News: Quick Takes

State Board of Education rejects call to expand enrollment in virtual charter schools

Eric Davis, chairman of the N.C. State Board of Education, at a July 14, 2020, COVID-19 briefing. (Pool photo)
Eric Davis, chairman of the N.C. State Board of Education, at a July 14, 2020, COVID-19 briefing. (Pool photo)

The N.C. State Board of Education rejected a unanimous recommendation from the state’s Charter School Advisory Board to let 3,800 more students enroll at the state’s two virtual charter academies. The education board’s vote was 7-4.

The advisory board said Wednesday, Aug. 12, that the state-run virtual charters should take more students to handle growing demand because districts had reduced in-person instruction due to COVID-19.

But the six SBE members appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper, and board Chairman Eric Davis, an appointee of Gov. Pat McCrory, voted to freeze enrollment at the virtual charters. The four no votes were from Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, state Treasurer Dale Folwell, and two McCrory picks.

Forest issued a statement blasting the decision.

For a board that says it seeks equity in all decisions, with this vote today, they are leaving thousands of students with no truly viable choice. Many of these students live in the poorest communities in our state.¬†With traditional schools closed, families without access to the internet or a virtual academy, as well as numerous students with special needs, are begging for alternatives. Gov. Cooper’s Board of Education should be providing more options, not blocking them.

Slightly more than 5,000 students attend the two virtual charter schools. The advisory board had recommended admitting as many as 2,800 more students at the N.C. Virtual Academy and up to 1,000 more at the N.C. Charter Academy. Nearly 10,000 students are on a waiting list for the virtual charters.