by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, Carolina Journal’s Lindsay Marchello and Kari Travis collaborated on an article about UNC’s laboratory schools. Laboratory schools are a new concept in North Carolina; Marchello and Travis explain them this way:
Laboratory schools are a developing phenomenon across the UNC system. In 2016, the General Assembly passed a law establishing eight such schools. It’s aimed at UNC institutions with strong teacher-training programs, and it targets public schools with the lowest performance scores. UNC will partner with local school districts to manage and run the K-8 schools, the statute says.
…Lab schools operate much like charter schools, offering flexibility and independent decision-making to those who lead them. As “schools of choice,” the lab schools receive per pupil money from the state, local, and federal governments.
Opening these laboratory schools has come with many challenges, the story reports. While lawmakers in 2017 upped the number of slated laboratory schools to nine, only five laboratory schools have opened so far. Marchello and Travis report that UNC has been having setbacks:
Given logistical challenges — namely, UNC-Charlotte‘s request for a one-year delay in the opening of its lab school — UNC officials are asking the number of lab schools be reduced to six.
But according to Andrew Kelly, UNC senior vice president for strategy and policy, that is not a bad sign. The story reads:
[This] doesn’t mean the university won’t be adding more. UNC just wants to get it right, Kelly said. Projects like this take time, and money, and “budgets are finite.”