to protect children from idiotic nonsensical demagogues like yourself.

Fleecing the taxpayers: NC charter schools on steroids

If it fails miserably somewhere else, you can bet it's headed to North Carolina:

The ASPIRA Association, a charter school operator at the heart of controversies in Chicago and Philadelphia, has filed three letters of intent to open charter schools in Mecklenberg, Union, and Iredell counties. In Chicago, ASPIRA has run into allegations of financial corruption and misconduct at its charter schools. Last year, the CEO of ASPIRA Illinois, Jose Rodriguez, was fired by the charter operator’s board.

And in troubled Philadelphia, ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania owes more than $3 million to four charter schools it runs, according to the Philadelphia City Paper. That money, according to school district officials, is taxpayer funds intended to fulfill the purposes of the charters.

But we don't need no stinking local school boards meddling in charter school business! Let the free market manage them! Idiots.

Massive invasion of charter schools coming in 2015

Instead of just one bandwagon it's becoming a wagon train:

As many as 170 new charter schools could open in North Carolina in 2015, including 39 in the Triangle and 43 in Mecklenburg County.

Charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow. They are also independent of the school districts in which they’re located.

They may be "independent" of local school districts, but that doesn't mean they won't be draining resources from local taxpayers, and other traditional public schools they are competing with.

The Baptism of NC charter schools

Washing away your sins with taxpayer dollars:

Out of 70 applicants, the recently-disbanded Public Charter School Advisory Council recommended 26 schools. Thursday, the State Board voted to also add for consideration six applicants who were interviewed but not recommended for approval by the council. One school being considered is Providence Charter High School in Rockingham County, applied for by Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr., the son of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.

Apparently the Bergermeister's son wants to be a schoolmeister. Proving once again that being a lawyer opens a lot of doors, and some that should probably remain shut. More about the school:

Are charter schools the mercenaries in GOP war on public schools?

Great write-up over at NC Policywatch:

Arapahoe Charter School currently serves students in grades K-9, but director Tom McCarthy wants his school to serve students through the 12th grade, even though the local school district presented a report to the State Board of Education detailing how Arapahoe’s expansion would destroy their lone public high school. Glazier also pointed to the fact that the bill undermines the State Board of Education’s ability to deal with cases in which a charter school’s expansion would negatively impact a local school district. “Charter schools are not supposed to be in conflict with public schools, they are supposed to be a part of public schools,” said Glazier.

Supposition is the result of people concealing their true intent with misleading language. You seldom get what you pay for when that happens, and sometimes you get the exact opposite:

Public property giveaway: NC charter schools to enjoy one dollar leases

What was that Republicans were saying about the Dix deal?

A state Senate committee on Wednesday discussed legislation that would make charter schools more aggressive competitors for students and the taxpayer money that follows them. The measure would cancel the current requirement that at least half a charter school's teachers be certified. Charter school directors could decide whether to check job applicants for any criminal history. Local school boards would be required to lease available buildings or land to a charter school for $1 a year.

The hypocrisy is mind-boggling. It's bad enough to siphon off taxpayer dollars to subsidize schools that don't even require certified and vetted teachers, but to force local governments to give them real property, which the local school board will have no jurisdiction over, is tantamount to theft on a massive scale. Adam Smith would not approve, I'm fairly certain.

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