North Carolina's Legislature is poised to vote on a bill that would authorize state funds for charter school construction. This is a poorly conceived idea and needs to be reconsidered immediately. Although I am certainly a fan of charter schools, the research, unfortunately, has not shown that they are performing better than their public school counterparts. As a matter of fact, a number of studies, such as the one conducted a few years ago by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes, show that charter schools do not compete very well at all. I have a very warm place in my heart for charter schools and I firmly believe, as my two schools demonstrated, that such institutions can succeed; however, this has not happened nationwide. More importantly, most of these schools have simply not taken advantage of the original offer to use creativity and out-of-the-box thinking in order to improve the academic performance of our nation's schools.
North Carolina's legislature is composed of people who know little or nothing about public school education and they are making decisions about schools along party lines. If charter schools receive public funds we may as well say that they are no different than any other school in the state, which clearly goes against the mandates that were established for charter schools. More importantly, such legislation will do absolutely nothing to improve the quality of public school education in North Carolina. At a time when money is tight and spending needs to be carefully monitored and controlled, why would we incur such a burden if there is no guarantee of success? The whole idea smacks of politics, rather than the best interests of our children.
The original concept behind charter schools had to do with tradeoffs. The argument was simple - if these schools were offered the opportunity to operate with fewer administrative and academic restrictions than their traditional public school counterparts, they, in turn, would accomplish their work with less funding. In essence, those who conceived this ideas agreed to accept state and local funds only on the basis of their schools' enrollment. Why are we changing the rules of the game now? More importantly, why are we spending tax dollars on a program that has yet to definitively demonstrate its worth? Let us re-think this decision immediately.