JLF Piedmont Triad Blog

WSFCS: First charter school district?

Winston-Salem-Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Don Martin reassures ‘confused’ principals and teachers that the system will not become the state’s first charter school district anytime soon, even in light of state Rep. Donny Lambeth’s bill.

Martin sent an email to principals this week, urging them to reassure confused teachers that the district wouldn’t convert to a charter-school district unless each school agreed to and completed a lengthy process of transitioning to a charter individually. The method is outlined in a white paper that Martin wrote on behalf of a committee of superintendents from across the state.

“Assuming that such a law would pass — no school would convert unless the principal was invited to apply and the faculty wanted to convert — so put their minds at ease,” Martin wrote after a story Sunday in the Winston-Slaem Journal outlining Lambeth’s bill to make Forsyth the state’s first charter school district.

Note who’s speaking out against Lambeth’s bill —-none other than Vernon Robinson—- former Winston-Salem City Council member, former Congressional candidate and president and co-founder of the N.C. Education Reform Foundation:

“School districts are bureaucratic by nature, and calling a school run by the district ‘charter’ that does not have the autonomy enjoyed by charter schools is a charter school in name only,” Robinson said. “Most school districts are opposed to competition, and any increase in the district’s ability to control the charter-school application proc-ess would reduce the number of charter schools to those where school districts can dump students they don’t want.”

Robinson said a local charter-school district would be perplexing.

“Calling the non-autonomous schools in partially deregulated bureaucratic school districts ‘charter’ will confuse parents and little children and would be a violation of truth-in-advertising practices if this type of content was regu-lated by the (federal government),” Robinson said. “If you want to give district schools regulatory relief, great. Just don’t call them charters and hope no one will notice.”

JLF Director of Education Studies Terry Stoops similarly warns of increased regulations even as the number of applications for charter schools surges.

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