CER Press Release
July 12, 2013
The Center for Education Reform (CER), the nation’s leading voice for substantive and lasting schools reform, last night urged leaders in both the NC Senate and House charged with resolving differences in the proposed charter school law amendment (SB 337) to reconsider their efforts to weaken the state’s charter school law and adopt language that makes North Carolina a better place for charter schools to grow and thrive.
“Our recommendation, based on two decades of work in working on state charter school laws consists of two basic points — preserve what is good in existing law and build on it,” said Jeanne Allen, founder and president, CER. “North Carolina rightly prides itself on creating more and better school choices for students and their parents. Unfortunately, while the proposed bill amending the state’s charter school law contains many positive provisions supporting that goal, it also contains unfortunate language that would be a step backward.”
Among provisions of the proposed SB 337 that are of most concern to education reformers are those in the arena of charter school authorizing. One provision, which Allen termed “unfortunate” in a statement earlier this week, would forbid the University of North Carolina (UNC) System from being a charter school authorizer.
“Alternative, independent chartering entities — including UNC — must be preserved and ideally, their role in creating new learning opportunities for children should be strengthened,” said Allen. “In fact, the states that have excelled in providing better education for all children have entities such as universities involved in chartering schools and are home to the most and best charter schools with additional state oversight.”
Allen explained that nationwide, laws that permit the involvement of multiple chartering authorities foster not only healthy charter schools but improvement among all public schooling entities.
Positive aspects of the proposed charter school law include providing charter schools with the right to appeal to county commissioners if a school district rejects their request to lease school buildings. But while on balance the proposal in front of NC Assembly conferees includes some positive elements for existing charter schools, it fundamentally weakens the state’s charter school law and hurts the potential for children most in need to receive a quality education.
“At a time when many other states are strengthening their charter school laws to create more high-quality public school choices for students, the proposed bill will substantially weaken North Carolina’s charter school law,” said Allen. “Conferees have it within their power to ensure that their law is good for all North Carolina students and their families.”
The Center for Education Reform’s complete message to NC Senate-House conferees may be found here.