Wake County’s school board is seeking state permission to treat 10 public schools like public charter schools, with greater flexibility to allow principals to manage issues like time and staffing.
We’ve never been big fans of the charter movement in North Carolina, largely because it lacks oversight and it peels back important funding for our public schools, including the 10 that are the subject of this request. Two of those schools – East Garner Elementary and East Garner Middle – are in Garner.
The principals of these 10 schools, if the request is approved, will find themselves on the hook for improving student performance in a way they never have before. And they will have to do so all while taking whatever school population they are given. Unlike the charter schools, they won’t be able to deny students entry and they won’t have some of built-in deterrents that charter schools have, such as requiring students to provide their own transportation to and from schools.
So, they will start off behind the proverbial 8 ball. Of course, one can make the argument that those schools are already there and that trying this experiment can’t put them in a worse place. But instead of giving up on an educational model that is already producing a large crop of well-educated students in places where the resources are greater, Wake County would be better served to really focus in on the funding formulas it uses to allocate resources to schools. If a school needs a hand up, then give it to them. That money can come from a place where students are already more motivated and higher achieving.
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Now we know that some school leaders would call that robbing Peter to pay Paul. But the fact is, doing that would be no different than what the typical family does in managing its own household. The resources are put where they are most needed and those things that are working as they should often get less attention or money.