North Carolina charter schools made the news last week with a pair of reports with vastly different viewpoints.
A report from the John Locke Foundation, a conservative Raleigh think tank, said that 150 traditional schools across the state would be forced to close if the State Board of Education extended new charter school performance standards to all public schools. In the Wake County school system, that would include three regular schools and one alternative school.
The Locke Foundation argues that it's unfair to hold charter schools to stricter standards than traditional public schools. New standards for charter schools say they can be shut down if for two of three consecutive years they don't meet or exceed 'expected growth' in test scores and have an overall performance composite score of less than 60 percent.
On the flip side of the Locke Foundation report, is one from a liberal group that's critical of charter schools.
The report from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA "found that charter schools continue to stratify students by race, class, and possibly language, and are more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every state and large metropolitan area in the country."
The UCLA report called charter schools "a civil rights failure."
While the pattern wasn't as severe as in the Midwest, the report found that charter schools in North Carolina and the Triangle are more racially stratified than traditional public schools.
Schools like Raleigh Charter High and Magellan Charter have far lower percentages of minority students than the Wake school system. Charters like Hope Elementary and Torchlight Academy have far higher percentages of minority students than the Wake school system.
In the middle of all this is a new Wake County school board majority that's more sympathetic toward charter schools than its predecessors.