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A Winston-Salem public charter school is continuing its efforts to bring in elite basketball players from around the nation and world, and recently saw three of its out-of-state players recruited to play next year at Division 1 colleges.

All three of the players who signed collegiate letters of intent came from outside North Carolina to attend Quality Education Academy, a charter school that is part of the state’s growing system of schools that are privately run by non-profit boards but funded with local, state and federal education dollars.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools, which monitors the 127 charter schools in the state, has previously raised concerns about QEA’s controversial basketball program, but neither DPI nor the N.C. Board of Education have taken any significant steps to curtail or stop the out-of-state recruitment. The school and it basketball team were the subjects of an N.C. Policy Watch investigation last year (scroll down to read more about that report).

June Atkinson, a Democrat elected to head the state’s K-12 public education system, said last year that charter schools have to accept students from North Carolina but the laws governing charter schools are silent as to whether that means the school is open to only North Carolina residents.

Meanwhile, the  basketball program’s efforts to look outside North Carolina don’t appear to be slowing.

Isaac Pitts, the basketball coach for Quality Education Academy, recently referred to his ongoing efforts to pull in players from overseas on his  Instagram account.

“Evaluating overseas talent and liking what I see! Wow,” Pitts wrote on March 28 as a caption to a screenshot of several youth playing on an outdoor basketball court.

QEAoverseas

QEA basketball coach Isaac Pitts comments via Instagram on overseas recruiting efforts.

In another photo of what appears to be the same video, Pitts wrote, “Just sitting here looking at game film of kids we’re interested in.”

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The Charlotte Observer hits the nail on the head with this editorial on the latest controversy surrounding North Carolina’s supposedly public charter schools:

“It’s disappointing that officials of some N.C. charter schools are trying to evade full disclosure of who gets paid what at the schools. Charters are ‘public’ schools and should be subject to the same transparency requirements as all other public schools. Read More

SarahOvaska-100x147RickyLeung-100x147NC Policy Watch Reporter Sarah Ovaska and New Media Director Ricky Leung were recognized today by the Washington, DC-based Education Writers Association for their outstanding series on a troubled charter school in Winston-Salem.  The two journalists were awarded second prize in the category of “Stand-Alone Feature” written by “Education Organizations and Experts” for their series “‘A factory of excellence’?” which documented the troubling history and practices of Quality Education Academy — a public charter school that built a champion basketball team by recruiting young athletes from all over the world and engaging in a variety of high-questionable practices.

Read the series by clicking here and read the EWA recognition by clicking here.

Congratulations Sarah and Ricky!

There is another powerful example this week of why privatizing public education is a lousy idea. As has been reported by the Charlotte Observer, 270 K-8 students are being dumped from the ironically named StudentFirst Academy charter school next week because the school is broke and will close. As the Observer reported:

“That leaves about 270 K-8 students scrambling to find schools less than two months before the school year ends. Parents who gathered at the school Thursday said they fear their children will fail state exams and could be forced to repeat a grade.”

And, of course, as is always the case with these charter failures, the traditional public schools will be left to clean up the mess since they will do their duty and admit the kids left out in the cold.

None of this is to say that all charters are inherently bad. Read More

Members of the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Board made a recommendation to the State Board of Education yesterday to give fellow advisory board member Baker Mitchell’s Wilmington charter school, Douglass Academy, a temporary waiver that would allow the K-2 school to avoid complying with state law that requires charter schools to enroll at least 65 students.

Last month, the Office of Charter Schools sent a warning to newly opened Douglass Academy, placing it on Governance Cautionary Status for failing to bring its enrollment numbers up to the statutory minimum of 65. At the time that the Office of Charter Schools visited the school, only 35 students were in attendance. Currently the school’s student enrollment stands at 33.

Members of Douglass Academy’s Board of Trustees, as well as its headmaster, Barbra Jones, were asked to come to Raleigh yesterday to explain its low enrollment numbers to the Charter School Advisory Board.

Douglass officials said that their low student numbers were attributable to the fact that they had to change the school’s location and deal with last-minute renovations, prompting confusion and doubt among what they referred to as their “target market.” Read More