by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
A little more than a week ago, the Center for Education Reform issued a press release that criticized Senate Bill 337: NC Charter School Advisory Board. The House displaced the bill today. Both the House and Senate will debate and vote on the bill on Saturday (maybe).
Jeanne Allen, founder and president of The Center for Education Reform, argued that a strike-out provision in SB 337 would discourage the UNC System from giving preliminary authorization to a charter school. Specifically, SB 337 would remove language that lists UNC System institutions (and school districts) as preliminary authorizers. To date, no universities in the UNC System have exercised that authority.
Under current law, proposed charter schools that receive backing from a preliminary authorizer must still receive final approval from the State Board of Education. SB 337 does not change that. It simply removes any mention of preliminary authorization.
The preliminary authorization language does not alter the intent of the bill sponsors and supporters, so striking it is unnecessary. On the other hand, there may be value in keeping the language in the charter school statute. It invites the UNC System and school districts to be participants in the charter school approval process. Eventually, they may prove themselves to be worthy of joining the State Board of Education in granting final authorization to proposed charter schools, similar to the “multiple authorizer” approach used successfully in other states.