The Follies

The Follies

Follies 4

National charter school advocates blast virtual charters

One of the least covered important stories in education in North Carolina is the state’s current experiment with two virtual charter schools run by out of state for-profit companies, one of which is K12, Inc., whose online schools have been plagued by scandals in other states.

A report last fall from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford found that there are problems with all online charters, not just the ones run by K12.

The report was funded by the Walton Family Foundation, a strong advocate for the charter school movement, and found that students in online charters made far less progress than their counterparts in traditional public schools.

One of the authors of the report said the gains in math were so small that it was “literally as though the student did not go to school for the entire year.”

Two staffers with the Walton Foundation recently blasted virtual charters in an online commentary in Education Week that was widely circulated in the education world. The commentary pointed out that “if virtual charters were grouped together and ranked as a single school district, it would be the ninth largest in the country and among the worst performing.”

Billy Ball with NC Policy Watch reported a few weeks ago that the virtual charters in North Carolina are off to a rough start, with roughly 20 percent of the students dropping out in the first three months of the school year.

It’s past time for a through debate about virtual charters in North Carolina. They were created by a secret provision in the state budget and never fully debated. We now have national studies that show the schools don’t provide a quality education, national charter school leaders are raising questions and kids in North Carolina are leaving the schools in droves after just a few months.

Is anybody in the governor’s office or the General Assembly paying attention?

McCrory claims credit for AAA bond rating that’s been in place for 50 years

The news releases keep flying out of Governor Pat McCrory’s office these days with the latest one claiming credit for something that has been in place in North Carolina for 50 years—a AAA bond rating from all the bond rating agencies.

The state is one of only nine in the country with the top rating.

The release quoted McCrory saying “the ratings are a testament to our responsible and conservative fiscal practices, sound budgeting and prospects for future growth.”

It does make you wonder what McCrory thinks the AAA rating given to the state under his predecessors meant, the governors he criticized for their budgets and tax changes and fiscal management—and the whole “culture of corruption” that he used to complain about on the campaign trail.

Either the bond rating isn’t that significant or previous governors have also exhibited “responsible fiscal practices” whether McCrory wants to admit it or not.

Environmentally—and partisanly—speaking

McCrory’s press office isn’t the only taxpayer supported group of people putting out propaganda to help the governor’s reelection campaign. The folks at the Department of Environmental Quality are working hard at it too, especially on their department blog, ironically named “Environmentally Speaking.”

There’s nothing wrong with a state agency keeping folks informed about what is happening affecting the environment and a blog makes sense as part of that strategy. But the language of the blog posts could come right from McCrory’s campaign website.

There’s talk of the alleged progress the McCrory Administration has made regulating coal ash and it comes with a partisan bent, with the staff writing that it ”stands in stark contrast to the deliberate inaction of previous administrations.”

That is apparently very important for the taxpayer-funded department to make sure people know, that past governors deliberately did nothing about coal ash. Thank goodness for Gov. McCrory.

The blog also reminds us that “Governor McCrory will continue to fight the Obama administration’s federal overreach in court to protect ratepayers and North Carolina’s economic health.”

One blog entry about coal ash ends with this, “this administration is committed to basing its decisions on science and public input.” That will come as news to many people across the state who are wondering about the sweetheart deals that Duke Energy keeps getting from its former employee who is now governor.

But don’t worry, surely “Environmentally Speaking” will keep us up to date with the information we need to know about the environment—and McCrory’s campaign talking points.