The last chapter for the 2005 General Assembly changing the cap on charter schools has been written. Again, the GOMs (Gatekeepers of Mediocrity) seem to have won.
At the beginning of this session there were three bills introduced addressing this issue. Two bills, S213 and H1368 (only 12 words long), simply removed the charter school cap. The discouraging reality was only 5 Senators and 20 Representatives signed-on to sponsor the bills. Then there was a longer bill, S490, which raised the charter cap by 10 a year. Fourteen Senators signed onto this bill.
However, NONE of the bills were heard in committee. The Democrat and Republican GOMs did not even allow for a discussion.
Then in June, Section 7.58, raising the charter cap, was placed in the 7th edition of S622, the state budget. When the budget was released, Section 7.58 was totally changed. Raising the charter school cap was quietly removed; and with it, North Carolina lost the opportunity to receive a federal grant for over $19 million.
Coincidentally, on August 4th, the State Board of Education granted the last charter allowed under the current cap. Never mind the long waiting lists families must face when applying for charter schools. Never mind a greater percentage of regular charter schools met AYP, than traditional schools this year. Never mind a greater percentage of regular charter schools made ABC’s “High Growth” distinction, than regular traditional schools this year. Never mind a greater percentage of regular charter schools were labeled “Schools of Distinction” and “Schools of Excellence”, than traditional public schools this year.
Over the next two years, $13 billion will be spent on K-12 education.
The state budget, Part VII, Section 7.1 through Section 7.61b (34 pages), specifically deals with public schools. However, you will find nothing challenging the bureaucratic, political monopoly of government-run schools. There is not one section empowering parents, not one section providing options other than traditional government schools.
During the next election for General Assembly members, voters need to remember this year. The GOMs, I mean the leadership in the Senate, House, and especially leadership in the education committees must changed in order for families in North Carolina to ever experience educational freedom.
To learn more about charter schools as well as the latest education news, visit the Alliance online at www.nceducationalliance.org. Check out the “Headlines” section of our home page, updated daily with articles from every major newspaper in the state. At the Alliance, we are committed to keeping you informed and empowered as we join together to improve education for the children of North Carolina