Chapel Hill and Carrboro - Call the Superintendent's Office Today

If you care about education in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools I urge you to take action TODAY.  We are not opposed to parents and students having more options for their education but the financial impact that this charter would make on the district would be devastating. The following text is directly from an email I sent this morning to Dr. Forcella and all school board members.


 Dr. Forcella,

It may not be true that the school district has no input on the approval of the application for charter.  We have made contact with a wonderful woman in Michigan who has been battling charter schools in her area and the sometimes dismal performance of National Heritage Academies since 1999. 

Because this is on the FastTrack the district has to act quickly.  We cannot do this from our end as it has to come from the school district.  All of the new proposed charter schools waited until the last minute to file so as NOT to have any opposition.  
The reason we know of this is that someone within the organization brought us in on the conversation thinking that we (Suepinda, I and the NAACP) would be for it. We are wholly against it as it will NOT meet the needs of the children it proposes to serve. They cannot single out African American and Latino students, it will siphon off much needed dollars from our school district, and by design (no transportation, no Title 1) will serve only those who have the means to arrive to school on time.

If you want to decimate this school district you will do nothing. I cannot stress this any more ardently.  We stand to lose up to $4 million dollars in the first year with the approval of this charter.

I am not sure if you have a Dec. 2 deadline or a Jan. 1 deadline  to send the LEA opposition statement but it is most likely Dec 2.  
It appears that the State Board approved a "Fast Track" process for those applications that were held back last year because of the cap.  In the following link you will find 27 applications all listed as part of the "fast track" which includes the NHA charter.  Many of the applications I pulled up actually state that it is a fast track application, not so with the NHA one but it is included here.  Normally an appoved application must take a year to prepare before opening.   The deadlines have been modified to get these schools thru the approval process quicker so they may have additional time to get ready for next fall opening.  So the Dec. 2 deadline applies to these applications for LEA Impact Statements.  That is THIS FRIDAY.   TOMORROW.
A phone call to verify this might be wise since the application received in your LEA doesn't state it is "Fast Track" but it is on the list.  You wouldn't want to miss a deadline.  Did the district get some kind of cover letter letting them know of their rights and timeline?  The fast track applications actually include the Timeline page in their application. 
Please let me know that you have received this, read it and whether the district plans to act upon it.

We are continuing our campaign to fight this but without the school district making its impact statement it will surely happen.  The taxpayers of this community need to know what's going on. A community conversation needs to be had about this issue and why the interested parties feel that it needs a charter school. They have designed it so there will not be.



Thanks so much for your vigilance and hard work on this, Kevin. I comepletely share your concern about charter schools draining both resources and innovation from our public schools. 

Public schools are hardly known for innovation. And there are a lot of charter schools that aren't performing so well, just as the public schools leave a lot to be desired. We need decentralized community schooling. The public school system has traditionally been very defensive about alternatives. We shouldn't toss the concept of charter schools out the window just because of the flawed way they've been handled so far.

As stated in my first paragraph:We are not opposed to parents and students having more options for their education but the financial impact that this charter would make on the district would be devastating. If you follow the money, understand the methodology of the managing corporation and read the application you will come to realize that in this instance your tax dollars, mine and everyone else's goes to the pockets of National Heritage Academies who is making millions off of schools in Michigan and North Carolina while providing no better level of instruction than our average performing school districts.The fact that in Chapel Hill/Carrboro we have one of the better performing school districts in the state and also in the country you see this simply as an attempt for NHA to raise their statistics (which are not stellar. Did you know that 4 of 5 charter schools run by NHA have not met AYP?) off the backs of our high performing students. Reread the article, please. No required Title 1 students, no required transportation means only one thing. A publicly funded, low diversity private school that will do nothing to eliminate the achievement gap. Which is the second primary reason given for starting the charter.  ~ kvn

Motivated by doing what is right for children!

 From your last thread: 

"Moral focus was the term used by NHA to get christian based schools funded by public dollars.  This may be a stretch but I can lay bets that gay and lesbian students will NOT be allowed to attend this school."

 That's one concern I have with public taxdollars going to schools that discriminate.  Especially when you hear about a kid getting kicked out school and running away from home like happened in Charlotte a year or two ago.  And this point from this thread too:

"publicly funded, low diversity private school that will do nothing to eliminate the achievement gap."

 I think there is potential for innovation with private schools, but if they're getting any public funds they should be subject to certain standards of fairness and inclusion.

No school should discriminate in any way, shape or form, regardless of its funding stream. Period.

What I would rather see is a way to incorporate the innovation and decentralization of charters schools into public schools so we can all benefit. I see charters as a financial and intellectual drain on the schools, which just drives more people away from public schools in a self-reinforcing cycle that ends with public schools that no-one wants to attend. 

The school board has been invited to visit the KIPP school in Gaston.  I'm very interested in going precisely because we should learn from great charters and apply those lessons to the larger audience districts reach. But there are too few great charters and adding new ones doesn't mean we're actually improving anything, whereas we know CHCCS will be different going forward (new superintendent), so I am focused on making our district schools as great as possible.The other issue with this proposal is the management organization they chose is for-profit, which means there will by definition be less resources available to students than in district schools.

I was at a conference some months ago and got to listen to some seniors and from the principal at KIPP in Gaston and was very, very impressed. Parents need to agree to certain rules, but the school provides transportation, unlike many charters. They also provide meals for qualifying students and a lot of their students qualify. Their hours are longer and the teachers are very available to students. 100% of their students last year received college scholarships as I recall. That said, they do their own research so some people question the validity of some of their numbers. Durham Public Schools have Montessori magnet programs. They started with one school (Morehead) some years ago. Parents demanded that they convert another school to a Montessori magnet and then that they start a Montessori middle school. This initiative came from the ground up, not from the administration. Still, in the end admin was responsive to the parents.Charter schools are neither good nor bad anymore than public schools. I have seen well run public, private and charter schools and poorly run ones. Neither the funding stream nor the administrative structure predicts a well run or poorly run school. One advantage that a smaller school has is that if the community and administration are so inclined, innovation and experiementation can happen quickly. That is huge. I don't know anything about this particular organization, but the "moral" curriculum gives me pause. I would guess that the sky is not falling, and I would bet the CH Superintendent is correct in stating that this is not the local school district's call. 

In a fit of insanity I actually tried to start a small school which was in existence throughout the 2008/2009 school year in Saxapahaw.  There was a charter school in the same building, and at least from my humble experience people have a hugely distorted sense of the difficulty of running a school.  All of the examples I've seen of schools that have higher performance all have reduced class sizes, or the ability to pick who gets in, or any number of rules that won't work for everyone.If someone has an idea they think will work better, why not contact the school board and try to make that change, or if that doesn't fly, convince your neighbors its a great idea and get elected to the school board. 

The issue, to me, isn't whether charter schools are better or worse than public schools. It's a matter of how we provide the best education for a diverse population of children. The local charter schools have been relatively successful, but if they had to educate all children in the district instead of picking and choosing their student population it would be an altogether different situation. There are kids who cannot succeed in the general population. That's where the charters have been successful and that's why I support a limited use of the charter model, but fear the American tendency toward excess.

Left the school board meeting this evening which ended early, quite surprisingly. Correction on the dollar figure. The $10 thousand figure is an overall number. Real dollars run just under $5 thousand per student.  So, not the $4 million hit the first year as I thought earlier, just half that. By the time they ramp up to K-8 that number will be closer to the original figure. Also, all school districts have been extended a deadline of Dec 12. It was not publicly announced but all affected LEA's should have received a letter this week explaining the extension. The CHCCS Superintendent's Office will prepare an impact statement to the NC DPI.  ~ kvn

Motivated by doing what is right for children!

 'We have made contact with a wonderful woman in Michigan who has been battling charter schools in her area and the sometimes dismal performance of National Heritage Academies since 1999.' Wow. powerful language. I wonder how many citizens have been battling often dismal performance public schools since their decline in the 70's? It's all about the money...Which as everyone the cure for any public school problem...right up's time for more money.Money.. and who controls it, and keeping competiton's fingers out of the pie. The fear here is not the Failure of NHA, it is the Fear of their success as that strengthens the ligitimacy of shared funds which results in increased loss of control for those entrenched in the system  Weakness is provocative.
"One of the most noble things you can do is kill the enemy."-Maj. Douglas Zembiec

We're not talking about a dismal performance of a public school in this instance, are we? We're talking about Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools. A top district in the nation.

The bold face fact is that NHA in 3 of 4 schools they manage cannot perform better than the STATE in which they made claims that they could. In addition, the 3 schools FAILED to meet Average Yearly Progress (AYP).  Not to add to the fact that where they want to put the charter is in a district that far outperforms the state.

My position is that the district and parents of this community failed the African American and Latino students which opened the door to this extremely stupid idea of a charter school here.

For over 19 years the district had the opportunity to bring all students to the highest levels and they showed it wasn't as important as adding more honors and AP courses. Now, as quotes go, the chicken has come home to roost and we have to fight back a corporate machine hell bent on stripping dollars from all of us while pretending to do a BETTER job. Give me a BREAK! If they can't touch the state in improving on education they have no chance of doing it here.  Unless, of course, they syphon away top students from the district and from other districts that can afford to travel.Thereby not even pretending to meet the charter under which they CLAIM to be under and address - The Achievement Gap.

We don't need a charter school in the district. We need to give the NEW superintendent a chance to do his work. powerful language.  And
so is NOT and ALMOST and DIDN'T. Because we're not talking about a
dismal public school performance from Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools,
are we?  We're talking about a district that is ranked very high in the
state.Contrast that with the performance of the NHA managed
schools which DIDN'T make Average Yearly Progress (AYP) for 3 of their 4
schools.My position is that the district and parents of this
community let the African American and Latino student down for the last
19 years by adding honors and AP courses to the curriculum while not
bringing all levels of achievement up. They set the stage for the
request for this charter school.As the saying goes, the chickens
have come home to roost. Leaving us to battle this corporate behemoth in
order to keep taxpayer dollars in the schools the taxpayer's children
attend. It is not the fear of NHA's success that motivates those
who oppose this school because they have YET to prove they can
accomplish their goals. But in their dismal performance, our children's
programs will suffer due to a lack of funding from the state that will
go to the profit making NHA. If the school district buys a building the
district owns it. NHA purchases land and builds a building they own it.
We pay for it. Continuously, ad infinitim. That's their model.Their
charter is to close the achievement gap. By law charter schools are
open enrollment. Those they profess in their desire to reach need either
transportation or free and reduced lunches (I would say a majority, if
not all) and NHA provides neither. Open enrollment also means that
anyone who can reach the school can attend. Therefore, once NHA/Howard
& Lillian Lee School reach their required 70 African American
students and 70 Latino students the rest of the slots are up for grabs to the first takers.
How's that for hiding the facts?  If that's not a publicly funded
private school I don't know what is. We need to give the NEW
superintendent time to do the work he came here to do and that's raise
all achievement levels of all students.   ~ kvn

Motivated by doing what is right for children!

Keep waiting for superman.Weakness is provocative.
"One of the most noble things you can do is kill the enemy."-Maj. Douglas Zembiec


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