Selected readings on US charter schools
Charter schools began opening in North Carolina in 1997, a year after they were authorized by the state legislature. According to the original law, written in 1996, charter schools were intended to operate independently from existing schools so they could “increase learning opportunities for all students”; “encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods”; and “provide parents and students with expanded choices” in schools.
Simply put, charter schools are public schools with fewer regulations. Anyone can attend a charter school tuition-free, even if they don’t live in the county where the charter school is located, but transportation is typically not provided. Charter schools don’t receive funds for construction, and they’re operated by private boards.
The first charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina opened three years later. Charter Day School in Leland and Cape Fear Center for Inquiry in Wilmington, both of which serve kindergarten through eighth-grade students, opened in 2000. Wilmington Preparatory Academy, which also serves students from kindergarten to eighth grade, opened in Wilmington in 2007.
The original law capped the number of charter schools in the state at 100. But a 2011 bill changed that, removing the cap completely. Since then, 155 groups have filed applications, and 27 new charter schools have opened. Wilmington, for example, has doubled its number of charter schools since the cap was lifted. Island Montessori Charter School and Douglass Academy both opened in the county this fall.
In the 2011-12 school year, 2 percent of New Hanover County’s public school population attended a charter school. In Brunswick County, 5 percent of the public school population attended a charter school. Less than 1 percent of Pender County’s public school population attended a charter school.
Applications to open a charter school next year are due to the state Board of Education on Dec. 6.
Source: Star News Online – by Pressley Baird