A controversial bill that would allow charter school operators to take over five low-performing public schools in the state was approved by the full house Thursday. It also now includes some provisions that school districts have been requesting.
Republican State Representative Rob Bryan of Mecklenburg County has been working on the bill for the past year. During that time, it's received a lot of criticism from people who worry allowing charter operators to takeover district schools isn't a good idea for public education.
"I don't purport for this bill to be a cure-all, nor do I see it as a program that will revolutionize all of education in our state, but I do hope that we can help provide relief to some of our kids who need it the most and have been stuck in schools that are not meeting their needs," said Bryan on the house floor.
The bill would set up what's called an "achievement zone" composed of five low-performing schools throughout the state. The state board of education and a special superintendent would pick the schools and oversee them.
School districts could then choose to turn the school over, close it, or ask to come up with its own program to turn the school around. If the district picked that last option, the district could operate the school with the same flexibility the state gives charter schools. If it chose to turn the school over to the achievement zone, the district could ask for approval to operate three of its other low-performing schools with charter school flexibility.
Democratic Representative Joe Sam Queen of Waynesville voted against the measure.
"We don't need to look to operators to take over our public school board's commitment. We just need to support our public school boards' all across this state with public policies and funding for a quality teacher in every classroom and a high quality principal in every school," said Queen.
The bill passed mostly along party lines, with Republicans supporting it. It now heads to the Senate.