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Members of the State Board of Education called a brief session today to consider a proposal that would allow 2015 charter school applicants who didn’t make it to the interview stage of the application process a second chance at opening a charter school in the fall of 2015.

Becky Taylor, State Board of Ed member and Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB) member, explained to fellow State Board members that out of 63 applicants wishing to open charter schools in Fall 2015, 42 were not invited to the interview stage of the application process.

Despite the low number of charter school applications moving forward, Taylor insisted repeatedly that the process the Charter School Advisory Board used to evaluate applications was exhaustive and thorough.

Nonetheless, Taylor said CSAB heard complaints from some applicants who said that when they sat through a subcommittee’s review of their applications, issues arose that could have been clarified had they been allowed to interject. The review process currently does not allow charter school applicants to interact with CSAB members until they reach the interview stage, although they are allowed to witness the review in person.

Office of Charter Schools staff member Zane Stillwell worked up a proposal to allow any of the 42 charter school applicants who were denied interviews a chance to petition the CSAB for a second chance.

By May 2, applicants must submit a petition to the CSAB outlining their reasons for reconsideration, which should only pertain to issues that came up during the initial review. No new information can be considered, according to Taylor.

State Board members approved the proposal. Decisions regarding who gets an interview will be made by May 20, and the additional interviews will be conducted no later than July 1.

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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

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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!

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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