In January 2014, more than 40 North Carolina education leaders came together to consider the challenges and opportunities of the expanding charter sector. A new report from Self-Help, the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, and Public Impact details their thoughts and recommendations from the convening and subsequent discussions, including ways district and charter leaders can work collaboratively to foster innovation and share resources and methods to benefit all North Carolina students.
The report, North Carolina Charter Schools: Excellence and Equity through Collaboration, looks at policies and outcomes around the state’s charter application and approval process and the oversight and measurement of charter school performance, and includes recommendations to improve charter authorizing practices and increase accountability. It also also addresses equity and funding issues that exacerbate distrust between districts and charter schools and examines ways in which the two sectors may work together to improve opportunities for all students to attend charter schools and to increase charter schools’ access to district resources that would enhance their ability to serve all types of students.
- Emphasize quality over competition, with clear charter performance standards and , consequences for failing charter schools and expansion oppportunities for high-performing charters, and collaboration between districts and charters to focus on students whose needs are not being met.
- Find ways to bridge the divide between charters and district schools, including future convenings, charter-district collaborative efforts funded through a pilot program, and improved application, authorizing, and oversight practices.
- Ensure that all students have fair access to all public school options, possibly through common enrollment applications, weighted lotteries, charter-district partnerships, and a funding focus on high-performing charter schools that are racially and socio-economically diverse.