Brunswick County Public Schools' Jessica Swencki published an editorial in this morning’s Raleigh’s News & Observer in which she explains what’s really driving a large and growing segment of the charter school movement: private, for-profit companies out to milk the public coffers.
North Carolina is ripe for an infiltration of nefarious profit-seeking characters in public education. The cap on charter schools has been lifted and the longstanding requirement for “innovation” gone. Local boards of education are no longer offered the opportunity to comment on new charter schools filing applications to open in their communities. The Department of Public Instruction is undeniably understaffed, and on-site audits of charter schools are infrequent at best.
There are many excellent public charter schools across our state. These charters were usually organized by grassroots efforts of visionaries within a community seeking to expand the public education opportunities available – people who believed in innovation and alternative teaching methods and who were willing to personally sacrifice so that the community’s children would gain. Unfortunately, that is not the story of all charter schools in North Carolina.
In North Carolina, charter schools are operated by “nonprofit” corporations, which are not subject to the same laws that demand public accountability for state and local tax dollars. These “nonprofit” corporations can be subsidiaries of larger for-profit corporations – all the nonprofit corporation needs is a “board” of purportedly earnest, well-intentioned people during the application process. Once the charter is granted, there is very little to stop the potential exploitation of our state’s limited public education resources.