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Parents For Educational Freedom in NC Responds To Criticism of Rural Charter Public-Private Partnership

June 13, 2013. Below is a statement from Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC), regarding Public Schools First NC’s comments about the N.C. Public Charter School Accelerator Program:

“North Carolinians have been fortunate in the past few months to engage in a rigorous and robust public debate about how to best address the diverse academic needs of children in low-income and rural communities.

imagesHowever, it is time to admit that the status quo only serves the institutions that benefit from it, not the children these institutions claim to serve. School choice critics support innovation, as long as it happens only within the spectrum of traditional public schools.

This view severely hampers the chances of academic success for many children in rural communities. Nearly half of all 3-8 graders now living in some of our state’s poorest areas still cannot read or solve math problems at grade level, according to data from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

These children are failing despite the considerable resources North Carolina already allocates to help boost the educational outcomes in these areas. In the House budget lawmakers are debating today, $209 million is earmarked over the next two years to help children in low-wealth and rural communities. Another $87.2 million is allocated to help improve students’ academic performance in small counties.

This is why the N.C. Public Charter School Accelerator is sorely needed. It leverages existing expertise to provide foundational support to open up to 12 charter schools by 2016 in low-wealth communities where few or no charter schools exist. These are school districts in which less than 65 percent of students passed end-of-grade and end-of-course tests last year.

Here are a few key facts about public charters and the Accelerator program:

  • Public charter students take the same state tests as traditional students.
  • A public charter is shut down if it doesn’t meet its benchmarks.
  • PEFNC doesn’t receive a dime from the state unless it brings $1 million to the table.

We agree with Public Schools First NC on one point: ‘strong public education systems are an anchor for our cities and towns and are the vital heart of rural communities.’ But just as no one child learns the same, no one educational model can meet the needs of every student. A strong public education system is not a school building or any sort of governing body, but an entity that, regardless of the model, benefits the public by meeting the needs of every student.”

Learn more about the N.C. Public Charter School Accelerator Program by watching this video.