Republican attack on public schools

The next wave of charter school idiocy coming from ALEC

Opening the floodgates of taxpayer dollars:

(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
395 students.

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:

Republicans screw up charter school laws even more

Privatization going off the rails:

And when you're doing something really unwise, cutting off the debate is SOP:

Cronyism and nepotism driving the charter school bus

The invisible hand picking the public's pocket:

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:

More charter school shenanigans from the NC GOP

Taxpayers can find out salary numbers, just not who is being paid:

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."

NC GOP's misplaced priorities: more money for vouchers, a lot less for pre-k

The anatomy of a hypocrite:

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:

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.

Charter school extremists unhappy about rejected applications

Apparently shaking up the system is more important than good quality charter schools:

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.

Dispelling the GOP's misleading "protecting bad teachers" meme

Laws that are based on lies can't stand up under legal scrutiny:

On Friday, Hobgood ruled the lawmakers acted unconstitutionally in ending career status, which some call tenure. He said veteran teachers had already earned that status as part of their employment contracts and had an established right to a layer of review beyond school administrators when they face firing. The law, he noted, unconstitutionally ended rights teachers have that protect contracts and prevents governments from taking their property.

Proponents contended that the new law, set to go into effect in 2018, was needed to ensure that bad teachers could be removed from the classroom. They argued that the current system protected poor performers. Hogwash. Bad teachers could be fired before this law. The current system, in place since 1971, only guaranteed educators a hearing.

As a manager I often had new and relatively inexperienced supervisors come to me saying they wanted to fire employee X or Y based on performance. When I asked them to "show me your documentation" on performance reviews or other attempted corrective actions, they'd sometimes get that deer-in-a-headlight look. People are human, and a personality conflict doesn't always mean someone is a "bad" employee. All employees (not just teachers) who have passed a probationary period deserve an objective hearing before they can be fired for cause. It's good for the individual and it's good for the organization.

Budgeted to fail: NC's textbook shortage worsens

It's hard to teach by the book when you don't have one:

Lucas said that districts across the state used to adopt a new set of books each year, working on a five-year rotation to cover each subject area. That meant that almost no textbook was older than five years. The last time the district bought a set of books to cover an entire subject area was six years ago. More and more classes are now working with books that are more than 10 years old.

It’s unclear whether the state’s textbook budget will ever return to its peak in the 2009-10 school year. That school year, the state budgeted $111 million for textbooks. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools received more than $2 million for textbooks that year. The next, it received just $88,000.

Of course there's no mention in this article of what government changes occurred between the 2009-10 school year and the 2010-11 school year. That's when Republicans finally got a chance to run things (into the ground) and "reform the failing public schools." Apparently the first step was to put a stop to all that book-learnin' and get down to the basics of forcing teachers to magically produce materials for students to study for homework assignments. Mediocrity, here we come.

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