Charlotte Observer columnist Jack Betts provides much needed context to the charter school debate:
Proposals to raise the cap each year were advanced but those who thought charters threatened traditional public schools managed to block bills that would allow a half dozen or more new charter schools to get underway each year. The Observer’s editorial department came to the view in 2006 that it would be better to raise the number modestly but regularly rather than allow pent-up demand to fester and deprive a growing number of students of the charter opportunity.
So when Wake Republican Sen. Richard Stevens sponsored his charter school bill this year in the Senate to do away with the charter cap entirely and make a number of other changes, including making charters eligible for more public funds that traditional schools also get, Democrats were aghast. I had concerns about parts of the bill, particularly on governance, but I also thought what Democrats were getting was nothing more than a natural reaction to years of inability of Republicans to get basic concessions on the number of schools.
Last year, the NC General Assembly failed to pass a bill that would have raised the charter school cap by six schools. Six schools! Is it any wonder that the charter school community feels a sense of urgency in getting a comprehensive charter school bill passed this year?