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According to Article IX, Sec. 5 of the North Carolina
Constitution, the State Board of Education is responsible for supervising and
administering "the free public school system and the educational funds
provided for its support."
Additionally, they are charged with making "all needed rules and
regulations," subject to laws enacted by the General Assembly, necessary
to fulfill their duties and responsibilities.
Unfortunately, State Board of Education rules often have
little to do with supervising and administering North Carolina's free public
school system in a fair and judicious way.
Nobody knows that better than the non-profit board of the North Carolina
Virtual Academy, which is likely to become North Carolina's first online
charter school in a rather unlikely way.
- The John
Locke Foundation cordially invites you
to a North Carolina History Project Lecture with special guest
Professor Jeff Broadwater. The lecture will
be held on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm at the Historic 1767 Chowan County
Courthouse in Edenton, NC. Professor
Broadwater's lecture, "James Madison, North Carolina, and the
Problem of Governance," examines how Madison's political views evolved and
how they came to reflect many Anti-Federalist concerns. Please
call the Barker House at (252) 482-7800 or send an email to Troy Kickler to
reserve your spot.
- The Civitas campaign training program is focused
on giving participants the knowledge and practical skills they will need to
build a winning campaign from the ground up. Whether you are interested in
managing a campaign, running for office, or simply interested in how campaigns
work, the class will lay out the groundwork for an effective campaign
strategy. The training session will be
held on June 7 from 1:00 to 6:00 PM at the Brownstone Doubletree Hotel in downtown Raleigh. To register, click here.
- The North Carolina
History Project would like educators and homeschool parents to submit lesson
plans suitable for middle and high school courses in North Carolina
history. Please provide links to NC
History Project encyclopedia articles and other primary and secondary source
material, if possible. Go to the NC History Project website for further information.
- JLF's research newsletter archive.
Recently, the NC School Boards
Association began forwarding a petition to school boards across the state
asking them to "seek intervention as a party in the pending litigation
captioned North Carolina Learns, Inc. v. State Board of Education." The case involves the failure of the State
Board of Education to act on a charter school application submitted by a
non-profit organization, North Carolina Learns.
Advocacy groups like the NC
School Boards Association and NC Policy Watch have been critical of the
proposed school because NC Learns would contract with K12, Inc., an accredited for-profit online
education company, to provide computer-based instructional services. Like all charter schools in North Carolina, however,
the non-profit board would maintain oversight of the school, the North Carolina
The role of K12 is only part of
the story. The state's disregard for
North Carolina charter school law and policy is a much more substantive and
In November 2011, North Carolina
Learns submitted a charter school application to the Cabarrus County Board of
Education. State statute gives local
boards of education the power to grant preliminary approval to charter school
applicants. Nevertheless, all charter
school applicants must obtain final approval from the NC State Board of
The following January, the
members of the Cabarrus school board gave preliminary approval to the school
and NC Learns subsequently applied to the SBE for final approval of their
charter. The applicants hoped to obtain
a "fast track" charter that would have allowed them to begin
operation in 2012.
Enter the chairman of the NC
State Board of Education Bill Harrison.
In October 2011, Harrison
declared -- without a vote of the board and outside the parameters of the
charter school law -- that the State Board of Education would not consider "fast
track" applications for virtual or online charter schools. Certainly,
Harrison did not have the power or authority to arbitrarily deny review of an
application unless there were valid or extenuating reasons for doing so. In this case, no justification existed. The applicant met the deadlines and requirements
established by the board.
As a result of the SBE's
inaction, the NC Learns application remained in "limbo." At the same time, the NC Public Charter
School Advisory Council received and acted on 27 other applications for "fast
track" charters. In March, the NC
State Board of Education approved
nine charter school applications recommended for approval by the advisory
NC Learns filed a complaint with
the Office of Administrative Hearings.
That is when things got interesting.
As part of a motion to dismiss
the NC Learns complaint, the attorneys for the SBE argued that the State Board
of Education is not part of the executive branch and "exists as its own
constitutional body." Later, the
attorneys claimed that the SBE was part of the legislative branch. If true, then the Office of Administrative
Hearings would not have jurisdiction over the matter. Of course, the claim is laughable and the
judge rejected the motion to dismiss.
The administrative law judge
determined that the actions/inactions of the SBE "were arbitrary,
capricious, and without valid basis in law, rule, policy, process, or fact."
Further, the judge determined that SBE
action was not based on 1) action by the State Board of Education on the application;
2) any defect in the preliminary approval process; and 3) preliminary approval
by the Cabarrus County Board of Education.
More importantly, the failure of
the SBE to act on the application constituted "a loss of jurisdiction"
over the NC Learns application. As a
result, the administrative law judge approved the charter school's application.
Public school advocacy
organizations, with help from the mainstream media, prefer to focus the public's
attention on K12, Inc. But there is no
evidence that K12 or NC Learns acted inappropriately. In fact, NC Learns made every effort to play by
the rules only to find that the State Board of Education was making up the
rules as they went along.
Division of Motor Vehicles offers a watermelon
license plate but not one for North Carolina's
state fruit, the scuppernong grape.
Students typically will spend no more than 20--30 percent
of their time on the computer in the early grades. (North Carolina Virtual
Academy, Frequent Asked Questions)
I would like to invite all readers
to submit announcements, as well as their personal insights, anecdotes,
concerns, and observations about the state of education in North Carolina. I will publish selected submissions in future
editions of the newsletter. Anonymity
will be honored. For additional
information or to send a submission, email Terry at [email protected].
Education Acronym of the Week
SBE -- State Board of
Quote of the Week
"Online and blended schools are creating personalized
learning programs that are helping students who are not well suited to learn in
a traditional, brick and mortar classroom. Again, not for everyone, but
they are an ideal option for a small number of students. Even in states
where online schools have existed for over a decade, only about 1% of the
student population chooses to enroll. (In NC, the number would be less
than 0.2%). But for parents who have sons and daughters with unique
special needs, or have been victims of bullying, or who struggle continuously
in the classroom, online schools are not just an interesting alternative, they
are critical need."
- K12, Inc., Watchdogging NC Policy Watch, May 30, 2012
Click here for the Education