NC Bill to Change State Charter School Law, is “Step Backward”
CER Press Release
July 10, 2013
Jeanne Allen, founder and president, The Center for Education Reform, who has been instrumental in the original passage – and subsequent adjustments to – charter school laws in states across the country over the past 20 years, today issued the following statement regarding North Carolina (NC) SB 337, which was approved by the NC House of Representatives last evening, and awaits final passage in the NC State Senate:
“NC SB 337 is at risk of becoming a step backward for the national charter school movement, which prides itself on creating more choices for students and parents. While the bill contains many positive provisions, it also contains unfortunate language forbidding the University of North Carolina (UNC) System from being a charter school ‘authorizer.’
Our experience at The Center for Education Reform (CER) is that states with strong, multiple chartering authorities, including universities and/or their systems have usually proven to be exceptional authorizers, combining the infrastructure of existing higher education institutions (financial, legal, human resources, educational, etc.), a very high degree of public and legislative scrutiny, and a compelling interest in decreasing the exorbitant costs of remedial education while improving the pipeline for their students.
It’s no wonder then, that the states which lead the national rankings for having successful charters have independent, multiple authorizers, almost all with universities as part of their portfolio. For example:
· The State University of New York has authorized 117 schools across the state from Buffalo to Long Island. SUNY-authorized charter schools are the highest quality ones in the state, and now serve over 35,000 New York students.
· Any public university in Michigan may authorize charter schools. Eleven major universities are now responsible for authorizing the majority of the state’s nearly 350 charter schools, including one university that authorized 59 charter schools serving more than 30,000 students.
· Indiana followed Michigan’s model and authorized public universities in its state charter law, and since then Ball State University has authorized nearly half of the state’s 78 schools.
Although the UNC System has not yet stepped-up to the charter-school plate, to close the door to that option now – per the current strike-out provision in SB 337 – would send the message that North Carolina doesn’t even want the opportunity to join these states as national reform leaders. Simply leaving the provisions currently in law that allow UNC contingent institutions to be charter school authorizers, if they so choose, is far more promising for North Carolina to become a leader in creating as many pathways as possible for parents to have access to better educational opportunities for their children.”