Mobley opposes lifting charter schools cap

Published 10:33 am Monday, March 7, 2011

RALEIGH – As a measure to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state moves through the North Carolina General Assembly, one local representative has vowed to fight its passage.

District 5 NC House Representative Annie Mobley, an Ahoskie Democrat, said that Senate Bill 8 threatens the quality of public education in North Carolina.

“Senate Bill 8 is more than an effort to merely lift the cap on the number of charter schools in North Carolina,” Mobley said in a press release sent to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Friday. “This bill would fundamentally change the oversight and funding of charter schools, and in doing so it would endanger the quality of education provided in traditional public schools.”

The Republican led bill has been forwarded to the NC House following its passage in the State Senate. There the measure passed all three readings, the final vote coming by a 33-17 count on Feb. 24. District 4 State Senator Ed Jones, a Democrat whose region includes the Roanoke-Chowan area, voted against the measure all three times.

Senate Bill #8 (No Cap on Number of Charter Schools) is an act to increase educational opportunities for the children of North Carolina by removing the cap on charter schools. Its purpose is to also create a new Public Charter Schools Commission to approve and monitor charter schools and strengthen the standards for granting and retaining a charter for a charter school. The bill also authorizes local boards of education to convert schools to charter schools without forming a nonprofit corporation and by clarifying the funding formula for charter schools.

The bill states its purpose….“is to authorize a system of charter schools to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently of existing schools, as a method to accomplish all of the following:

Improve student learning;

Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for students who are identified as at risk of academic failure or academically gifted;

Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods; and

Create new professional opportunities for teachers and administrators, including the opportunities to be responsible for the learning program at the school site.”

Included in the bill’s wording is that….“any person, group of persons, or nonprofit corporation seeking to establish a charter school may apply to establish a charter school. If any applicant other than a local board of education seeks to convert a public school to a charter school, the application shall include a  statement signed by a majority of the teachers and instructional support personnel currently employed at the school indicating that they favor the conversion and evidence that a significant number of parents of children enrolled in the school favor conversion.”

Mobley said Democrats in the North Carolina House of Representatives are fighting this bill, knowing if it becomes law it will:

Allow charter schools to operate largely outside the purview of the State Board of Education and any accountability mechanisms, by establishing an independent charter school commission effectively controlled only by charter school advocates.

Siphon tens of millions of dollars from traditional public schools by allowing money for early childhood education, child nutrition and transportation to be diverted to charter schools, even though charter schools are not obligated to provide these services.

Give privately operated charter schools the right to use taxpayer money to pay for capital expenses, even while there is at least a $10 billion backlog in public school building needs.

Remove minimum attendance requirements for public schools, meaning that public money could subsidize the cost of home schooling or the education of very small private groups of individuals.

Limit student access by failing to require transportation, food service or guaranteed enrollment for students with special needs as other publicly funded schools must provide.

Fail to ensure that charter schools are making adequate academic progress.

Raise constitutional questions about whether the proposed charter school commission treads on the State Board of Education’s established constitutional duty to administer the free public schools of the state and whether it violates the Leandro decision, designed to assist poorer communities, by diverting resources from the traditional public schools and students who most need these resources.

“It is obvious to me that Senate Bill 8 is designed to dismantle the public schools and deprive North Carolina’s children of the education they so desperately need,” Mobley’s press release concluded.

There are currently 99 public charter schools in the state, according to Only one, Gaston College Preparatory located in Gaston in western Northampton County, exists in the four counties that comprise the Roanoke-Chowan area.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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