The frustration that some elected officials feel about low-performing schools and the inability to improve them is understandable. But the proposal floated by some lawmakers to have charter companies take over some of the schools and form a “special district” is wrong.
This would not represent a solution to the problem of perennially low-performing schools, which typically have large proportions of poor and minority students. This would be an abdication of responsibility. The state is under a long-standing mandate from the courts to ensure that every child in North Carolina get a “sound, basic” education.
The best way to improve failing schools is to invest more in personnel and resources and to focus on improvement. Handing those schools over to charter companies ensures nothing.
And, given the previous maneuvers against public schools by Republicans in the General Assembly, it’s suspicious. GOP leaders already rammed through an expansion of charter schools, though their performance has been uneven. And those same leaders have pushed vouchers, public money to enable parents to send their kids to private schools. In the cases of both these ideas, money is drained from conventional public schools.
Public schools that need help are not someone else’s problem. They should get public oversight and support.