In case you missed it over the weekend, the Wilmington StarNews had another good editoria l concerning the efforts of some of the state’s public charter schools to keep the salaries they pay secret and en effort by lawmakers to approve of the secrecy.
“The public has a right to know who works for its government agencies and institutions, how much they are paid and other important details of their employment. North Carolina’s General Statutes make that clear.
But after news organizations including the StarNews sought salary information for charter schools, a Charlotte-area state representative introduced an amendment that allows charter schools to redact the names of employees from salary lists. The House foolishly passed the amendment on Thursday; the Senate should opt for full disclosure.
At best, this amendment sets a bad precedent by shielding some public employees from full disclosure when others – including teachers in the state’s traditional public schools – do not enjoy that same protection. At worst, the amendment could go a long way toward confirming what charter school critics have been saying all along: that these schools are effectively private schools paid for with taxpayers’ money.”
The editorial goes on to provide more updates on the efforts of a charter school chain in the Wilmington area run by right-wing funder and activist Baker Mitchell
to keep many of their salaries secret. It concluded by calling on New Hanover state senator Thom Goolsby to help defeat the secrecy amendment in the Senate:
“In the Senate, Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, has championed disclosure and has sponsored bills that would open up more information about public employees. He and his fellow senators should reject this exemption and insist that charter schools be subject to all public records and open meetings laws – no exceptions.
It’s the taxpayers’ money, not private equity.”
Amen to that.
Meanwhile, Raleigh’s News & Observer shared similar sentiments :
“The debate over charters seems to have evolved in a distressing way. When they first came into the public scope in North Carolina about 20 years ago, proponents said they’d be laboratories that could explore ideas about teaching methods and courses outside the conventional rules. If their ideas worked, they could be moved into mainstream public schools.
So the schools were funded with public money, and the great experiment began. But in recent years, problems have been significant in some charters, with racial and economic imbalance, uneven academic performance and an indication that some charter proponents think of them as quasi-private alternatives to public schools, which is not what they are in the wildest stretch of imagination.”