NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

N.C. Teachers' Union Out To Close Charter Schools

December 23, 1998

When North Carolina legislators were debating allowing charter schools two years ago, they threw in a clause requiring the schools to "reasonably reflect" the demographics of the districts they serve -- in hopes of preventing the reestablishment of white flight academies that followed desegregation a quarter-century ago. Nevertheless, more than a third of the schools are already out of compliance -- but for reasons no one expected.

  • Twenty-one of the state's 60 charter schools are more than 85 percent black -- and one more is also said to be out of compliance.
  • So the politically powerful North Carolina Association of Educators -- which is affiliated with the National Education Association -- plans to push the legislature to force the State Board of Education to close the mostly black schools.
  • Republicans controlled the General Assembly when legislation permitting charter schools was passed, but Democrats took power in the last election, and observers say this has energized calls to force schools to comply strictly with the diversity clause.
  • More than half of all students attending charters are black, in a state where blacks make up only 30 percent of public school enrollment.

The schools in North Carolina have attracted widespread interest among African-Americans, which some politicians and educators say reflects the dissatisfaction among blacks with traditional public schools.

Around the nation, nearly two-thirds of the states have permitted charter schools, but the law governing them vary widely. Some states give control to local school districts; others, most recently New York, allow independent agencies to grant charters, thus bypassing local districts and, in some cases, local union rules.

Source: David J. Dent, "Diversity Rules Threaten North Carolina Charter Schools That Aid Blacks," New York Times, December 23, 1998.


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