There have been a lot of regressive education policies that have emanated from the North Carolina General Assembly in recent decades. Even prior to the Republican takeover that commenced in 2011, many Democratic leaders had already embraced the flawed conservative idea that our schools and students were struggling in many places because they were too “soft” and lacked sufficient “competition.” Hence, the early-century moves to introduce charter schools, dramatically expand the number of high-stakes, standardized tests and limit so-called “social promotions.”
In the last seven-plus years of GOP rule, the relative trickle of conservative education schemes has turned into a flood. Lawmakers have slashed funding, dramatically expanded charters (including for-profit, virtual charters), introduced private school vouchers, “education savings accounts,” “performance-based pay,” and state-initiated conversions of struggling schools to charter schools, and talked openly and repeatedly of privatizing what has long been understood to be a core function of government.
As unhelpful as each of these developments has been, however, they may well end up paling in comparison to the new and dangerous two-part change that’s currently making its way into law during the current legislative session.
At issue is the enormously controversial and dangerous plan to fundamentally alter the way North Carolina funds public schools by allowing individual cities to get into the business of running and funding public schools. Under the plan approved by the Senate last week, four wealthy suburbs of Charlotte that are angry with the administration of the county school system would be granted authority to fund their own charter schools and give priority admission to their towns’ students.
The plan is so radical and potentially game-changing that it actually drew negative votes from five Senate Republicans last week – something that almost never happens in that intensely partisan body – and is now attracting national attention. [Read more…]
- Bonus read: Bill to allow municipal charters becomes law despite bipartisan opposition, specter of resegregation