Gov. Roy Cooper’s war on school choice continues.
The governor vetoed SB 392 on July 29. Among other things, the bill would have allowed virtual charter schools to grow enrollment by up to 20 percent a year.
Both schools, North Carolina Virtual Academy and Connections Academy, received a grade of “D” on North Carolina’s school performance grades last year.
While the grades are disappointing for those two schools, Cooper’s actions essentially stripped parents of the ability to decide their child’s educational future. Cooper justified his decision by saying the ability to add more students should remain with the State Board of Education, so it can measure progress and make decisions that will provide the best education for students.
So that’s it. Case closed. The governor is saying parents aren’t needed here, because government doesn’t trust your ability to secure a good education for your child. So, thanks anyhow, but administrators will now take care of the mess. In other words, parents don’t worry; The state will take that responsibility from you.
Cooper expects his words to inspire confidence and calm. They don’t.
In 2017-18, 472 public schools received performance grades of “D” – the same grade as the two virtual charter schools. In the last year the number of schools receiving a D grade increased by nine. A full 22 percent of all public schools in North Carolina received grades of D or F on school performance grades. Is the State Board tracking and measuring progress for these schools as well?
The problem is: charter and traditional public schools operate in two different universes. If charter schools fail – be they virtual or brick and mortar – they will be closed. Likewise, if a private school is not serving students, parents will become dissatisfied and vote with their feet, prompting the underperformers to close.
Not so with traditional public schools. Failing or troubled schools are seldom, if ever, closed. They remain open. Indeed, they often receive more taxpayer money under the guise that more money will turn things around (a consideration charter schools are never given). The State Board of Education monitors while students, staff and parents hope for improvement.
For many, it’s not a comforting thought.
These are among the reasons why so many want better educational options. Parents want to determine how and where their children are educated; be it traditional public, charter, private, home school or online schools.
Politicians like Cooper like to sell others on how progressive policies increase participation in the democratic process. Progressives are all for expanding the popular vote and speaking out against concentrated economic and political power. They tell us about how the voice of the people must be heard.
That voice is speaking. Earlier this year, a Civitas Poll found 92 percent of respondents said they agree with the statement “parents should have the ability to choose where their child attends school.” When asked if money was no object, and they could send their child to any school to get a good education, only 27 percent of respondents chose traditional public school, while 69 percent chose charter, private, home school or other options.
Is Cooper listening to the people, the voice of democracy, as he says no to the Opportunity Scholarship program and no to expanding charter schools? Instead, he seems insistent to continue his long opposition to school choice.
Progressive exhortations of democracy ring hollow because they trust bureaucrats over parents. It’s a position conspicuously at odds with the democratic impulse of the progressive movement.
While Cooper and other progressives love to extoll the virtues of progressivism, democracy and greater public participation, actions speak louder than words.
It’s a fraud difficult to comprehend.