by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Voting “yes” on education revenue bonds for Excelsior Classical Academy would have cost the city no money. But the anyway.
Those who opposed the measure explained that they voted to draw a line in the sand between charters and the Durham Public Schools. Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson explained, “Rather than acting as labs for innovation and exploration, I believe that charters are now becoming a mechanism by which public education in our state and our community is being threatened and being harmed.” Mayor Steve Schewel agreed. He remarked, “we are facing a situation where charters are making it so much harder for Durham Public Schools and public schools in general to operate successfully.”
You see, it’s about preserving a system, rather than allowing families to decide what is best for their children.
It’s no wonder why many black families, in particular, want alternatives like Excelsior Classical Academy. Only 36.4 percent of black students in Durham Public Schools were proficient across all tested subjects in 2017. Among elementary and middle school students in the district, 35.7 percent were proficient in reading, and 30 percent were proficient in math.
Durham Public Schools spent an average of $10,640.75 per student last year, which put it in the top third of North Carolina districts in per-student spending. (See graph of unadjusted per-student expenditures from the North Carolina’s school report card website below for recent trends.)
And one more thing. Charter schools are public schools. We’ve had charters in this state since 1996, so there is no excuse for saying otherwise.