The state budget that Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law earlier this month includes a provision requiring the State Board of Education to authorize two online charter schools to serve K-12 students by next fall.
In drafting the budget provision for the virtual charter schools, lawmakers ignored many of the education board's recommendations. For example, lawmakers allowed the online schools to receive both state and local funding for students, while regular charter schools receive only state money. State law also lets the online schools enroll more students and have more students drop out than educators wanted.
Bolding mine. When your pet project (K12 Inc) has so many shortcomings and faults it can't meet even the minimum standards of being authorized, what do you do? You either lower the standards or you force the authorizing body to acquiesce via government fiat. Adding to the ever-growing list of behaviors exhibited by our General Assembly that closely resemble that of Third-World tyrants.
The legislature in the newly insane state of North Carolina had the brilliant idea of shoveling public money into private schools. Perhaps in an attempt to keep James Madison from spinning at 300 rpm, a state superior court judge named Thomas Hobgood went upside the legislature's melon in a big way.
You will be shocked, I know, that the fine hand of ALEC was behind this turkey, and that Thom Tillis, the current Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who has moved into a small lead over Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, thinks the program was just a swell idea. And you will also be shocked, I know, to learn that the judge concluded that education "reform" legislation was essentially based on a scam. The grift goes on. I'm sure, somehow, this is the fault of the teachers' unions.
Okay, it's "Robert" Hobgood, and North Carolina doesn't have a teacher's union, it's an association. But other than those things, I second your "insane turkey" observations.
(H) Transportation Funding
391 (1) The state department of education shall disburse state transportation funding to an
392 authorizer for each of its public charter school students on the same basis and in the same
393 manner as it is paid to school districts. An authorizer shall disburse state transportation
394 funding to a public charter school in proportion to the amount generated by the school’s
396 (2) A public charter school may enter into a contract with a school district or private provider
397 to provide transportation to the school’s students.
Bolding mine. There's nothing in the language of this (or any other) cookie cutter model legislation requiring charters to actually provide transportation in lieu of said transportation funding, and North Carolina currently doesn't require charters to provide transportation for students:
But here’s another happy charter story. The president pro tem of the State Senate is Phil Berger Sr., who is responsible for legislation authorizing charters, vouchers, and the virulent anti-teacher legislation that is causing many veteran teachers to leave the state. You might call him North Carolina’s one-man wrecking crew of public education, except he has plenty of helpers in the legislature.
So who do you think is opening charters and getting in on the ground floor of the biggest new education industry opportunity in North Carolina? Phil Berger, Jr. No conflict there. Daddy passes the law, and junior cashes in.
But they don't see a conflict, because "ethics" is not in their dictionary. And of course the propaganda mill known as the John Locke Foundation is neck-deep in this story:
The latest bad idea coming from Jeter and Lewis, is preposterous, and represents nothing less than a slap in the face to the taxpayers of North Carolina. Jeter’s clumsy idea is to block the public reporting of charter school salaries by name. He introduced the bill. Lewis defends it by saying allowing the release of the information creates a “hostile work environment.”
Clearly, Jeter heard from some charter school folks who wanted a favor because they desired to keep salaries hidden to some degree (they’re still public, but not with names attached) and so he just moved ahead. But in March, when the Charlotte Observer requested names and salaries from 23 charter schools, Jeter was fine with it, saying, “You can’t pick and choose when it’s convenient. If they want to play in that arena they need to play by public law.”
Apparently you can pick and choose when it's convenient. As far as that "hostile work environment," if charters want to pay their teachers a low salary while throwing good money at somebody's nephew who never enters a classroom to teach, I guess that might get a little hostile. Another term for that is "quality control."
Berger, who also addressed rally participants, said later he believes the "right thing for us to do would be to find the money."
"I look forward to us having the opportunity and the capacity this year for every child who is signed up for the lottery this year having the opportunity to go to the school of their choice," he said at the event. "And so we will work on that."
Tillis is also open to the idea of providing the scholarships to everyone. "This is about giving parents an opportunity to put their child in a setting that helps ensure that they realize their hopes and dreams," Tillis said.
"Find" the money? Oh, you've got the money, which you ripped away from the well-established and highly successful Smart Start Pre-K program:
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.
A state screening board’s recent decision to reject most charter school applications has sparked tension over the role private management companies should play in public education. “The plan was to have operators come into the state like they did in Louisiana and other states and quickly affect the public school choice landscape for the better and in quantity,” said Hawkes, a founding board member of two Guilford County charter schools run by the for-profit National Heritage Academies.
Hawkes says “mom and pop operations” like Sugar Creek can’t force change fast enough. He argues that national chains are needed to make school districts “feel threatened and up their game,” leading to better schools for all students.
That might have been "the plan" of hardcore privatization extremists, but I can guarantee it wasn't the plan of the majority of the voting public. Which is why Berger and Tillman have remained silent on this issue. But thanks for the heads-up, it makes our choice much clearer.
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