Archives for category: North Carolina

Charter schools have managed to occupy an unusual spot in the spectrum of educational institutions: When it’s time to get public funding, they insist they are “public schools.” But in court cases where charters were fighting to be exempt from state laws governing employment practices or financial accountability, they insist they are not “state actors.” It is logically impossible to be both a public school but not a state actor.

In a current court case, a North Carolina charter chain wants the courts to declare that its schools are not state actors because they enforce policies for girls’ dress that is inconsistent with state and federal law.

Public schools are state actors. In effect, this charter chain wants to be declared “not a public school” even as it continues to be publicly funded. Why? It wants to preserve its right to ignore state and federal laws against discrimination.

Peter Greene explains the background of this case:

In the regularly pro-choice Wall Street Journal, Baker Mitchell and Robert Spencer want to complain about a court decision declaring that their charter schools are, in fact, public schools. This, they warn, “imperils the charter school movement.” Their complaint is a big pile of deep fried baloney.

The case that prompted this whinging

One of the charter schools operated by Roger Bacon Academy was sued by some parents over a dress code requiring girls to wear skirts (or skorts–but none of that pants-wearing stuff, ladies). Such a big deal. Who knew?

“We’re a school of choice. We’re classical in our curriculum and very traditional. I believe that the more of the traditional things you have in place, the more they tend to reinforce each other,” he said in a phone interview. “We want boys to be boys and girls to be girls and have mutual respect for each other. We want boys to carry the umbrella for girls and open doors for them … and we want to start teaching that in grammar school.”

RBA is owned and operated by Baker Mitchell, Jr., one of the titans of charter profiteering. Back in 2014, Marian Wang profiled the “politically-connected businessman who celebrates the power of the free market,” and how he perfected the business of starting nonprofit charter schools and then having those schools lease their buildings, equipment, programs, etc. from for-profit companies owned and operated by Baker Mitchell, Jr. Mitchell (now in his early eighties) thinks the rule is great:

The case bounced up through the various court levels until it landed in front of the full panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which declared that the rule was junk and had to be thrown out. Not a worthwhile call-back to what one dissenting judge called “the age of chivalry” as the majority noted such an age was also the age “when men could assault their spouses” and that chivalry “may not have been a bed of roses for those forced to lie in it.”

Nor did the court accept the argument that girls were still getting good grades. “We cannot excuse discrimination because its victims are resilient enough to persist in the face of such unequal treatment.”

So what’s the big deal? (Spoiler alert: that state actor thing)

Mitchell and Spencer are not whining about the loss of their ability to require girls to show their legs. They protest that the policy was created by parents; well, so was the lawsuit, so that hardly seems like a useful point. And it’s not the main concern,

The case hinged on the question of whether or not charter schools are “state actors” aka actual public schools. The court said, “Yes, they are.”

Mitchell and Spencer complain that no court has ever done such a thing and therefor: The Fourth Circuit’s finding appears to have been based on little more than the convention of calling charters “public charter schools” and their being mostly funded by public sources.

This is kind of hilarious, because the “convention” of calling these school public was created entirely, and purposefully, by the charter industry and its supporters. They have insisted loudly and often that charter schools are absolutely public schools, and have engaged in uncountable arguments with anyone who dares to say otherwise. Of course, they have also frequently insisted that they are private businesses when it’s convenient for fending off state scrutiny or grabbing PPP pandemic relief money.

And despite Mitchell and Spencer’s apocalyptic warnings, you know who applauded the court’s ruling?

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The importance of this case could not be overstated, as it was the first time a federal appellate court considered whether public charter school students deserve the same constitutional civil rights protections as district public school students. The en banc court clearly and unequivocally affirmed that charter schools are public schools and, accordingly, must be bound by the US Constitution. Moreover, public charter school students have the same constitutional and civil rights as their district public school peers.

Galen Sherwin, ACLU senior staff attorney, observed that the ruling was important because The court rightly recognizes that ruling otherwise would leave states free to establish parallel, privately operated public school systems in a constitution-free zone, free to implement race segregation, religious discrimination, etc.

So what are they really, really upset about?

The tell comes a little further down the piece.
The ruling comes at a time when the charter-school movement is growing. Oklahoma’s attorney general recently issued a legal opinion stating that religious organizations must be allowed to operate charter schools in the Sooner State. A key aspect of the opinion was a finding that charter schools are not state actors and, therefore, the Constitution’s Establishment Clause doesn’t prohibit the inculcation of religious values, as it does in government-run schools.

If charter schools are state actors, then that might get in the way of expanding religious charters. And sure enough– we find amicus briefs filed by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington VA, Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Clinic, the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty, and the Religious Freedom Institute. “These experts,” say the writers, confusing advocacy and lobbying with expertise, say the Fourth Circuit’s ruling would undercut charter schools.

Well, no. They would undercut the extension of private religious organizations into a sweet, sweet chance to get their hands on public tax dollars while still enjoying unregulated freedom to indoctrinate some students into their religion while also discriminating against whatever students they choose to discriminate against in a taxpayer-funded Constitution-free zone.

Are we done yet?

Of course not. The school has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their appeal. It invokes the 14th Amendment and features this kind of flag-waving:

North Carolina charter schools—like many throughout the Nation—build upon a critical insight: Empowering private entities to operate publicly funded schools with minimal government oversight supercharges educational innovation and expands parental choice. The decision below profoundly threatens this model.

“Supercharges innovation.” Sure. Making girls wear skirts is one hell of a supercharged innovation. My usual offer stands–name one educational innovation that has come out of the modern charter school sector.

Mitchell and Spencer want you to know that damn ACLU is behind this case, but they aren’t exactly being represented by a Mom and Pop firm. Aaron Streett is an attorney with Baker Botts, a multinational law firm (where both Amy Coney Barrett and Ted Cruz once worked), and that he’s the chair of their Supreme Court and Constitutional Law Group. Streett says that the majority opinion “contradicts Supreme Court precedent on state action…and limits the ability of parents to choose the best education for their children.”

The argument is simple enough–we are not a public school, so we should get to do whatever the hell we want (and be paid by taxpayer dollars while we do it).

It’s a tough call for the charter biz–if they aren’t public schools, then at this point they really aren’t much different from private voucher schools, so what’s the point of them? But if they want to market themselves as public schools, they can damn well operate under public school rules.

Who knows if SCOTUS will hear this, or what they will decide. But regardless of how things end up, it looks like the charter movement’s days of being able to have things both ways may be coming to an end.

Kevin Welner, who is both a lawyer and a professor of education policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote about these issues on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog last June, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Maine could not exclude two religious schools from state funding when it provided public funding to other private schools, even though the religious schools openly discriminate against LGBT students, families, and staff, as well as non-Christians. The case is called Carson V. Makin.

Welner suggests that the Maine case may erase the line between charter schools and vouchers.

Welner wrote:

If charter schools are state actors, they cannot engage in religious teaching or discrimination. The Peltier litigation did not, however, involve any claim by the school that its sexist dress code arose out of protected religious beliefs. If religious-liberty claims were to be asserted around a comparable policy adopted by a charter school run by a religious organization, the state-action inquiry should be very similar, if not identical, and the charter school should be prohibited from engaging in discrimination.

But as today’s Carson v. Makin decision illustrates, the introduction of free-exercise protections could greatly complicate the overall analysis. If courts side with a church-run charter school, finding that state attempts to restrict religiously infused teachings and practices at the school are an infringement on the church’s free-exercise rights, then the circle is complete: Charter school laws have become voucher laws.

If the Supreme Court hears the Peltier case, if it decides that charter schools are not state actors, if charters may discriminate against girls, LGBT students, and non-Christians, then as Welner says, charters are no different from vouchers. But if they are not state actors, then charter schools are not public schools. But they are free to discriminate against any group, without regard to federal law. And they are free to teach religious doctrine and to close their schools to non-believers. States will then be directly funding schools that teach religious zealotry and openly engage in discrimination.

A loss for American democracy, but a victory for Donald Trump, who appointed three religious extremists to the Supreme Court; Mitch McConnell, who refused to allow President Obama to fill Justice Scalia’s empty seat on the Court after the Justice died in March 2016 (on the absurd grounds that it was too close to a presidential election), as well as his rush to allow Trump to name Amy Coney Barrett to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat only weeks before the 2020 election; the far-right wing Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society, which selected the judicial candidates for Trump. And while it may be impolitic to say so, I blame Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg for refusing to resign her seat in 2014 or 2015, when Obama would certainly have been able to replace her. She had had four bouts with pancreatic cancer, and good reason to step down and give Obama a chance to replace her. Instead she stayed on and died at age 87, gambling that Hillary Clinton would replace Obama. She lost her bet, and the nation has a Supreme Court that is imposing a deeply reactionary agenda.

For the past dozen years, the General Assembly of North Carolina has been relentless in its efforts to crush the state’s public schools and their teachers. This period began with the ascendancy of the Tea Party in what was once the most progressive state in the South. Parents, students, and teachers got good news from the State Supreme Court on November 4. The following description of the decision was written by the Center for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University.


On November 4th, in a stunning 227-page decision, the North Carolina Supreme Court ordered the state controller and other state officials to transfer approximately $800 million from state budget reserves to the state educational budgets to fund a comprehensive compliance plan in the long-pending Leandro litigation.  The decision comes after the state legislature refused to appropriate the full amount required to implement the second and third years of the eight-year phase-in of the compliance plan.

The 1997 Leandro case affirmed NC students’ constitutional right to the opportunity for a sound basic education and recognized the duty of the state government to provide adequate funding to guarantee that right to all students. 

In its 4-2 decision on Friday, the state supreme court refused to permit further delay in fully vindicating the state students’ constitutional right. It remanded the case to the trial court to recalculate the exact amount of funds required for the transfer and ordered that the trial court to retain jurisdiction to ensure that the plan is fully implemented in the years to come.

The court stated the significance of the case in potent language:

A quarter-century ago, this Court recognized that the North Carolina Constitution vests in all children of this state the right to the opportunity to receive a sound basic education and that it is the constitutional duty of the State to uphold that right. Leandro v. State , 346 N.C. 336, 345 (1997). … In 2004, we affirmed the trial court’s determination “that the State had failed in its constitutional duty to provide certain students with the opportunity to attain a sound basic education,” and that “the State must act to correct those deficiencies.”… At that still-early stage of the litigation, this Court deferred to the legislative and executive branches to craft and implement a remedy to this failure. 

In the eighteen years since, despite some steps forward and back, the foundational basis for the ruling of Leandro … has remained unchanged: today, as in 2004, far too many North Carolina schoolchildren … are not afforded their constitutional right to the opportunity to a sound basic education. …

Now, this Court must determine whether [the state’s constitutional] duty is a binding obligation or an unenforceable suggestion. We hold the former: the State may not indefinitely violate the constitutional rights of North Carolina schoolchildren without consequence. Our Constitution is the supreme law of the land; it is not optional. In exercising its powers under the Appropriations Clause, the General Assembly must also comply with its duties under the Education Provisions. 

Rejecting the legislature’s separation of powers objections, the court held:

[W]hen inaction by those exercising legislative authority threatens fiscally to undermine the integrity of the judiciary, a court may invoke its inherent power to do what is reasonably necessary for the orderly and efficient administration of justice.”… Although “Article V prohibits the judiciary from taking public monies without statutory authorization [,]” when the exercise of remedial power “necessarily includes safeguarding the constitutional rights of the parties [,] … the court has the inherent authority to direct local authorities to perform that duty. …

For our Constitution to retain its integrity and legitimacy, the fundamental rights enshrined therein must be “guarded and maintained.” When other branches indefinitely abdicate this constitutional obligation, the judiciary must fill the void.

This forceful order reminds us that, at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court seems bent on abolishing or reducing important constitutional guarantees, state courts can play a critical role in upholding and fully enforcing important constitutional rights.

Note: The Center for Educational Equity helped draft the brief, amicus curiae, of the “Professors and Long-Time Practitioners of Constitutional and Educational Law” that was submitted in support of the plaintiffs’ position on this appeal.

A few days ago, I posted a column by Peter Greene about a dreadful plan in North Carolina to align teacher pay and evaluation with test scores, an approach that has always failed and that always demoralizes teachers.

Peter was relying on the thorough research of Justin Parmenter, a North Carolina teacher who is a National Board Certified Teacher.

Another North Carolina teacher wrote the following comment:

As a North Carolina teacher, I can personally attest to everything that Justin Parmenter has written about this god-awful plan. It has absolutely no support either from teachers or from school districts, where the administrators know full well that it will only increase their already desperate staffing problems. Yet there seems to be almost nothing that we can do to stop it short of the NC State Board of Education. At least there, a majority of the members were appointed by our Democratic Governor Cooper and may balk at a plan so universally opposed by those it will directly affect. We have no real union (NCAE is an “advocacy organization”) since we’re prevented by law from forming unions or collective bargaining. We’re also barred from striking. We have no recourse except to appeal to those few sympathetic political figures (like the Governor) who might be able to stand in the way of this. The DPI and the Legislature, who created PEPSC, are just looking for another way to undercut public education (without just coming out and doing it openly) so that they can move on to the privatizing that they really want to do but that the public at large still opposes. Driving away experienced teachers by undercutting their pay and heaping new burdens on us is just their latest scheme.

The sheriff of Madison County, North Carolina, reacted to the massacre of students in Uvalde, Texas, by putting an AR15 in every one of the six schools in the district. The guns will be locked in a safe, and breaching tools will be nearby. So don’t come into one of those schools to kill little children!

Imagine the scenario. A gunman with an AR15 shoots his way into the school, as the deranged killer at the Sandy Hook school did a decade ago. He blasts through the door, kills everyone he sees. Meanwhile, the designated defender goes to the safe, breaks it open with the breaching tool, and takes out the AR15.

By that time, the killer has had enough time to mow down the children in at least two classrooms.

The problem in Uvalde wasn’t the lack of weapons. Dozens of heavily armed officers hung out in the corridor outside the classrooms for over an hour. They had guns. What they lacked was courage, brains, and leadership.

In North Carolina, charter operator Baker Mitchell plans to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a court decision barring him from requiring girls to wear skirts to school.

The nonpartisan organization “In the Public Interest” reports:

A charter school which lost a case in federal court recently over its mandatory rule that girls wear skirts is going to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Baker Mitchell, the owner of the school, “said the ruling could change the landscape of charter schools. He said in the newsletter he believes it undermines the foundation charter schools were created on, taking away parental right to choose the education their children receive. Mitchell said he believes the ruling is creating a slippery slope, and in the future courts could allow states to govern what is taught in charter schools and how.” But “experts say dress codes can and do discriminate based on sex, and this ruling proves that. Wendy Murphy, an attorney and adjunct professor at New England Law Boston, said even though parents can choose whether to send students to charter schools, that’s not the point of the ruling: regardless, if a school receives federal funding, it cannot discriminate based on sex. ‘The statute itself is very simple,’ Murphy said. ‘You cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, period.’”

In 2014, Baker Mitchell’s for-profit charter chain was investigated by the U.S. Departnent of Education for financial issues. Mitchell, who is not an educator, won a fourth charter. “Mitchell has collected in the neighborhood of $16 million in taxpayer funds over the past five years for managing three other charter schools in southeastern N.C. Brunswick County Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Pruden is locked in a battle with Mitchell, hoping to convince State Board of Ed members to scrutinize his management practices and hold off awarding him more charters to open up schools.”

North Carolina teacher-blogger Stuart Egan called out Baker Mitchell in 2019 after Mitchell wrote a defense of charters in the Wall Street Journal. Egan pointed out that Mitchell’s Roger Bacon Academies are highly segregated and do not outperform public schools.

ProPublica wrote a report about Baker Mitchell and his charter school profiteering.

Mitchell is a member of the board of the libertarian John Locke Foundation and sat on the state charter school advisory board.

Best of all the Baker Mitchell is the pledge that students recite daily, as reported by Charlotte Magazine:

“Try to forget for a minute the outrage of wealthy businessman Baker Mitchell using North Carolina’s nascent charter school system to funnel millions of public dollars through four Wilmington-area charter schools he runs to private companies he controls, as detailed in an outstanding piece of reporting by ProPublica this week.

“Set aside the obvious conflict of interest in that arrangement, and Mitchell’s none-of-your-damn-business attitude about it: “It’s so silly. Undue influence, blah blah blah.” (He actually said that.)

“Look past his service with Art Pope on the John Locke Foundation board, and the world of symbolism in this paragraph:

To Mitchell, his schools are simply an example of the triumph of the free market. “People here think it’s unholy if you make a profit” from schools, he said in July, while attending a country-club luncheon to celebrate the legacy of free-market sage Milton Friedman.

“Turn your attention to the pledge that students, faculty, and staff at his schools are required to recite every morning just after the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge contains these lines:

I pledge to be truthful in all my works,

guarding against the stains of falsehood from

the fascination with experts,

the temptation of vanity,

the comfort of popular opinion and custom,

the ease of equivocation and compromise, and

from over-reliance on rational argument …

I pledge to be obedient and loyal to those in authority,

in my family,

in my school, and

in my community and country,

So long as I shall live.

“The stains of falsehood … from over-reliance on rational argument”? What? The philosophical basis for this bizarre statement—which, again, adults and children are required to recite every day—is the example of Roger Bacon, the medieval scholar and Franciscan friar who lends his name to the company that manages Mitchell’s charter schools.

“You can read here about Bacon’s extensive study of the science of alchemy, and here about his view of the relationship between insight and science: “Of all kinds of experience, the best, he thought, was interior illumination, which teaches many things about Nature which the external senses could never discover, such as the transubstantiation of bread.”

“Students are being taught this superstitious garbage, with taxpayer money, which then lines the pocket of the provider. What the hell have we let happen to education in this state?”

Former Governor Jim Hunt, a Democrat, is one of the most respected figures in North Carolina on the subject of education. As teacher Justin Parmenter explains in this post, Governor Hunt was a true education reformer who cared about students, teachers, and public schools.

Parmenter writes:

Among others, those initiatives include beginning the Smart Start Pre-K program, putting a full-time teaching assistant in every grade 1-3 classroom, establishing the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and creating the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (as a personal aside I’d like to add that I am grateful and proud to have been a National Board Certified Teacher since 2006).

Under Hunt’s leadership, teacher pay in North Carolina rose to 19th nationwide, coming within about $2000 of the national average during the 2001-02 school year. The state currently ranks 39th.

Since 2010, North Carolina has been controlled by Tea Party zealots in the legislature, who devoutly believe in charters and vouchers.

Many educators were surprised when Governor Hunt agreed to join a panel that was planning to change the compensation of teachers and tie it to test scores. Perhaps Governor Hunt thought he could steer the group towards sensible solutions, like raising teacher pay to the national average.

But he announced he was quitting the coalition. He must have realized that the state commissioner and her minions were wedded to merit pay.

Parmenter writes:

Governor Jim Hunt has withdrawn as honorary co-chair of the UpliftEd Coalition, a group which will promote a controversial plan to do away with experience-based teacher compensation and replace it with a system of merit pay.

The Pathways to Excellence proposal, currently being worked on by the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC), has proven deeply unpopular with North Carolina educators since it became public earlier this year.

Governor Hunt called on the coalition to draw upon the knowledge of teachers and listen to them.

That’s a novel idea! They are probably listening to the business community, which always complains that teachers are overpaid.

I would recommend that they read my book Reign of Error, in which I thoroughly debunk merit pay. It has been tried again and again for a century, and it has never worked. It’s one of those zombie ideas that never works and never dies.

North Carolina has a problem. The public consistently chooses to put its children in public schools, but the Tea Party-dominated General Assembly (legislature) favors privatization. No matter how poorly the charter schools and voucher schools perform, the General Assembly wants more of them. I wonder why? Is is campaign contributions or just hostility to anything public?

Tripster Travels

June 18, 2022

Time to Reconsider Virtual 

Charter Schools? 

After strong criticism of remote learning during the pandemic by the NC General Assembly and repeated legislative efforts to encourage districts to return to in-class instruction, it would be natural to think that the NC virtual charter schools, which are 100% remote, should come under increased scrutiny. 

Instead, the opposite happened. Last week, SB671, Edition 3 (Virtual Educ./Remote Acad./Virtual Charters) was introduced, which if passed into law, would allow NC’s two virtual charter schools to be upgraded to full charter status with NO REVIEW. The bill passed through the House with little discussion. As part of SB671, the “two pilot virtual charter schools…shall be deemed to be approved as charter schools by the State Board of Education.” In addition, they are allowed to increase enrollment by 20% each year based on their 2021-22 enrollment for the next five years, when their charter may be renewed for 10 more years.

In the 2017-18 SY, two virtual charter schools, North Carolina Cyber Academy (formerly NC Connections Academy) and NC Virtual Academy opened as pilot projects. Because similar virtual charter schools had seen poor outcomes in other states, NC did not want to grant full charter status until the schools had proven themselves. The experiment has not gone well. In the years for which there is performance data (see NC School Report Cards), neither school achieved above a D performance grade or higher than 55 in growth. The NC Cyber Academy earned the lowest possible growth score (50) all four years. 

In addition, both schools currently serve a lower percentage of economically disadvantaged students than the state overall and have much lower four-year graduation rates.

2020-21 Economically Disadvantaged Students

  • State: 38.9% 
  • NC Cyber Academy: 31.5%
  • NC Virtual Academy: 32.4%

2020-21 Four-Year Graduation Rate

  • State: 87.0%
  • NC Cyber Academy: 54.9%
  • NC Virtual Academy: 77.5%

In a classic example of the privatization of public education, The NC Virtual Academy is powered by Stride K-12, an online learning company traded on the NY stock exchange. While the company’s investors may be getting good returns on their investment, the NC taxpayers are not. 

SB671 also introduces an option for public school districts to apply to the State Board of Education for approval to operate small virtual academies enrolling no more than 15% of their students. The bill lists seven required elements for a district’s plan including (#3) Hardware, software, and learning mgmt. platforms that support online learning, (#5) The professional development that will be provided to those teaching in the remote academy related to the pedagogy of providing remote instruction, and (#6) The identified characteristics for successful remote learning…. In addition, clear evaluation guidelines are set out to ensure that the remote academies do not provide a sub-standard education. These and other elements of SB671 are steps that could allow public schools flexibility to meet the needs of their students.

When SB671 went to the Senate for a vote this week, members found too many differences between their original version of SB671 – Edition 2 (Changes to the K-12 Scholarship Programs) and the House’s Edition 3. On a vote of 0-42, members sent the bill to a Conference Committee to iron out the differences. This delay provides an opportunity for NC citizens to reach out to committee members to voice their opinion on the various elements of the bill and what to keep or remove. House members have not yet been identified. The Senate members are 

The past few years have given NC educators, students, and parents plenty of opportunities to see the positive and negative aspects of virtual instruction. Implementing lessons learned and evaluating results as we move forward are critical next steps. SB671 does the NC virtual charter schools a disservice by excluding them from an evaluation of their pilot stage performance

A federal court in North Carolina ruled against a charter school that required girls to wear dresses.

The charter school claimed it was not subject to federal laws against discrimination because it is not a “state actor.” Charter schools frequently claim they are not “state actors” when they violate civil rights laws or labor laws, but simultaneously say they are public schools.

An en banc federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a public charter school in North Carolina violated the equal protection clause when it required girls to wear skirts.

The full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Richmond, Virginia, ruled against Charter Day School Inc. in a June 14 decision. Judge Barbara Milano Keenan wrote the majority opinion.

The Charter Day School required girls to wear skirts, jumpers or skorts based on the view that girls are “fragile vessels” deserving of gentle treatment by boys, the appeals court said.

The school had argued that the school is not a state actor subject to the Constitution, and that the federal law banning discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs did not apply to dress codes.

The appeals court ruled against the school on both arguments.

The 4th Circuit decision is the first by a federal appeals court to recognize that charter schools receiving public funds must abide by the same constitutional safeguards as traditional public schools, according to a press release by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The en banc court and a prior 4th Circuit panel agreed that sex-specific dress codes may violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. But the en banc court went further than the panel when it ruled that the charter school violated the equal protection clause

The school founder had said skirts embody “traditional values” and preserve “chivalry” and respect. Chivalry, the school founder said, is a code of conduct in which women are “regarded as a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor.” School board members agreed with those objectives, including the goal of fostering “traditional roles” for children.

“It is difficult to imagine a clearer example of a rationale based on impermissible gender stereotypes,” the appeals court said.

Nine judges agreed with the opinion. Six dissented, in whole or in part, on the grounds that charter schools are not state actors.

Many people have pointed out—since the brutal massacre of little children and their teachers in Uvalde—the absurdity of the anti-critical race theory campaign and of the efforts to frighten parents about “pedophile teachers” grooming children to be transgender. These are phony propaganda ploys meant to undermine public schools, where dedicated teachers are doing their best to educate children every day. Someone is paying to frighten parents, and we can guess who.

Just when you thought that the attack on public schools couldn’t get more bizarre and extreme, along comes rightwing provocateur Glenn Beck with an outrageous slander against the public schools of North Carolina.

In this linked video, Beck asserts that public schools are “grooming” little children to become transgender. You will see him present “documents,” but the pieces of paper do not identify any school or district. They supposedly ask children as young as kindergarten to identify their gender and to check which gender they were assigned at birth.

Leaving aside the inconvenient fact that most children in kindergarten could not read the “documents,” they appear to be a fraud.

I contacted a friend in North Carolina who is a statewide parent leader and asked her if she knew of any district that used such a survey. She had never seen it before, never heard of it, but said that Glen Beck’s video is being distributed widely among concerned parents.

If you are a parent in North Carolina, ask for evidence. Speak to your child’s teacher. Speak to the principal. Determine whether this video is true or a hoax. Given the source, I’ll bet it’s a hoax.

“Public Schools First NC” is a parent-led advocacy group that supports that state’s public schools. It reports that Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has proposed significant increases in funding for the public schools. This may be a struggle because the state’s legislature, the General Assembly, is controlled by conservative Republicans who take every opportunity to hurt public schools and help charters and vouchers.

On Wednesday (5/11) Governor Cooper released his recommended budget for 2022-23, Building on Success.

With the legislative short session starting on May 18, Governor Cooper’s budget sets out his priorities for spending updates for the upcoming 2022-2023 budget. He is recommending adjustments to the two-year budget passed last fall to help remedy many of the shortfalls left by the previous budget. These recommendations show a commitment to investing in our children, our educators, and our communities at a level that will truly benefit all North Carolinians.

In the previous budget, much of the education spending was non-recurring. Governor Cooper’s new budget recommendations address this problem clearly: “The constitutional mandate to provide a sound basic education requires stable, recurring funding. The Governor’s FY 2022-23 Recommended Budget uses General Fund and lottery receipts to fully-fund Year Three of the Comprehensive Remedial Plan and the nonrecurring Year Two items not funded in SL 2021-180.”

NC is in a good financial position, with an expected $4.2 billion more in revenue this year and an additional $2 billion more next year than projected. The proposed budget allocates a portion of the surplus but leaves more than $1.5 billion unallocated, which will likely satisfy even the most fiscally conservative legislators.

Included in the new spending are dollars for teachers, teacher preparation, early childhood education, low-performing schools, and pathways to college and career. Here are the details:

  • $33.1 M: Develops a skilled educator pipeline and builds educator and principal capacity.
  • $370.1M: Provides fair and equitable distribution of financial resources.
  • $19.9 M: Supports low-performing schools and districts.
  • $89.7 M: Expands access to high-quality early childhood education for children from birth to age five.
  • $13 M: Creates a guided pathway from high school to postsecondary education and career opportunities.

Investments in these priorities are expected to have the following impacts:

  • Ensure all teachers receive at least a 7.5% raise over the biennium.
  • Support up to 535 additional Teaching Fellows with forgivable loans.
  • Provide up to 97,500 students with no co-pay, free school meals.
  • Increase NC Pre-K reimbursement rates by 19%, and administrative reimbursement rates from 6% to 10%.
  • Expand Smart Start services statewide and strengthen the Early Intervention program with increased staffing and professional development.
  • Expand the Child Care WAGE$ program statewide to improve pay for early childhood educators.

In the upcoming legislative session, the General Assembly will decide whether or not to adopt Governor Cooper’s budget. We urge you to contact your legislator to express support for this much-needed budget adjustment. NC has the funds; there’s no good reason not to invest in our state’s future.

Don’t Miss This Event!

Thursday, May 19 at 7:00 PM

Donald Cohen, author of The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back, & Timothy Tyson, author of The Blood of Emmet Till & Blood Done Signed My Namediscuss

Make a tax-deductible donation of $50 to support our work (we really appreciate your help!) and we will include a copy of Cohen’s book. Books can be mailed to your home or picked up & signed at the event: Donate Here

Hunt LibraryNCSU, Partners Way – Raleigh, NC 27606

Free event but registration is required.

Get your tickets here.