Commentary

Editorials blast Forest for blocking report on charters

Dan ForestAdd the Wilmington Star News and Raleigh’s News & Observer to the list of community voices that are rejecting Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s absurd and revealing attempt to squelch the truth about charter schools.

Here’s the Star News from over the weekend:

“The theory is that, let loose from red tape, charters can experiment and try new teaching techniques, revitalizing education. Some charter schools do, in fact, live up to that lofty goal.

Like a lot of theories, however, that formula doesn’t always work in practice. In Southeastern North Carolina, for example, we’ve seen that charters run by private, for-profit companies have been remarkably secretive about how they spend taxpayer money. It’s hard to tell, but it appears that some of them have been paying headmasters and administrators bloated salaries while doling out peanuts to the front-line teachers….

Some Republicans, it seems, don’t want to hear anything bad about charters – or any inconvenient facts.

We are not anti-charter school. Some are excellent. We simply want thorough transparency and a complete accounting of how the schools are performing. We don’t need politicians asking us to use rose-colored glasses.”

And this is from the lead editorial in this morning’s N&O:

“Charters began about 20 years ago with the idea that they would be free of some rules governing regular schools. They didn’t have to adhere to the regular teacher pay scale, and they could alter their school calendars. They could experimen, and successes could be integrated into regular public schools.

Unfortunately, conservatives have crusaded for charters, which are funded by taxpayers, almost with the attitude that they represent a private school system within the public one. That’s not good, and critics have warned that the expansion of charters could indeed lead to these exact problems of economic and racial imbalance.

Forest and other state officials need to face the fact that there are problems with charters that may require some serious changes in structure and rules. Otherwise, charters will become exactly what some advocates appear to want: a publicly funded private school system with little accountability.

The charter school mission needs to be refocused on its original intent. And weak charters, or those with dramatic racial and economic imbalances, should be shuttered.”

Let’s hope other voices continue to speak out in opposition to Forest and his twisted efforts to undermine public education.

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