Charter Schools in WCPSS


For the first time in more than 100 years, Republicans control the North Carolina State House and Senate chambers.  Think of that.  For more than 100 years…

Elections have consequences.

One of those consequences may be the Charter School system here in North Kackolackey.

And I have mixed feelings.

I’m all for choice.  AND I’m all for public education.  The perfect marriage would seem to Charter Schools:

Charter schools in the United States are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter. Charter schools are opened and attended by choice. While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition. Where enrollment in a charter school is oversubscribed, admission is frequently allocated by lottery-based admissions.

Public money funds the schools, you may attend if you want to and if full, the school will admit based on a lottery system.  Seems pretty straight forward and fair.

I have school aged children and we might enjoy the experience that attending a Charter School would give our kids.  So my wife and I attended an orientation to one of the Charter Schools in the area.

I was immediately struck by one obvious and uncomfortable fact.  Everyone in the room seemed to be from an upper middle class background.  Or higher.  And virtually every single family in the place was white.  If this was a representation of the kids and families that attend these schools, the data we have is vastly skewed in favor of the school.  While even upper middle class kids should have the opportunity to attend quality public schools, these kids did not strike me as lower performing kids.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that if you were to leave every single kid who attended the orientation in the public school that are or would be attending, their achievement would be way higher than the overall achievement of the average public school.

That is, put ’em in a Charter School or not, these kids are gonna do well.

So, by creating a school that self selects children based on their parent’s desire and ability to attend orientation, sign up for attendance and THEN commit to the sacrifices required of families, you are building a school that keeps out the very “at risk” kids we’re trying to save.

Charter schools aren’t good because they’re charter schools.  At least not wholly.  They’re good, in large part because only families that demand high educational outcomes attend.

We should continue down the path of school choice.  But we should do it with eyes wide open.

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5 comments
  1. Jerimee said:

    I wanted to thank you for this thoughtful post.

    The idea of using public money for schools that are outside public oversight seems like a bad one to me. Despite this, from reading your post I understand that you are concerned about the problem of inequity in education, and it is a blessing to come across a conservative willing to acknowledge that this is a valid concern.

    Much of the WCPSS debate seems to be about personal interests, with the public good barely an afterthought. But the schools serve us all, and we’re all going to be hurt or helped together by the decisions our leaders make on education issues.

    • pino said:

      I wanted to thank you for this thoughtful post.

      No problem.

      The idea of using public money for schools that are outside public oversight seems like a bad one to me.

      I disagree with you on this one. I am of the opinion that government spends money poorly. As much money as we can get out of the control of the government is good.

      Despite this, from reading your post I understand that you are concerned about the problem of inequity in education, and it is a blessing to come across a conservative willing to acknowledge that this is a valid concern.

      I DO break from my conservative friends on this. I am a strong supporter of the market. However, there are several requirements to a market actually working. And an empowered “actor” is one of them. And “at risk” kids aren’t empowered.

      But the schools serve us all, and we’re all going to be hurt or helped together by the decisions our leaders make on education issues.

      This is true.

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ve taken a brief tour of momsrising; we may not agree on much more than education. But hey, where we DO agree, we should emphasize, right?

  2. Henry said:

    Since I work at a public school, I am able to more accurately understand why public schools are failing the educational needs of our kids. Unlike most of my coworkers, I am a strong supporter of charter schools in the same way that I am thankful for the Japanese auto industry. When I go shopping for a new car or truck, I buy American, but I appreciate the competition that the foreign automakers bring to the table. They force American manufactures to do better, and charter schools are forcing public schools to improve.

  3. pino said:

    I am a strong supporter of charter schools

    Good on ya my man!

    charter schools are forcing public schools to improve.

    There is evidence to suggest that alternative forms of schools are doing just that. However, I also think there is data that suggests the opposite. I can’t help but see the trends of strong students fleeing the system leaving behind the most at risk kids.

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