Commentary

Justice Center executive director: Risks of controversial municipal charter legislation far outweigh possible gains

Rick Glazier

[Editor’s note: State lawmakers gave final approval today to controversial legislation that will allow four Mecklenburg County towns to establish and run charter schools. Since the bill was deemed a “local bill,” it does not require Gov. Cooper’s signature and is now law. Prior to the final vote in the House, North Carolina Justice Center Executive Director (a one-time chair of the House Education Committee) issued a statement condemning the proposal. The following is excerpted from that statement.]  

The argument for HB 514 (Permit Municipal Charter School/Certain Towns), was that the bill simply allows choice for parents and students in several small suburban Charlotte municipalities – choice to create municipal charter schools with their home communities.

The argument against 514 was that the bill, regardless of intent, will inevitably deepen the divisions in our society, accelerate the resegregation of our public schools, and exacerbates the polarization of our state, inflicting another grievous wound on the one unifying institution that has bonded our people together as one state under one flag with a common set of values – public education.

This bill is also fraught with constitutional issues, financial and logistical obstacles, and is being written and amended by the legislature on the fly.

For whatever benefit some may see 514 brings, the risks far outweigh the gains. If the proponents of 514 are right, history will remember little about today’s vote; if the opponents, however, are correct, and there is a good chance they are, history will long remember and never forgive those involved in its passage.

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