News: CJ Exclusives

Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee snubs charter schools

NCAE president part of advisory group; charter teachers not represented

CJ file photo
CJ file photo

Of the 25 members on Gov. Roy Cooper’s Teacher Advisory Committee, not one teaches at a charter school — even though enrollment at charters has surpassed the six-digit mark.

The governor issued Executive Order No. 16 last week, establishing the Teacher Advisory Committee. Comprising teachers and support personnel picked Cooper, the committee will act as education ambassadors on behalf of the governor at designated events.

“Teachers and school support staff will bring critical knowledge, skills, and experience to our ongoing conversations about improving North Carolina’s education system,” Cooper said in a press release. “The Teacher Advisory Committee will give insight into how we can show educators the respect they deserve and be instrumental in helping North Carolina become a Top Ten Most Educated State by 2025.”

The omission of charter school teachers is likely not a mistake. It’s also noteworthy because one pick for the committee is Mark Jewell, president of the state’s main teachers union, the North Carolina Association of Educators.

While Cooper’s office did not respond to questions asking why charter school teachers were excluded, he’s established a record of favoring traditional public schools over school-choice alternatives including public charter schools and scholarships for low-income and disabled students.

In his proposed budget, the governor did not include any funding for Opportunity Scholarships, a program which helps low-income families send their children to a nonpublic school. When the General Assembly presented Cooper with its version of the budget, Cooper accused lawmakers of draining funding from public schools to pay for private school vouchers.

The governor also claimed in a lawsuit the legislature’s budget was unconstitutional because it set aside a decade’s worth of funding for Opportunity Scholarships.

Rhonda Dillingham, the executive director of the North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools, said charter school teachers deserve to be on the committee.

“The teachers in these schools work tirelessly every day to create a rich educational experience for their students. Surely these teachers’ voices deserve to be heard,” Dillingham said.

“Unfortunately, Governor Roy Cooper has missed out on an opportunity to bridge the divide between district schools and public charter schools as well as an opportunity to promote a healthy dialogue,” Dillingham added. “Without public charter schools’ representation at the table, a unique perspective is missing.”

Terry Stoops, the vice president of research and director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation, also criticized the governor’s decision to exclude charter school teachers.

“Public charter school leaders should be outraged that Cooper and his staff intentionally excluded charter teachers from the Teacher Advisory Committee,” Stoops argued. “Their contempt for charter schools, which will likely employ around 6,000 teachers and educate over 100,000 students this school year, is comically misguided.”