Citizens threatened with arrest as they silently protested during hearing for SB 337

Just a heads up if you plan to silently protest anything at a committee hearing in the General Assembly.

You can’t. Well, you can, but you might be threatened with arrest.

SB 337, NC Public Charter School Board, was discussed once again in a Senate Education Committee hearing this morning.  As mentioned last week, SB 337 is a bill filed by Senators Jerry Tillman and Dan Soucek that is intended to remove oversight of public charter schools from the State Board of Education and put it in the hands of a new, independent entity comprising members handpicked by the Governor.

Last week there was an opportunity for public comment on the bill, but not today. Tillman explained that he had consulted with all stakeholders in drafting the bill and all who wanted to be at the table were included in the process.

Some members of the public expressed their frustration with Tillman’s decision to not allow public comment. Several citizens stood in the back of the room, waiting to speak. As it became clear there would be no opportunity for them to do so, two women tied scarves around their mouths.

The silent protestors were escorted from the committee meeting by the Sergeant-at-Arms. Patty Williams, who was with the group, said that the citizens were threatened with arrest.

Last week, Senator Stein put forward amendments to address the issue that charter schools are not a real choice for low income families–which were to be addressed today. Stein’s amendments did not appear before the committee and he was absent this morning.

Instead, Senator Hartsell put forward an amendment that would keep most of the bill in place but also allow for the old application system to remain in force. That would mean charters could still submit applications to the State Board of Education, LEAs, local boards of education, universities, and, a new addition, community colleges.

Hartsell’s amendment did not pass.

Sen. Bryant raised the issue, as she did last week, about conflicts of interest, asking Tillman if he envisions this board having appointees who have a direct interest in having charter schools. Tillman countered with the fact that since she has no problem with how people are appointed to the State Board of Education, and that she should then trust this appointment process as well.

Sen. Allran put forward an amendment requiring charter schools to conduct criminal background checks on their employees. Tillman forcibly opposed the idea, saying that charter schools and public schools do this anyway, are “credible institutions” and he was not in favor of imposing such a mandate.

Allran’s amendment failed.

SB 337 passed through committee.


  1. Frances Jenkins

    April 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    They should have been arrested on the spot.Tell the entire story.

  2. Joe Ciulla

    April 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Wonderful! These petulant protestors have been an obnoxious annoyance for several years, ranting and pouting when they don’t get their way. Do these people not have real jobs?

    The social engineers and their petulant supporters have had years to run our school system into the ground. The demand for all these charter schools comes from people who are sick of having their children treated like pawns, sick of having their children denied anything more than the most basic education because they didn’t win a magnet lottery, or sick of seeing their child held back by a system that was designed to hide, not help, our most at-risk students.

    And all the silly scarves, pirate patches and LTE’s are not going to stop the incoming wave of charters. The folks who are most upset by this have only themselves to blame.

  3. Mary

    April 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I’ve a feeling some folks will be talking out of the other side of their mouths when the results of this affect their families. They forget that the public system is ashambles because of Bush’s bearing down on testing, which did a lot of damage to the teaching.

    It’s interesting that the same people who turn against things like magnet lotteries are the same people who, in any other context, would be praising competition as a good thing.

    I’m glad my grandchildren won’t be attending schools in this state that wont background check the people who work in them and have to please stockholders in the charter school corporations instead of pleasing the parents with the education they provide.

    And anyone who thinks these corporate schools won’t keep out the at-risk students and take only best has to be smoking something pretty powerful.

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