Last week the Charlotte Observer endorsed the Blue Ribbon Commission on Charter Schools recommendation to expand the number of charters and to take strong action against low performing charter schools. The editors say tough action is necessary because too many charter schools fail to meet state requirements. What’s strong action? Closing failing schools or not renewing the existing charters of schools that fail to show improvement.
I’m all for accountability and giving “teeth” to existing provisions, but why the double standard? Aren’t there far more underperforming public schools in North Carolina? According to the NC Department of Education ABCs test results, in 2007 there were 43 low performing schools in the state. What’s more the state is currently under court order to improve or close nearly 20 low performing schools. A cursory review of NAEP, SAT, ABC scores and dropout data is not encouraging reading. Yet, where’s the outcry about low performing public schools?
If we close charter schools who fail to perform, why don’t we demand the same from low performing public schools ? especially after many of these schools have been the recipients of hundreds of thousands of dollars in so called "turnaround assistance”? All the talk about accountability rings hollow if we keep open failing public schools. Doing so only underscores the truth that charter schools are held to a different standard ?one that seemingly doesn’t apply to the public schools.