Charter schools and their friends can breathe a little easier. At this morning’s Senate Education/Higher Education meeting, Sen. Tony Foriest (D-Alamance) surprisingly pulled HB 856 from the agenda. The bill, which passed the House in May of last year, would raise the charter school cap from 100 to 106. But here’s the rub: the legislation also obliges charter schools to accept a minimum number of free and reduced-price lunch students and requires the schools to participate in the free and reduced lunch program.
Independence and flexibility are two qualities which have contributed to the success of many charter schools. Yes, HB 856 adds to the number of charter schools but at too high a cost. The expansion of state authority to regulate the enrollment and operation of charter schools far outweighs any perceived benefit.
Since the General Assembly is expected to adjourn by week’s end, the action makes it unlikely the bill will pass. Let’s hope so.