Sunday, January 29, 2006

When is a state lottery for "education" not a lottery for all public school students? When it's in North Carolina!

Governor Mike Easley of North Carolina has been pleading for a state lottery to help defray the costs of public education. He finally got his wish, but the lottery proceeds will not go to benefit all public school students:
North Carolina's education lottery was touted as a win for education, but not all public schools will benefit.
The state's 99 charter schools will not receive any of the proceeds earmarked for school construction programs because, by law, they are supposed to fund their own capital projects.
"I was shocked to learn that we wouldn't be benefiting from this the way other public schools would," said Principal Tom Humble, of Raleigh Charter High School. "Charter school students are public school students, just like students in any Wake County school or Durham County school, and they should be getting the same benefits."
Even some lawmakers who supported the lottery bill said they did not realize charter schools would not get any of the proceeds.
State House Rep. Winkie Wilkins, D-Person County, said he was considering introducing a new bill to change the lottery law to add charter schools to the more than 2,200 school systems in the state.
"There will be some tweaking, I do believe," Wilkins said. "And this may be a worthwhile addition."
Two years ago, charter schools sued for the right to receive money from fines and forfeitures, like other public schools, and won. Charter school leaders have not said whether they will sue in this case.
Not too surprisingly, the charter school (which are public schools funded by the state under NC law) are fighting back:
he first games are scheduled to begin in April and could bring in more than $400 million annually in net profits. The money is supposed to go toward public school construction, efforts to reduce class sizes and expand pre-kindergarten, as well as need-based college scholarships.
Tom Vass, of North Carolina Students for Equitable Lottery Funding, says lawmakers need to fix what he calls a legislative oversight and dedicate a portion of funds to charter schools.
Nearly 100 charter schools in North Carolina serve about 30,000 students. They get state funds based on a per-pupil formula. Traditional public schools also receive local construction funds, but charter schools do not.

I see the powerful lobby of the teacher's union in play here, despite the fact that the charter schools employ teachers and administrators...

Incidentally, Raleigh Charter High School was ranked 9th in the nation in Newsweek's 2004 list of "The 100 Best High Schools in America."

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