Tuesday, September 10, 2013

No slowdown in Charlotte-area charter interest

I'm starting to sound like a broken record:  Mecklenburg County again dominates the state in charter-school interest,  based on letters of intent to seek charters for 2015-16.  The N.C. Office of Charter Schools got 170 letters by Friday's deadline,  and 43 were for Mecklenburg. Another 20 were for surrounding counties; charters can take students across county lines.

Next highest was Wake with 20,  then Durham and Guilford with 12 each.

That doesn't mean that many new schools will open,  of course.  This is just the first step in a long process.  Full applications are due Dec. 6.  They'll be reviewed by a charter school advisory board,  with the state Board of Education making the final decision about which will be approved for state,  local and federal money.  The state got 156 letters of intent for 2014 charters,  with 70 full applications that were eventually whittled to the 26 that just won approval. Eleven of those are in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties.

Students at Invest Collegiate, a charter that opened in uptown Charlotte in August
The big question is why the Charlotte region is spawning so much interest in charters,  which are alternative public schools run by independent boards.  Critics of CMS say it's dissatisfaction with district schools,  which still serve about 80 percent of the county's school-age children.  School board Chairman Mary McCray disagrees.  She noted that CMS already offers many of the themes that charter schools are touting,  from math-science magnets to credit-recovery programs for at-risk teens.

"They are basing their themes on us,"  McCray said.  "It's not like we're copying them."

Eddie Goodall of Union County,  a former state senator who now heads the N.C. Public Charter Schools Association,  theorizes that it boils down to risk and reward.  There are plenty of potential students in Charlotte and its suburbs,  while less densely populated areas pose a bigger risk of failing to draw enough students to survive.  Meanwhile,  counties that provide more for their local school district also channel a per-pupil share when students go to charters,  making the potential reward richer in Mecklenburg than in poorer rural counties.

Probably true  --  but it still doesn't explain why the densely populated Triangle area,  with all its higher education, high-tech and government resources,  isn't spawning a similar level of would-be school entrepreneurs.


Anonymous said...

Anne - Why do you thing there are no charter schools in what most people consider South Charlotte?

Wiley Coyote said...

Wake County - 49.10% White

CMS - 32% White.

Maybe that has something to do with it.

Anonymous said...

When everything else seems the same between two groups (CMS and wake) to the PC educrats, look for the politically incorrect obvious.

Maybe there is just more to get away from at CMS.

I wonder if thuggery per capita has anything to do with the difference?

From http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/research/discipline/reports/consolidated/2011-12/consolidated-report.pdf

CMS Short term Suspensions = 37464
Wake Short term Suspensions = 14223

Table S4 - Grades 9-13 Short term suspensions and Suspension Rates (per 100 students) - see page 92

CMS = 49.16
Wake = 15.85

Interestingly, though Wake exceeds CMS in the number of LONG TERM Suspensions.


So MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, Wake is better at getting the riff-raff out of the schools long term rather than going soft on the repeat, repeat offenders.

I didn't see consolidated data on charter schools, but saw lots of zeros in their tables.

A comparison of suspension rates sure would be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, Anons...

How many elephants can CMS fit into a room?

Elephants? What elephants?

Wiley Coyote said...


Facts are curious things.....

Anonymous said...

More on Crime and Violence in Schools.

Comparing Wake and CMS schools vs charters in both counties...


Consolidated Data Reports 2011-2012

Crime and Violence Table C5 2011-2012

Total Number of Acts for each LEA

Acts per 1000 students...


For Charter schools in Wake the average is below 1.0 per 1000.

For Charter schools in CMS it is also below 1.0 per 1000 with two glaring major exceptions:

Kennedy Charter 14.286 per 1000
Community Charter 11.561 per 1000

Maybe there's enough smoke here to start looking for a fire?

Anonymous said...


And sometimes the facts are just so obvious that they are easy to overlook.

For SOME people.

Especially those who have been blinded by the beacon of political correctness.

I know EXACTLY what would lead me to put my children in a Charter school.

So why can't the educrats figure out what probably EVERY parent with kids in a Charter school could easily tell them?

Maybe they don't listen? Or even ask?

Wiley Coyote said...


When CMS allows a kid to remain in middle school after being suspended 13 times because "he was angry", pretty much tells you all you need to know and supports your facts regarding short and longterm suspensions.

I looked at it awhile back and if my memory is correct, CMS had 186,000 suspensions with no expulsions a year or so ago.

Anonymous said...

"Charlotte Observer," there's a difference between pseudonyms and false representation, however transparent. I've got no problem with you posting your views on charters and CMS. I'd think you'd be OK using your own name; I believe you've run for office on those views. But if you're not, there are still plenty of Looney Tunes characters up for grabs :-)

Wiley Coyote said...


For what it is worth said...

Listen to a few teachers around here and you will quickly learn of incompetent administrators, urban pressure at the superintendent level, and all out defensiveness when it comes to this demographic. If you think these numbers as a couple of posters have put up make CMS look bad, what is happening in many schools is even worse. It is severely underreported.

Parents have figured out where to get their child the education they need for a good future.

Someone asked the question about the lack of charter schools in south Charlotte, it does not take a PhD to figure that out.

For what it is worth said...

The Charlotte Observer editorial staff and pulisher does this community no service.

Anonymous said...

I wish some of the new charters would follow the lead of Lake Norman Charter, which is 5th-12th grade. But, all are starting at K and only going up through 3rd or 4th grade. This doesn't help much for those with older kids who are looking for different opportunities.

Anonymous said...

Wake County still practices a desegregation policy in their public schools, where they use socioeconomic factors for school assignments. Mainly with busing and magnet schools. Unlike in Mecklenburg, the "majority" of their citizens support this diversity and are satisfied with their schools. Therefore, the market for charter AND private schools is much less than in Mecklenburg (it is all about the money). That is the major reason why Wake County has a much higher percentage of whites in the public school system than Mecklenburg. Some background: a few years ago, a newly elected school board tried to change the "diversity in education" policy in Wake County. Once implemented the citizens realized it was bad for the county as a whole and voted the board members out who were against socioeconomic diversity in schools.

Anonymous said...

Political Opinion of the Day!! Capitalism should be kept out of PUBLIC education. The Wake County program works and is better FOR ALL its citizens.

We did not have these issues with our schools prior to 1999........Never forget your history.

Wiley Coyote said...

I don't believe Wake County citizens are sitting around the diversity campfire singing Kumbaya over their school system anymore than Mecklenburg County...

Also, the use of FRL to assign students to schools is based on faulty data.

...Smaller school districts show a similarly high rate of reduced or repealed benefits. Wake County Public Schools had a nonresponse rate of 36 percent and a total reduced or repealed rate of 64 percent for its verification sample in 2007–08. Charlotte-Mecklenburg had a nonresponse rate of 31 percent and a reduced or repealed rate of 68 percent for the same school year....Educationnext 2010

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:38: Wake County's median household income is about 10,000 dollars higher than Mecklenburg County. Wake has a population that is almost 70% white as compared to 60% for Mecklenburg County. Perhaps these facts have something to do with why there is more middle class support for their school system--more middle class to populate it. I'm not sure though that you've told the whole story about what happened with the previous school board. Moral Monday Barber and his crowd had a lot to do with it all (and Barber does not even live in Wake County).

Anonymous said...

For those who are really into the Wake/CMS deseg thing, the latest issue of Education and Urban Society journal has an article on "The Life and Death of Desegregation Policy in Wake County Public School System and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools." It looks like you have to subscribe to get the full text, but here's a link:

Wiley Coyote said...

CMS...42% Black....18% Hispanic...32% White...

So...who are we "desegregating" here?

Anonymous said...

Ann-can you dig to find out if CMS paid for all the teacher at McClintock Middle to get an Ipad as well as 10 Ipads per classroom?
Is this the new norm? Because it has not hit the suburbs yet.

Anonymous said...

Socioeconomic "diversity"?

Isn't that the same as racial diversity, only couched in the politically correct language of today?

Anonymous said...

3:17, the 2013-14 budget included money to prepare McClintock for conversion to a STEM/robotics magnet and add the "Teach to One" math program, which is tech-heavy. I think the money comes from that. There was a significant chunk of state and local money planned for "technology tools for teachers" districtwide as well. (I don't want to quote numbers because I don't have the full document on the budget that passed, as opposed to the proposed plan.)

For what it is worth said...

Wiley, I've been around these people since I was at West Charlotte with my child. They are "stuck in the 60's".

3:42, dead on!

Of course if you sat in the courtroom anytime back in 1999, you quickly got the air of "revenge".

Anonymous said...

CMS administrators and any "market adjustment" folks for that matter have only ONE job to do.

HELP the front line teacher who has ALL the day to day contact with the student. They usually receive at least TWICE the salary and do NOTHING but put up OBSTACLES for the front line teacher.

How about the fact the in NYC the average person on welfare receives $40,000 is salary and benefits a year.

A year 1-6 CMS teacher receives at least $5,000 less than that. New teachers dont let the door hit you as you leave.

Anonymous said...

From 12:38 - Everything is not always about race. Socioeconomic diversity, I dare say, is almost as important. Race is used by demagogues to influence and illicit negativity and division within the ranks of the large majority of Americans who are poor and middle class. Socioeconomic diversity alleviates ignorance on both sides. It enables the "fortunate" to experience someone different than themselves which brings about a level of compassion and empathy (bad for the rich). It enables the "less fortunate" to experience things different than what they are used to and see in their neighborhoods (bad for the rich who want them "out of the way" until its time to vote, BRING ON THE NEGATIVE ADS!!). The ignorance of the middle class and poor is bliss for those in power, and they take full advantage of it. The goal is to get the government, especially the federal government out of education and society in general. If this happens those in power (the wealthy) will be able to do pretty much what they want. Less government = more opportunity to make money and gain power by exploiting the disadvantaged. Pure capitalism only works in a society where those in power value generosity, sacrifice for others, and the general welfare of its citizens. In summary, doing the right thing is always the right thing to do, even if you don't personally eat the fruits. So why did our state government allow for the proliferation of charter schools???? I made a lot of generalizations just to make a point, so please excuse.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:03pm.

Gee, are your biases showing.

So "economic diversity" is all about sticking it to THE MAN (i.e., the "rich"), eh?

And undermining capitalism, of course.

I agree that this is probably the goal, but then I always thought it was basically a "Commie Plot" from the beginning.

Thanks for verifying my suspicions.

Unfortunately, the politically correct playbook may say that "the rich" are selfish, uncaring, etc., etc., but look at who actually donates the most time and energy to charity.

And look at who's mowing each other down in the streets.

Yeah, there's a reason people run from "economic diversity" just as they ran from "racial diversity".

It's basically the same thing.

An attempt to undermine the successful in our society by hampering their growth and progress with the same problems (and problem PEOPLE!) that plague the failures of society.

Basically, though, anyone who wants to succeed is TRYING TO GET AWAY from that mess not trying to wallow in it even more.

Thus the demand for "alternative" and charter schools where they can be and are a little more selective.

Oh, and doesn't that just chap your "equal" hides?

Shamash said...

Why so many charter schools?

Here's a glimpse of our future if we don't start focusing more attention on our brightest students...

Note the phrase:

"failed by the “curse” of mixed-ability classes in state comprehensives."

H'mm. So "diversity" works, eh?

Yes, for some, but at whose expense?

Oh, just the bright kids.

But that's OK...


From the London Telegraph, 22 FEB 2013.

Bright pupils 'falling two years behind peers in Far East'

Figures show that the cleverest pupils often match the best performers in leading Far Eastern nations by the age of 10 in mathematics but then start to lose ground.

By the time they reach 16, children are the equivalent of two years behind those in counties such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, it emerged.

The study by the University of London’s Institute of Education warned that action was needed to ensure the most able pupils are able to keep pace with the highest achievers elsewhere.

The conclusions came after Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, warned that tens of thousands of bright children were had been failed by the “curse” of mixed-ability classes in state comprehensives.

Anonymous said...

From 9:03. Come on now, "sticking it to the man???" That is coming from left field. Not a "commie" plot, just my opinions based on how I was reared, other experiences and BASIC Biblical principles. And just for fyi, I am one of the "rich" AND I practice what I preach. That should not matter but by my comments the assumption probably is that I am looking for benefit.

Shamash said...

Oh yeah, forgot that link:


And even another quote:

Peter Ransom, president designate of The Mathematical Association said: “The difference globally, often relates more to culture and attitude than examination systems.

In many East Asian countries, students spend considerably more time studying, and mathematics education is regarded as something very valuable by students, teachers and parents alike.

“In the UK meanwhile, far too many people seem to regard it as acceptable to be bad at maths, an attitude that can be unintentionally reinforced by wider society. No one would dream of saying they could barely read and write yet I often hear people stating that they can barely do their times tables, without thinking of the message that this gives."


Note that it's "culture and attitude that matters".

Not testing.

So how does our "culture and attitude" measure globally.

Not very well.

And we are sinking as a nation as a result of the lowering of our standards to make the poor performers feel good.

Anonymous said...

For 8:28: No one ever said that diversity in schools means mixed ability classes. How many academic classes (honors, AP and the like) in secondary schools are mixed ability??? Pulling from the air on that one.

Anonymous said...


Not sure if you're looking for benefit or not, but your comments were definitely negative toward the rich.

Biblical or not, doesn't matter to me.

Plenty of rich people (and even people in power) do good things for others.

And "the poor" ain't necessarily saints, either.

I prefer the attitude of Deng Xiaoping (another Commie) who once said:

"To get rich is glorious".

Shamash said...

Of course AP is AP is AP.

Serving ONLY the best and brightest as designed.

No one would ever mess with AP and make it more "diverse", would they?

No one would ever wring their hands over the "performance gap" due to not having enough minorities in AP classes, would they?

Yep. No one EVER does that.


Pulling even more from the air...


Many Teachers in Advanced Placement Voice Concern at Its Rapid Growth.

Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president at the Fordham Institute, said he detected a tension within the results, given teachers’ hopes that a generally good program would not be weakened by making it too accessible.

In that respect, the findings support Fordham’s general position that the nation’s current focus on raising basic skills sometimes neglects a need for the continued growth and challenging of high-achieving students.


Yeah, I'm just making this stuff up...

Shamash said...

Oh jeez, I must be truly delusional...

Yet another report on the trend toward "mixed ability" AP classes...


“AP classes give a lot to the top students, but pouring money into the program and trying to give every student an AP education is not efficient or effective,” says Sadler.

As the AP program becomes increasingly widespread in America’s public high schools, the student demographics that it serves have shifted and rapidly expanded. More than 25 percent of public high school seniors graduating last May took at least one AP test.

The elite students the program once catered to have been joined by hundreds of thousands of students who may be less prepared for the rigors of AP course work. That means that the number of test-takers who do poorly on AP exams is growing, and some critics have begun to question the effectiveness of the program.


Gosh, where do I keep getting these crazy ideas...

It's just amazing how the educrats themselves support my most outlandish claims.

(They just don't know how to express it as politically incorrectly as I do. Probably something to do with job security...)

Shamash said...

I know our society (much like the UK in the original article I posted) doesn't care too much about math.

But, perhaps, just perhaps, if we were more "numerate" we wouldn't have situations like our recent housing meltdown.

During the boom era which preceded the meltdown HS dropouts (or even graduates) working at McDonalds thought they could pay for houses sold to them with adjustable rate mortages that would soon rise beyond their means.

Their ignorance of math made them victims (of sorts) simply because they did not understand what future increases on their zero down, negative equity, non-amortizing, adjustable rate loans would cost them in just a few years.

Now wouldn't that have been nice?

Anonymous said...

Wow!! For the most part it seems I am riding solo on this one. We are using the term "mixed ability" pretty broadly. I never said that everyone needed an AP education AND a student failing an AP test does not mean the class is "mixed ability". 25% taking at least ONE AP class means 75% take NONE throughout their high school career. 1 in 4 students taking an AP class is "trying to give all students an AP education??" So you feel that less than 1 of 4 high school students has the ability to take AN AP course? Statistics can be deadly :) Sometimes you have to get the truth out of the numbers.

Shamash said...

Well, "mixed-ability" has a specific meaning in UK education and that article, for sure.

And there is a lot of hand-wringing over the opposite approach of "putting children at a disadvantage" by locking them into separate ability groups (which we'd probably NEVER try here, at least not as blatantly as in the UK).

But, when it comes to education, you typically hear the loudest cries for the so-called "disadvantaged" and little to no cries for the "advantaged" who aren't as well served.

And, unfortunately for us, this is a disease which seems peculiar to recent developments in Western culture.

As the Asians (especially the Chinese) pretty much think it's OK to favor their high academic achievers over those with lower abilities.

But in the US, we mostly reserve our "winner take all" attitude for sports.

Which is why we remain untouchable in basketball globally, but are somewhat vulnerable in science and engineering.

For what it is worth said...

Public education has always failed the "average" student. CMS has exaggerated the problem now. So for every student project lift drags back into the picture, there are at least 3 students reaching out for help and unable to get any due to the strangling of resources at non-lift schools.

Anonymous said...

3:17 you suburban folk just gotta run around in more circles at the fun run to get those ipads you want.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but my kids have had iPads for several years now.

They don't need to run around for anything.

Not iPads, trophies, or even so-called "scholarships"...