Monthly Archives

August 2021

Governor signs bill permitting virtual instruction in 2021-22

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Yesterday, Governor Cooper signed S 654 – K-12 COVID-19 Provisions into law. S 654, now Session Law 2021-30, has numerous implications for charter operations during the 2021-22 school year. You can find the new law here.

Provisions in S 654

S 654 addresses school accountability provisions, operations, and instruction. For instance, the law allows public school units (PSUs) to provide planned virtual instruction in 2021-22. In addition, the law indicates that:

  • The State Board of Education (SBE) will not calculate achievement, growth, and performance scores, or display growth designations, letter grades, and performance scores for 2021-22, based on 2020-21 data.
  • SBE will not identify additional low-performing schools based on 2020-21 data.
  • Schools may make day-to-day decisions about virtual instruction in 2021-22 for COVID emergencies, shifting to temporary virtual instruction if necessary. Schools must notify the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) within 72 hours of making the shift.
  • School boards must vote at least once a month on mask requirements.

Planned virtual instruction

Of particular importance to charters: PSUs may now provide planned virtual instruction with consent from parents or guardians. Instruction must be consistent with virtual learning plans submitted to DPI by October 1, 2021. Specific guidance for charter leaders is coming soon from the Office of Charter Schools.

According to language in S 654, plans should provide the following information:

  • Range of grades
  • Type of virtual instruction (full-time or blended)
  • Whether virtual instruction is offered as the primary means of instruction, a school within a school, or customized to students
  • Number of students learning virtually
  • Means for identifying students learning virtually, for performance and EVAAS tracking purposes
  • Participation requirements, including eligibility and parent agreements
  • Monitoring methods for enrollment, attendance, course tracking, and more
  • Resources utilized by schools to provide virtual instruction
  • Communication methods
  • Staff roles and expectations
  • Measures to ensure learning growth
  • Infrastructure necessary to support virtual instruction
  • Methods to ensure instruction is consistent with a student’s IEP or 504 plan
  • Procedures impacting students at risk of academic failure

Read the language in full in PART IIIB. PLANNED VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION, SECTION 3B.(b) of the new law on pages 5 and 6. This authorization runs through June 30, 2022. After that date, authorization for virtual instruction must come from the NC General Assembly.

Read more about S 654 from EdNC.

Legislative updates on H 366 and H 729

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We have updates to some legislation we’ve been tracking in the General Assembly.

H 366 – Regulatory Reform Act of 2021

On Monday, Governor Cooper signed H 366/SL 2021-117 into law. This legislation includes a Coalition priority. It requires NC Pre-K operators to provide parents with information about public charter school options in the county.  This provision will now take effect January 1, 2022.

H 729 – Charter School Omnibus

Governor Cooper vetoed H 729 earlier this week. The bill addresses residency licensure as well as changes to Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB) appointments.

The Governor released this statement about his veto:

“The State Board of Education is constitutionally and statutorily charged with administering children’s education in state public schools, including charter schools. It is critical that the Board have both of their appointments to the Charter School Advisory Board to carry out its constitutional duties.”

Evidence shows charters don’t drain money from district schools

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Do public charter schools drain money from public district schools? Charter opponents claim they do. However, a 2021 study shows this isn’t true. In fact, district schools often fare better when more students attend charter schools.

The 2021 study, commissioned by the Fordham Institute, looked at independent charter schools in 21 states, including North Carolina. Researchers evaluated “the relationship between the local market share of independent charter schools and the finances of host school districts” between 2000 and 2017. In most states, researchers found that:

… an increase in the percentage of students attending independent charter schools was associated with a significant increase in their host districts’:

  • Total revenue per pupil

  • Total spending per pupil

  • Local revenue per pupil

  • Per-pupil spending on support services

In North Carolina, charter growth was linked with an increase in districts’ total revenue, spending, and per-pupil spending on support services.

California, the state with more charter schools than any other

What about California, a state that has more charter schools than any other in the U.S.? A new analysis from The 74 Million reviews this study through the lens of a new California law targeting charter growth. The intention of this bill seems to be to limit charter growth. Yet, in California, the revenue of host districts increased as more students attended independent charter schools.

The analysis concludes:

… Expanding California’s charter sector is a win-win proposition. So yes, authorizers in the state should absolutely vet new charter applications – and hold existing schools accountable for their performance during the renewal process. But opponents of charter schools should stop perpetuating the myth that they threaten host district’s finances.

What does parent power look like in NC?

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Do you ever wonder how much power parents have over education reform? The Center for Education Reform, a national advocacy organization, ranks the states each year through its Parent Power! Index. While there’s plenty of room for improvement, North Carolina stacks up pretty well in 2021, especially when it comes to public charter schools.

In CER’s 2021 ranking, North Carolina makes the top 10, coming in 8th overall. Here’s a look at how our state fares in key areas:

  • Charter schools: NC earns a B (80%).
  • Choice programs: NC earns a C (70%).
  • Teacher quality: NC earns a C (76%).
  • Innovation: NC earns a C (78%).

National rankings

Nationally, Florida is the only state to earn an A overall. Three states–Arizona, Indiana, and West Virginia–earn a B. North Carolina earns a C overall in parent power. Here’s the national map:

Source: Parent Power! Index, Center for Education Reform

Here’s the screenshot of the national ranking:

Source: Parent Power! Index, Center for Education Reform

But, take a look at the national map on charter schools. This shows up as an area of real strength for North Carolina.

Source: Parent Power! Index, Center for Education Reform

Learn more about CER’s Parent Power Index here. Find out more about CER’s data and methodology here.

New survey: An uptick in students’ mental health concerns and a downturn in college hopes

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A new survey from YouthTruth, a national nonprofit, reveals concerning impacts from the pandemic for American students. The survey, which queried more than 200,000 students in grades 3-12, found an uptick in mental health concerns and a downturn in college hopes.

About the survey

YouthTruth surveyed 153,475 students in grades 6-12 and 53,910 students in grades 3-5. Students attended 585 schools in 19 states. (North Carolina was not included.) Students submitted survey responses between January-May 2021.

Most students reported learning virtually in 2021.

  • 14% attended school in person.
  • 64% attended school virtually.
  • 20% attended school in a hybrid environment.

Key findings–mental health

A number of challenges have made learning difficult for students. Here are the top three:

  • 49% cited “feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious.”
  • 38% cited “distractions at home and family responsibilities.”
  • 27% cited “my health or the health of my family members.”

The percentage of students who report feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious has risen steadily, from 39% in Spring 2020 to 46% in Fall 2020 to 49% in Spring 2021. Students also perceive that adults at school are less accessible than they were before the pandemic.

Source: YouthTruth

Key findings–college hopes

More high school seniors say their plans are shifting as the pandemic continues.

  • In Spring 2020, 18% said their plans were changing.
  • A year later, in Spring 2021, 28% said their plans were changing.

Source: YouthTruth

What are seniors planning to do after graduation?

  • 48% said they planned to attend a four-year college, down from 52% before COVID.
  • 20% said they planned to attend a two-year college.
  • 8% said they planned to work full-time.
  • 10% said they were unsure.

Read a full report about the survey from the 74 here.


H.R. 4502: Next steps in the U.S. Senate

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We have an update for you on H.R. 4502. As you know, charter advocates have been very concerned about language in the bill (Section 314) threatening federal funding for charter schools. Unfortunately, H.R. 4502 passed the U.S. House of Representatives with this language intact.

H.R. 4502 in the U.S. Senate

Then, on August 3, the bill was received in the Senate. (Track the bill with this link.) To gain clarity on next steps, Lindalyn spoke with a senior education policy advisor who works with U.S. Senator Richard Burr on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee. Senator Burr is the Ranking Member on that committee.
We have learned that the bill will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee but not to Senator Burr’s HELP Committee. At this point, we do not expect either Senator Burr or Senator Tillis to be directly involved with H.R. 4502.

U.S. Senators Burr and Tillis and H.R. 4502 provisions

We also confirmed that both lawmakers favor restoring money to the federal Charter Schools Program grant and striking the discriminatory Section 314 language in the bill. Based on what we have learned, we do not expect the legislation will get out of the Appropriations Committee. We will keep you posted as we learn more.

A new member joins the Charter Schools Advisory Board

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A new member joins the NC Charter Schools Advisory Board

Congratulations, Eric Sanchez!

The Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB) will soon welcome a new member. This past Thursday, August 5, the NC State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve Eric Sanchez to a four-year term on CSAB. Eric Sanchez is Co-founder and CEO of Henderson Collegiate in Henderson, NC.
Eric previously served on CSAB from 2013 to 2017. He will replace outgoing member Alex Quigley. We will miss Alex but are glad to have Eric on board. Congratulations!

Reminder: Opt-in for federal funds to hire school nurses

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Federal funds totaling $300 million are available to charter schools and districts to hire school nurses for 2021-22. Funding is for temporary staff, and is intended to support testing and other health needs.

Charter schools must opt in to receive funds

This is an opt-in program. Schools must apply by September 13. By now, charter operators should have received the form from the NC Department of Health and Human Services. If you did not receive a form or would like more information, please email

Learn more

Access the updated flyer on testing here. Find a brief blurb on the NC DHHS website here.

House passes bill threatening federal charter funding

By News
Last Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4502. This legislation threatens federal funding for public charter schools. In fact, the bill includes a $40 million cut to the federal Charter Schools Program, as well as the following problematic language (in Section 314):
“None of the funds made available by this Act or any other Act may be awarded to a charter school that contracts with a for-profit entity to operate, oversee or manage the activities of the school.”
Read a blog post from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools about the bill.

A straight party-line vote

The legislation passed along a straight party-line vote. Here’s a screenshot of the vote:

Vote on H.R. 4502 from the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives

Following the vote, in an email to state leaders, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools wrote:
The two amendments offered by Republicans during consideration by the Rules Committee to reverse the CSP cut and to remove the Section 314 language were not allowed to come to a vote on the House floor. In addition, the final bill included an amendment calling for oversight of so-called for-profit charter schools. This amendment didn’t receive its own vote, but rather passed as part of a block of Democratic amendments.
Now, the fight moves to the Senate. Hopes are high for a better bill. But, differences between House and Senate versions will need to be reconciled in conference. As the Alliance noted, “We will have to fight hard to ensure the expected Senate version prevails.”

Taking action

Thank you to those of you who reached out to your elected representatives individually –or educated members of your school community about this legislation.
Last week, the Coalition signed on to a letter to congressional leaders. Signed by 70 organizations nationwide, the letter called for fair funding for charter schools in the bill. It was  spearheaded by the Foundation for Excellence in Education; find a statement from Patricia Leveque, the Foundation’s CEO, here. The full text of the letter follows the statement.


The Senate will likely tackle this issue after Labor Day, according to the Alliance. We will update you as events warrant. The Coalition intends to push back to ensure public charter schools are treated fairly. There is work to do, and we will all need to make our voices heard!