Washington, DC – A chatty little diatribe titled “Scary reading in charter school bill” graced the WaPo on March 28. Confounding misinformation with ignorance in breathtaking fashion, the near-sighted worthy confuses nearly sky-high, out-of-sight accountability with “apparently none.”
True. If you do not bother to read the statute, no accountability will be apparent to you; and you will not bother to state the fact that the statute requires North Carolina charter schools to take every single end-of-grade and end-of-course test that must be taken by district schools. Not only must charter schools take all the same tests, but they must report the results to the parents and to the State Board of Education. Finally, they must adhere to the “A” to “F” grading system being imposed on all public schools in NC.
Not reading the statute will also allow you miss the statute’s requirement that every charter school must have an outside auditing firm, approved by the state, examine not only its detailed finances but to test it for legal and procedural compliance with the numerous laws such as the state’s “Open Meetings Act” and the state’s “Freedom of Information” law.
Not reading the statute will allow you to miss the fact that every child in the state, regardless of academic ability, race, income, location, etc. may attend a charter school according to the law.
Not reading the statute has allowed the “reporter” to miss the fact that a parent may withdraw their child at any time, whereby the funding to the school for that child stops. The ultimate in accountability occurs when parents withdraw their children to force the over-night closure of any charter school in the state. Try that with a government-run district school and the parents will be arrested by Social Services while the government school keeps on getting its money.
Not reading any of the statutes also allows one to miss the fact any board member in North Carolina may be subject to at least four, and perhaps as many as seven, conflict-of-interest laws, policies, and ethics statements, such as
- On boards of private non-profit corporations GS 55A,
- On boards of private for-profit corporations GS 55,
- On boards or commissions created by the state or local government GS 138A,
- Standards of Conduct for NC DPI Public Schools of NC (TCS-C-004)
- Official Actions of Public Servants on Advisory Bodies (TCS-C-026),
- On the Public Charter School Advisory Council, or
- On a charter school board.
WaPo keeps quoting the “Progressive Pulse.” It would be helpful if they quoted the complete law instead. For example they mention derisively that the new bill requires charter schools only to make a “best efforts” attempt to reflect racial and ethnic composition of the LEA in which they are located. Such scorn for best efforts ignores the unmentioned statutory requirement that charter schools must accept all applicants and hold a lottery if there are more applicants than seats. Charter schools are prohibited from employing “press-gangs” to Shanghai students, nor may they impose any admission requirement other than state residency.
WaPo repeats the Pulse’s reporting that the Republican-sponsored bill does not mandate criminal background checks for charter schools, but fails to note that such checks have not been mandated for the government-run schools either. If a mandate is a good idea, then why have the last 140 years gone by under Democratic rule without such a mandate.
Again quoting the sclerotic Pulse and failing any attempt at independent reporting, WaPo parrots the fact that charters are free to hire their own teachers. Only six blocks away from WaPo is headquartered the esteemed National Council for Teacher Quality which publishes their semi-annual evaluation of teacher preparation programs across our fruited plain. North Carolina’s teacher preparation programs have received a “D-“ in every report to date with little, if any, sign of improvement. http://www.nctq.org/stpy11Home.do
The men and women who dedicate themselves to the hard work of teaching are to be honored and revered, but school children should not be victims of the poor preparation these teachers receive from the so-called schools of education while some teachers finally become proficient through OJT. And those that do not become proficient through OFT – guess what? They have tenure, too. Ha, ha.
Forcing charter schools to draw its teachers from the same “D-“ pool as the government-run schools presents parents with only a Hobson’s choice in education. Instead, for true choice, a charter school may now hire a retired chemist to teach chemistry or a real engineer or physicist to teach science. What a novel idea!
Yes, the WaPo may be in a class by itself when it comes to removing any notion of thorough fact checking or independent reporting. And on second thought, it is not so scary after all. It’s just another vapid screed yakked up by the liberal, lap-dog media. Get out your mop, if you decide to see their article for yourself at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/28/scary-reading-in-charter-school-bill/
We have the Washington Post with its “scary reading” of the bill. Also, we have the N&R with its “dramatically brazen” label. And the Charlotte Observer scurries to keep up by scribbling its own furrowed-brow description of “very troubling.” (sigh)
Since charters are required to take all the same end-of-grade tests as district schools and publish these results for the parents, the truth will out. The money follows the child; and if the parents withdraw their children from a low-performing charter, the school closes. Try that with a district school, and the parent gets a visit from DSS and a deputy while the school continues merrily on its way – a real-life scenario that is truly scary, brazen, and troubling.