Lisa Gordon Stella: Charters: Quality over quantity

January 22, 2014 

Because I am vice-chair of an excellent public charter school, one might expect I would be thrilled about the level of interest in the charter model that we’re seeing across the state. Instead, I’m concerned.

I commend your editorial encouraging state leaders to approach charter growth cautiously. I would add: approach it with vision – a vision based on what’s really needed to help every North Carolina child succeed. North Carolina does not simply need more charter schools; it needs more excellent charter schools and particularly those dedicated to serving students who struggle in traditional schools – too often students of color and those from low-income backgrounds.

But to serve these students, we have to prioritize charter applicants with this mission, ensure truly equal access by requiring (and funding) food and transportation services, provide charters with access to facilities funding and enable weighted lotteries to let schools responsibly enroll students they are mission-driven to serve.

Over the next several months, we have a crucial opportunity to define North Carolina’s charter school sector, greatly affecting the course of public education throughout our state. By setting an extremely high bar for success and prioritizing equity and access, we can come closer to the goal of ensuring that every North Carolina child has access to an excellent public school.

Lisa Gordon Stella

Vice chair, Maureen Joy Charter School

Durham

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