The next time someone asks you how it is that North Carolina’s elected leaders are undermining the public education in our state (not to mention the basics of democratic governance), direct them to this morning’s lead story on the main NC Policy Watch site by Education Reporter, Lindsay Wagner. Here’s the lead:
For two years now, Arapahoe Charter School in Pamlico County has been fighting the State Board of Education for approval to expand from a K-8 school to a K-12 school. After the Board denied its request, Arapahoe appealed, and the case remains pending before the state Office of Administrative Hearings.
Rather than wait for that process to play out, however, Arapahoe’s director, Tom McCarthy, tried a different approach.
“We worked very closely with our local legislators, Sen. Norman Sanderson and Rep. Michael Speciale, to see if there was some type of legislative fix that could take place,” McCarthy told NC Policy Watch in a call on Thursday.
That “legislative fix” showed up in the Senate Education committee on Wednesday. Added to House Bill 250, legislation originally intended to address public charter school enrollment procedures, was a provision to allow all North Carolina charter schools to expand the grades they offer without seeking prior approval from the State Board of Education.
“Senator Berger’s office was also influential and instrumental in drafting the language,” said McCarthy. “And Sara Riggins in Berger’s office worked with Rep. Hardister’s office to make sure he was okay with the additional language so there would be no issues when it went back to the House,” he said.
You got that?Apparently unsatisfied with merely removing the cap on the number of charter schools in the state (a group that is already scarcely regulated at all), the state Senate is now prepared to do away with the last vestiges of charter school oversight. Under this late-session amendment, existing charters would be given virtual carte blanche to expand as they like — regardless of the impact on the public school system of which they are supposed to be a part.
If this new development doesn’t, once and for all, demonstrate what the charter school movement in North Carolina has come to be about (and expose the utter vacuousness of the “incubators of innovation” myth), heaven help our state.