by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
The News & Observer reports on the potential approval of five new public charter schools in Wake County. The five are among a dozen that could open next year if approved by the state Board of Education. Critics don’t like this, of course. They don’t like competition and they don’t seem to like that parents are empowered to choose — and are choosing options other than the traditional public classroom. Our Dr. Terry Stoops offers perspective.
Enrollment growth in charter schools has exceeded the school district’s growth for three of the past five years and is expected to do so again this fall. This school year, charter schools added 1,324 more students from Wake County, while the school district grew by 42 students.
“There are thousands of kids on charter school wait lists for schools in Wake County,” Terry Stoops, vice president of research for the John Locke Foundation, said in an interview Thursday. “This signals there continues to be a demand for charter school seats. The new charter schools that plan to open are seeing tremendous interest from parents in those areas.”
Bingo. Parents are looking for options. But rather than looking at what is driving parents out of the traditional Wake County classroom, the status-quo education bureaucracy seeks to keep charters out. Dr. Stoops puts it this way:
“The PTAs have every right to advocate on behalf of their school and to be worried about the effect charter schools have on their schools,” Stoops said. “But the problem is not charter schools. They just don’t like the choices they’re making.
“Rather than trying to make their schools more appealing to parents, they’re looking for other ways to undermine the growth of charter schools in Wake County.”
Read the full story here.
According to state law, charter schools may not limit admission to students based on intellectual ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, athletic ability, or disability. Likewise, admission may not be limited to students based on race, creed, national origin, religion, or ancestry. When applicants outnumber available seats, the school must initiate a lottery selection process, and only in certain circumstances may the school weigh the lottery to favor demographic groups.