Interesting debate in Sunday’s N&R Ideas section over HB 1080, which would create an Achievement School District. Reps. Jon Hardister and Cecil Brockman–a Republican and a Democrat respectively—make the case in favor:

We supported the recent passage of House Bill 1080, a bill that would create a pilot program for an Achievement School District, or ASD, in North Carolina. This bill would allow up to five low-performing schools to be transferred to the ASD and operated by a charter school management company. It would also allow additional schools to be transferred into an innovative zone that would be overseen by the local education board and given charter -like flexibility. The goal is to provide these schools, where children are struggling academically, with special attention and enhanced oversight.

…While former N&R community editorial board member Robin Adams Cheeley makes the case against:

The charter school movement has gotten mixed reviews, according to a group of experts that recently gathered to discuss them at the Brookings Institute in Washington. Charters educate 6 percent of American schoolchildren, and many of them are poor, low-performing and African American. New Orleans has the highest number of students attending charter schools with 93 percent of students in the publicly supported, for-profit schools. That is followed by Detroit with 55 percent, the District of Columbia with 44 percent, Philadelphia at 30 percent, and Los Angeles and Houston tied at 21 percent each.

What you are proposing closely mirrors what Tennessee calls Innovation Zones. The iZones, as they are called, have not experienced any statistically significant increase in test scores, and issues have developed over how to close low-performing charter schools.

So you see, while I agree that something has to be done to improve our schools, I don’t know if charter is the way to do so.

For its part, the N&R weighs in with its lead editorial. Three guesses which way they fall on this issue.