Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2014 charter schools: Ready or not?

About half the 27 N.C. charter schools that got approval to open in August already have plenty of students signed up,  but some of the rest are struggling,  according to a recent report to the N.C. Charter School Advisory Board.

All schools must file a "ready to open" report by the end of May; the goal is to ensure that all have enrollment, buildings and academic plans lined up to be ready for a solid August opening. But the April status report indicates some have a long way to go in the final stretch.  (Go here and click "Ready to Open Report" for details.)

Thirteen schools already had at least 90 percent of their projected enrollment by the end of April,  the report indicates.  Those include Bradford Preparatory School  (1,531 applications for 404 seats),  Pioneer Springs Community School  (323 applications for 176 seats),  Thunderbird Preparatory School  (798 applications for 488 seats)  and United Community School  (181 applications for 216 seats)  in the Charlotte area.  United, Bradford and Pioneer Springs also had leases signed as of the last report.

Charlotte-area schools in the yellow zone were Carolina STEM Academy  (76 percent full,  lease signed) and  Entrepreneur High (73 percent full,  no lease).

Those below 60 percent at the end of April were ACE Academy  (54 percent, lease signed), Charlotte Learning Academy (34 percent,  no lease),  Concrete Roses STEM Academy  (49 percent,  no lease) and Commonwealth High (no lease and only eight students signed up for 224 spots).  Stewart Creek High,  operated by the same management company as Commonwealth and catering to the same at-risk high school crowd,  is one of two schools statewide that has requested permission to delay a year.


Anonymous said...

Just because someone applies doesn't mean they will show in August.....does anyone from the state actually go and make a count? Could a devious thinking person make up names to collect money? Since for profit companies are running these schools it seems the first priority is to bring in maximum revenue. As we saw with student first, the state oversight of these charters is almost nil.

Wiley Coyote said...

What's interesting is that if you look at the numbers in the third paragraph of applications versus seats, there were more kids waiting for seats than the enrollment increase in CMS this year.

CMS had an enrollment increase of 1,441 students and 1,549 students were waitlisted for the charters in the paragraph.

2,833 students for 1,284 seats.

CMS should take note that many parents are doing whatever they can to get out of their failing system.

Of course if the fox guarding the hen house bill goes through, then all of this will be a moot point.

Larry said...

I know from what I read in the observer, if I were in one of these struggling neighborhoods, I would not sign up for a Charter School.

Anonymous said...

It seems like there are two broad categories of charter schools - 1. those that cater to the entire population and 2. those that cater mostly to minorities. An example of this is KIPP Charlotte, where almost every student is a minority.

I suspect there's a lot more demand for the first category of charters because these schools appeal to a wider range of students. Maybe the Observer won't cover this part of the story out of fear of bringing up race.

Anonymous said...

Wake up Larry……Wiley…….Shamash. We need to know that institutionally deep seated hidden meaning in all of this?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, 8:38 -- Larry and Wiley were awake and commenting and I was just slow to post.

Shamash said...

"Wake up Larry……Wiley……Shamash"

(I'm like Beetlejuice. Maybe I'll appear on the third call...)

But I'm not a big proponent or opponent of Charters.

I figure they're either sink or swim.

But at least the ones which can't swim get to sink.

I just want bad schools (and all that support them) to go away, both traditional CMS school and Charters.

I know some incompetent fools run and work at both.

So I want better oversight of Charters, too.

They don't get a free pass in my book just because they're an "alternative".

Especially those which are run by known criminals (or ex-criminals).

Which DOES happen.

But at least the Charter schools DO get closed when they are mis-managed long enough.

And that's a good thing.

Also, the "profit" motive doesn't bother me.

Plenty of people "profit" from government bureaucracies, too.

But they get a guaranteed "survival of the unfittest".

Because we almost NEVER close them down.

Wiley Coyote said...

I set my alarm to Ann's blog post each morning....

Anonymous said...

I happen to know that the Bradford Preparatory School has not even broken ground on their school. So my question is, what exactly do they have a lease on, and how are they on track for a solid opening just 2.5 months from now? What kind (and quality) of building will these kids be in when the school year starts?

Anonymous said...

Ha! Wiley, the question is what song you'd use for a ringtone/alarm to announce the arrival of a new post. I'm sure a certain Elton John song would come to mind for some folks :-)

Anonymous said...

Before posting, someone of you should do your homework. With the exception of United, all the filled schools are all in Northern Mecklenburg county. You don't have to own a building. Thunderbird leased a building that was previously used by another school and it is being refurbished until a new school can be built. Also, my own child, a former CMS student,attends a for profit child and it is awesome! They monitor everything and keep the budget straight. They also order books and make sure the curriculum is what is required for state and common core. The biggest problem with anyone reading the info listed in The Charlotte Observer is the lack of knowledge about charter schools and education in the sad state of North Carolina.

Wiley Coyote said...

Tiny Dancer?

Actually it's the Layla opening guitar riff.....

Anonymous said...

I have said and question the same thing 11:05. Why isn't the Observer doing a intricate look into why so many charters are popping up in North Charlotte and asking CMS what they are doing in competition against this. They have changed nothing except maybe added a TD program in Mallard Creek and a Montessori (which not all parents want). CMS is losing the fight with their tactic to cater to the less educated children and dumbing down the classes. This alone has lend to the cascading exodus away from CMS in north Charlotte. CMS needs to learn real quick that to change the school atmosphere in north charlotte they need to stop dumbing down the classes to cater to the kids who have parents (or more likely parent) that doesn't care or value education. Parents are fed up!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with this comment:

"The biggest problem with anyone reading the info listed in The Charlotte Observer is the lack of knowledge about charter schools and education in the sad state of North Carolina."

The fact is, anytime Anne Helms mentions a charter school, she is attacked, pure and simple. In most cases I have found her coverage of education to be fair and balanced, she allows the reader to draw their own conclusions about charter schools. I have yet to see her give her opinion in opposition or support for charter schools.

what I find most troubling about the discussion around public education is the role that parents play or lack of parents would be more apt. While CMS has their issues, they cannot be held accountable for the breakdown of family values within communities all across the CMS district. Struggling schools are merely a symptom of the moral decay we have seen over the last 25 years or so.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 10:13,
I have wondered the same thing with regards to Bradford Prep. If you visit their website, they state the reason for the delay in breaking ground was due to the city of Charlotte holding up their building permit, go figure.

I don't see how their facilities will be ready in time, but you never know.

with regards to CMS, not so sure they can reverse this trend. They are following the same pattern we see across the country with large urban school districts.

Anonymous said...

1:40 You got that right. We took our two boys out of CMS and they are doing great, and surrounded by "good" kids now.

Anonymous said...

Well said 1:40pm

Anonymous said...

You are who you hang with. I don't blame CMS. They are not the cause of family decay. Politicians and courts have been chewing away at public schools for decades. It's almost impossible to expel a student. CMS has already had their hand slapped for suspending to many students. Is CMS to big? Yes!! Do they get to call all the shots? NO.. As soon as the federal government and the court system got involved in public education, the under taker started making the coffin. Schools are asked to do to much. Teachers should teach and students should learn.

Unknown said...


Until the lifting of the 100 charter school limit, the CMS Boards had little reason to change its policies. It felt a lot of safety in a segregated school system that was allowed to have whole ZIPCODES that were failing and others that were headed for the North Carolina university system.

Now, the growing threats of northern Mecklenburg charters have the Board seeking some new directions. Unfortunately, all those policies amount to are the busing of more children out of their neighborhoods. Is giving-up on neighborhoods sound education policy?

CMS has a name for this new policy. It is “Choice.” Like President Obama’s claim on healthcare, “If you don’t like your old school, you can change it; it is hardly something that instills confidence in the families who have to remain at the old school…and then attend the later schools they feed to.

Nothing will stop the Board’s obsession with “Choice” short of being able to say that all 140,000 students have it. That is sad and it’s mathematically impossible. Yet, that is the only alternative the Board seems to have to fight Charters…except if it would redouble its effort to make sound, safe neighborhood schools the first and best choice for all CMS families.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...


Which way do you want it?

CMS did everything it could to continue busing into the late 90's until Judge Potter ruled otherwise.

He said the district had a "single-minded focus on racial diversity" that viewed students not as children but as "cogs in a social experimentation machine."

You're talking as if CMS is returning to that policy calling it "choice" yet you prefer that kids have neighborhood schools within the very zipcodes the diversity crowd abhors.

So which is it? Which way do we go? Choice? Busing?

You can't have it both ways.

How about CMS put a product in place in EVERY school that gives EVERY child the OPPORTUNITY to succeed?

I've said it 100 times and will probably say it another 100 times that 2+2=4 in every school and that will never change, not within a zipcode, a school that is 100% minority or 50/50 or whether the poverty rate is 100% or 0%.

One mathematical percentage people keep ignoring is the decline of White kids in CMS.

Pretty soon, the achievement gap will be a moot point and someone will finally have an "uh oh" moment and say "what do we do now?"...

Anonymous said...

Wiley makes some very valid points, as does Bolyn. From my perspective though, I believe CMS is going to continue on a downward spiral. My reasoning is simple, look at the quality of the children attending most CMS schools. Teachers are neither social workers or miracle workers.

I both admire and feel for public school teaches for you are very special people!

Shamash said...


"So which is it? Which way do we go? Choice? Busing?"

You are thinking too much like a rational person with a limited budget.

Think like a bureaucrat with an ever-expanding budget.


Just bus the kids to the school of their choice.

That way, your transportation budget can grow to meet the "needs of the community".

In fact, you can run multiple bus routes for kids who are on "alternative" schedules due to their circadian rhythms and whether or not it's a "test day" or special hours for extra-curricular activities.

And, of course, it's ALL "for the children".

With a bottomless trough of public money, anything is possible.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, when I said Northern Mecklenburg county I never said North Charlotte. Northern Mecklenburg is Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville. This is the area of largest migration and where charter schools have been and will continue to be the most successful. It's the atmosphere of the area. Instead of waiting around for what CMS will do. A group of people over 10 years ago decided to do it themselves. It was the bold move by a school, Community School of Davidson that set a standard for any charter school opening in this area. Failure is not an option. Parents all over this area got behind that movement and asked, "Where can my child get a better education and How can I help?" Whether it's CSD, Langtree, PLP, Lake Norman Charter, or our new friends at Thunderbird or Pioneer Springs we all want the same thing. We want something better for our children. We want a choice! That's the different. CMS can't give us that.

Anonymous said...

so who are the people complaining about the late school times? The only buses running late in the south Charlotte area are the Magnet school buses, which the parents choose for their child.