I think we’re all suppose to be giddy by yesterday’s announcement that North Carolina is a finalist in the scecond round for Federal Race to the Top Funds. I”ve spelled out my reasons why I don’t share in the excitement. However, now I can add another to the list.
To improve the state’s chances of qualifying for RttT funds, the conventional wisdom was North Carolina needed to either lift the cap on charter schools or improve the climate in which charter schools operate. This reality did not sit well with the major political and educational leaders in the state, most of whom oppose charter schools. So what did North Carolina do?
The legislature approved — and Gov. Perdue signed — a bill (SB 704). The new law allows the state to convert low-performing schools to charter schools (See my comments on SB 704) . This is bad for two reasons. First, since charter schools are subject to the same academic performance tests as traditional public schools, increasing the number of low-performing charter schools will not help the cause. But I guess those in power knew exactly what they were doing. Second, and more importantly, the legislation puts the local school board in charge of all low-performing charter schools. The legislation essentially redefines charter schools. Under this arrangement, I wonder how it is even possible for these schools to remain charter schools.
Sorry, but it’s not a good day for people who think administrative flexibility and innovation are two of the best ways to reform public education.