Pro-Voucher Group in N.C. Sees Backlash in Rural Charter Schools Effort

By Diette Courrégé Casey — June 24, 2013 2 min read

The North Carolina group hoping to increase the state’s rural charter schools is being criticized by traditional and rural school advocates who say their efforts will hurt existing schools.

We reported on the pro-voucher group Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina last month and described its proposal to create the N.C. Public Charter School Accelerator program, which would help schools navigate the charter-approval process and provide support once a school was established.

The push back launched into high gear when the House recently unveiled its latest budget proposal that would give the group nearly $1 million over two years. Apparently, that provision didn’t exist in the Senate or governor’s proposed budgets, according to a blog post by N.C. Policy Watch

The money would fund $100,000 grants for schools in rural counties that trail the state in student achievement, and the parent group would have to provide $1 million before receiving any state money.

Parents for Educational Freedom also is involved in the controversial campaign to allow private school vouchers in the state.

Public Schools First NC, which opposes vouchers, wrote a piece for The High Country Press in Boone, N.C., saying the House budget provision would “devastate” traditional rural public schools by diverting resources to unproven charter schools.

“It is critical to understand the root causes of problems in rural areas,” wrote Yevonne Brannon, who chairs Public Schools First NC. “Programs that bring in outside competition to try and solve issues closely linked to poverty will not address student success. What our traditional public schools need are real resources, not divisive competition.”

The group contends that the rural charter schools are being funded to put traditional schools out of business, and that the money is being given without a competitive-bid process to ensure the group awarded the money can do the work effectively.

In North Carolina, 85 of the state’s 100 counties are rural, and only 37 of those have charter schools.

The situation has attracted the attention of Doris Williams, who leads one of the most vocal national rural education advocacy groups, the Rural School and Community Trust. She supports the position of Public Schools First NC on this issue and explained why in its piece for The High Country Press.

“Rural school districts have long known their fundamental challenge is a lack of local wealth to devote to their schools,” she wrote. “Since rural districts sued the state in 1995, their children’s right to a sound basic education has been upheld in two N.C. Supreme Court rulings. However, our state legislature has continuously failed to provide adequate and equitable funding of rural schools to secure that right. This provision doesn’t get to the root of the problem and will most assuredly widen the equity gap in the N.C. education system.”

Parents for Educational Freedom responded with a statement from its president, Darrell Allison, which said the status quo only serves institutions, not children. The group’s effort would leverage existing expertise, and charter schools can be shut down for failing to meet its goals, he said in a statement.

“A strong public education system is not a school building or any sort of governing body, but an entity that, regardless of the model, benefits the public by meeting the needs of every student,” he wrote.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
Speech Therapist - Long Term Sub
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read