Last week, we wrote about one key provision in the N.C. House budget proposal which would ease dropout requirements for virtual charter schools, online schools run by for-profit operators that have been besieged by withdrawals in their opening months this year.
The special provision (which you can find on page 18 of the House education committee’s report here) would allow such schools to have withdrawal rates of up to 35 percent of enrollments. The current state law allows a dropout rate of 25 percent, but by March, the two virtual charters running a pilot program in North Carolina were also pressing those boundaries.
Budget talks are continuing throughout this week, but today, we’ve also noted an additional provision in the budget which could have critics of the virtual charters concerned. State lawmakers hope to ease a requirement in the law that at least 90 percent of a virtual charter’s teachers be residents of North Carolina.
Under the House budget, that number would be lowered to 80 percent.
Keith Poston, president of the Public School Forum of N.C., told Policy Watch that the provision “runs counter to where we think the General Assembly ought to go in terms of accountability and transparency when it comes to virtual charter schools.”
“There are far too many questions about their track record in other states combined with how new these schools are to North Carolina to already be proposing ways to make them less accountable,” Poston added.
Such virtual charter programs nationwide have been widely criticized for academic performance. One Stanford University study last year found that pupils in virtual charters lagged their peers by as much as a full academic year.
We’ll continue to follow this important budget discussion.