JLF Memo
Jul. 31st, 2012: - johnlocke.org Manage Subscriptions

Charter school showdown in Raleigh
By Dr. Terry Stoops

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This will be a busy week for the State Board of Education (SBE).  State test scores and graduation rates will be released on Thursday.  I will have details of the results in next week's newsletter. 

In this week's newsletter, I preview the upcoming SBE votes on the 25 charter school applications vetted and approved by the NC Public Charter School Advisory Council.  Will members of the SBE defer to the expertise of the council?  Or will they go rogue?

Bulletin Board

  • Today would have been Milton Friedman's 100th birthday. To honor his vision and the impact he has had on our society, we have collaborated with policy groups from around the world to hold events in his honor.  Milton Friedman's contribution to 20th century economics is indisputable. But economics isn't the only area where he had a vested interest. Friedman had a vision for transforming education through free market principles.  Join us for a provocative discussion of Milton Friedman's ideas on education policy with the John Locke Foundation's Vice President for Research and Resident Scholar Dr. Roy Cordato, me, and the Civitas Institute's Education Policy Director, Dr. Bob Luebke.  The event will be held on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at noon at the John Locke Foundation office in Raleigh.

  • 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 N.C. History Project encyclopedia articles and other primary and secondary source material, if possible.  Go to the N.C. History Project website for further information.

  • JLF's research newsletter archive probably invented the Fosbury Flop.


Since passage of North Carolina's charter school legislation about fifteen years ago, the State Board of Education (SBE) has maintained responsibility for approving public charter school applications. To assist them in this effort, charter school legislation passed last year established the Public Charter School Advisory Council (PCSAC), a group of appointed volunteers who possess expertise in public school administration and management. Earlier this year, the advisory council recommended nine "fast-track" charter school applications to the SBE.  The board granted charters to all nine schools.  This week, the SBE will determine if 25 schools approved by the members of the PCSAC should receive charters to begin operation in 2013.

By all accounts, the members of the PCSAC conducted a thorough and thoughtful application review process reflected in the 60+ single-spaced pages of minutes from advisory council deliberations.  According to these documents, the advisory committee received a total of 63 applications and immediately rejected nine incomplete submissions.  PCSAC subcommittees closely reviewed 54 applications and invited 30 applicants to be interviewed by the entire council.  After the interviews, they rejected five additional schools and forwarded 25 applications to the State Board of Education.  In the end, fewer than half of the applications reviewed by the council received a recommendation.

Will the SBE deny a charter to a school recommended by the PCSAC?  It's possible that SBE members will feel compelled to "protect" school districts by rejecting applications for charter schools in counties that already have high concentrations of charters.  A handful of school boards and district administrators have complained that charter schools compromise their ability to provide a sound, basic education to students remaining in their schools.  Indeed, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Durham Public Schools each submitted so-called "impact statements" in response to this year's round of charter applications.

As I have mentioned before, disagreements between the PCSAC and school districts create a predicament for the SBE.  A vote to deny a charter to one of the contested charter schools in Mecklenburg or Durham counties would indicate that the measured judgment of the advisory council is no match for some good, old-fashioned school district griping.  Charter school advocates would contend that the SBE was unable or unwilling to conduct the charter authorization process in an impartial way.  They would resume their push for radical changes to the charter approval process, such as multiple or independent charter school authorizers.

If the SBE rejects one or more applications, they will do so in spite of strong public support for charter schools.  According to a survey recently commissioned by the Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C., 70 percent of North Carolina voters agreed that communities should be allowed to create charter schools.  Support was consistent across political affiliations and demographic characteristics.  A majority of North Carolina Republicans, Democrats, Independents, African Americans, women, and registered voters with school-aged children welcome charter schools in their communities.  It is too bad that a few school boards and district school officials do not feel the same way.

Random Thought

The most "American" Olympic sport is Modern Pentathlon.  I mean, it sounds like your average summer day in Detroit - swimming, running, riding, shooting pistols, and trying to stab a complete stranger with a sharp object.

Facts and Stats

NC Public Charter School Advisory Council Charter School Recommendations:

  • Aristotle Preparatory Academy (Mecklenburg)
  • Cabarrus Charter Academy (Cabarrus)
  • Cameron Creek Charter (Mecklenburg)
  • Charlotte Choice Charter (Mecklenburg)
  • Douglass Academy (New Hanover)
  • Falls Lake Academy (Granville)
  • Flemington Academy (Columbus)
  • Howard & Lillian Lee Scholars (Orange)
  • Invest Collegiate (Mecklenburg)
  • Island Montessori Charter (New Hanover)
  • Langtree Charter Academy (Iredell)
  • Longleaf School of the Arts (Wake)
  • Oxford Preparatory High School (Granville)
  • Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy (Bladen)
  • Pinnacle Classical Academy (Cleveland)
  • Southeastern Academy (Robeson)
  • STEM Education for a Global Society Academy (Columbus)
  • StudentFirst Academy (Mecklenburg)
  • Summerfield Charter Academy (Guilford)
  • The Expedition School (Orange)
  • The Institute for the Development of Young Leaders (Durham)
  • The North Carolina Leadership Academy (Forsyth)
  • Uwharrie Charter Academy (Randolph)
  • Willow Oak Montessori (Chatham)
  • Z.E.C.A School of Arts and Technology (Onslow)


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

PCSAC - Public Charter School Advisory Council

Quote of the Week

"The thing that amazes me is the combination of innovation and a consistent application of common sense. ... In these charter schools, you just see these examples of common sense and these things that are having an enormous impact on kids' lives."

- Thom Tillis, Speaker of the NC House of Representatives, at the Keynote Banquet of the 2012 Charter Schools Conference, July 23, 2012

Click here for the Education Update archive.


Upcoming Events

Tuesday, Jul. 31st, 2012 at 12:00 pm
Friedman Legacy Freedom Lecture
with our special guest Joseph P. Calhoun
Keeping Milton Friedman's Ideas Alive in Colleges and Universities

Tuesday, Jul. 31st, 2012 at 12:00 p.m.
Friedman Legacy Freedom Lecture
with our special guests Dr. Roy Cordato, Dr. Terry Stoops, and Bob Luebke
Milton Friedman, School Choice, and Public Choice

Monday, Aug. 6th, 2012 at 12:00 p.m.
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guests The Reporters and Editors of the
Q & A with the Reporters & Editors of Carolina Journal

Monday, Aug. 27th, 2012 at 12:00pm Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Ray Nothstine
"Is Civil Religion Enough? Religion & Presidential Campaigns."

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