Charter school measure passes General Assembly

Published 8:20 am Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RALEIGH – In a momentous bipartisan effort for North Carolina families on June 9, the Senate and the House passed a measure eliminating North Carolina’s charter school cap.

Senate Bill 8 (No Cap on Number of Charter Schools) passed the Senate in a 45-0 vote and the House in a 108-5 vote. The measure eliminates the state’s 100 charter school cap, requires yearly reporting from the Department of Public Instruction regarding the number of charters approved and denied and sets performance standards for charters.

The legislative efforts comes on the heels of a June 7 press conference, organized by Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC), where a Durham fifth grader joined Sen. Malcolm Graham, Rep. Marcus Brandon, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President Peter Groff and others in urging Gov. Beverly Perdue to help remove the cap this legislative session. Over 2,000 supporters and counting have called the governor during an ongoing PEFNC campaign to plead with her to help eliminate the cap.

“Yesterday, North Carolina families were shackled by the restrictive cap of 100 charter schools, but today we’re moving in a new direction that will loosen those shackles for many of our children,” said Darrell Allison, PEFNC president on Thursday of last week. “I want to salute our state leaders for moving on this measure in a bipartisan effort. There’s still much work to be done, including equitable funding for charters and creating a better environment in which how charters are governed. But there’s no denying that today was a truly good day and we look forward to Governor Perdue making this a historic day with her signature once the measure reaches her desk.”

Different versions of Senate Bill 8 were initially passed in the House and Senate, which led lawmakers from both chambers to meet in conference committee and create a version that would meet widespread legislative approval. Allison would like to thank committee members Sen. Dan Soucek (R-Watauga) and Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg); and especially praise committee members Graham and Brandon for their courageous leadership; as well as the direction exhibited by Sen. Richard Stevens (R-Wake) and Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake).

More than 20,000 families remain on charter school waiting lists as North Carolina has reached its cap. The state is now a signature away from joining 14 others, including all neighboring states, that do not have charter caps.

While significant progress was made on June 9, there’s still more to be done, Allison said.

“Though we’re happy where we are, we know that we still have more work to be done, particularly with our grassroots campaign calls to our governor in hopes that she will sign the measure soon so that this public school option can be made available to thousands of families across our state,” he said.