In North Carolina’s Race to the Top application, the state calls North Carolina’s “innovative” district schools “charter-like schools without charters.” The report gives Lt. Governor Walter Dalton credit for the phrase (see page 154).

The defining characteristic of a charter school is…wait for it…a charter. A charter-like school without a charter is just another public school.

So why use the phrase? North Carolina’s charter school cap may jeopardize the state’s application for nearly $470 million in federal funds, so they created this “charter-like” school category. I think the bizarre “charter-like” phrase actually calls more attention to our cap.

Update: The only reference to the phrase that I could find comes from a charter school evaluation report from 1998. The phrase does not appear on the New Schools Project website, even though the application refers to their redesigned high schools as “charter-like” schools.