Under the Dome

June 19, 2014

House panel okays fast-tracking expansion of for-profit charter schools

The House Education Committee approved a Senate bill on Thursday that would allow for-profit charter schools to multiply rapidly in North Carolina. In a separate vote they turned down a Senate bill on Common Core that would have allowed some of the standards to remain and substituted their own version which repeals Common Core and sent it back to the Senate.

The House Education Committee approved a Senate bill that would allow for-profit charter schools to multiply rapidly in North Carolina. The bill creates an expedited review process for charter schools that have a successful track record and want to expand in the state.

Applications for 2015-2016 have yet to be reviewed by the Charter School Advisory Board, which bill co-sponsor Sen. Jerry Tillman said is functioning “with some growing pains.” The board has endorsed 16 of 71 applications from organizations who fund for-profit charter schools such as National Heritage Academies and Charter Schools USA.

Tillman said for-profit charter schools have the right to expand as much as non-profit charter schools do, as long as they provide quality education.

The House committee wasn’t as receptive to the Senate’s Common Core. The Senate’s bill calls for studying standards nationwide and choose the best for North Carolina. House members said that left some wiggle room to keep some parts of Common Core in the state’s public school curriculum. So the mmbers instead approved a substitute that mirrors the House bill that repeals all Common Core standards and replaces them with North Carolina-specific standards.

Tillman, the sponsor of the Senate’s Common Core bill, said after the meeting that the House bill places limitations on the new standards commission.

“They’re tying the hands of the standards commission and saying they can’t do this and can’t do that,” Tillman said.

Larry Hall, who represents Durham County, said entirely eliminating Common Core standards creates doubt about what teachers can and can’t teach.

The committee voted in favor of the House’s substitute 25-17, with no debate of the Senate bill.

The bill substitute is on track for the House floor next, followed by the Senate, where Tillman said he would not recommend its passage.

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