Tomorrow afternoon, the North Carolina Senate is set to vote on SB 337, which creates a Public Charter School Board that is separate from the State Board of Education and does away with the Charter School Advisory Council. This bill would needlessly exempt charter schools from any requirement that teachers be certified.
Under current law, just 50% of charter school teachers in middle and high school and 75% of charter school teachers in elementary school are required to be certified. SB 337 removes even this minimal floor and allows charter schools to operate without any certified teachers. Charter schools can already employ many uncertified teachers, and teachers outside of core subject areas in grades 6-12 are not even required to be college graduates. There is no reason to lower the bar even further when it comes to who can teach children in charter schools.
Parents want their children to be taught by high quality teachers and they expect that teachers will possess education and certification in the area they are instructing. Research confirms what parents already know – certified teachers do a better job of educating children. Dr. Helen Ladd from Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy found that North Carolina students who were taught by uncertified teachers suffered losses in student achievement when compared to children who were taught by certified teachers.
According to State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey, this bill would also create an unconstitutional school board. The State Board of Education, charged in the North Carolina Constitution with overseeing the state’s education system, presently relies on the Charter School Advisory Council to review charter school applications and make recommendations regarding the approval and oversight of North Carolina’s charter schools. Both bodies have been working to develop and implement a system of charter school oversight and approval that grows charter schools responsibly. SB 337 would create a completely separate school board that makes charter schools less accountable and loses the progress that has been made toward creating a meaningful approval and oversight process.
The original purpose behind public charter schools was that they would work together with traditional public schools to share best practices and innovative teaching techniques, ensure that services and educational programming are not needlessly duplicated, and generally make sure that charter schools and public schools are working together to serve the diverse needs of all children in the state. SB 337 would lower the quality of the teaching force in charter schools, stifle charter school oversight and accountability, and create an unconstitutional board that pits one public school system against another rather than foster collaboration.