We know that charter schools take public funds, yet don't need to meet the same obligations or standards of accountability as public schools.
Recently the NCGA tried to remedy one little piece of that: the Senate passed, and the House was about to pass a bill that would require charter schools to disclose the same salary information as public schools. That is, charter schools that take public money would have to obey public records laws.
Makes a lot of sense, right? That's why, at the last minute, Rep. Charles Jeter introduced an amendment to block the disclosure of the names of the charter school employees.
The amendment, introduced as a broader charter school bill, passed the House on a 65-48 vote in its final reading. It preserves the part of the initial bill that says charter schools must disclose positions, salaries, promotions, demotions, disciplinary actions and other specific personnel data, but says that employee names “shall not be open to inspection.”
WTF? Who thinks this is a good idea? Oh, right, good ol' David Lewis, who is completely enstranged from truth, has a fine justification for the amendment:
“You create a very hostile environment when you have to release names and salaries for every teacher,” [Lewis] said. “…What I’m trying to prohibit is the blanket publication of the names.”
Dave apparently is OK with creating a "hostile environment" and requiring the "blanket publication of the names" in public schools, just not in charter schools.
Does anyone think this is a bad idea?
Amanda Martin, lawyer for the N.C. Press Association, called it “a horrible amendment.”
Well said, Ms. Martin.
How did Jeter come to introduce this amendment anyway?
At the time Jeter, whose children attend Pine Lake Preparatory charter school in Mooresville, told the Observer charter schools are subject to public disclosure.
“You can’t pick and choose when it’s convenient,” he said. “If they want to play in that arena, they need to play by public law.”
Jeter said Thursday that after talking to “some of my colleagues and others,” he decided that the names should be protected because charter schools can use merit-based pay, rather than the state salary schedule, and because employees report to a private nonprofit board.
Somehow we suspect those "others" he talked to were charter school profiteers who don't want the public to know how much they're getting paid with public money.
After it was pointed out that Jeter's amendment is, well, horrible, for reasons including the fact that it could shield cronyism, corruption and incompetence in schools (the News & Observer cited a real-life case where this seems likely, and public disclosure of pay records with names would aid the search for truth), ol' Chuck started backtracking. Jeter offered these two ridiculous suggestions, both of which are outright admissions that his amendment sucks:
Jeter initially said that journalists who hear about specific cases that indicate improper use of public money should request the list of public information and “do some digging” to match that data with names. But he then said he hopes the Senate revises the bill to require disclosure of names for employees who are related to school officials and for “outliers” who are making significantly more than others in comparable jobs.
In other words, says Chuck, my amendment is stupid because journalists could get the names anyway but I think they should have to work for it; and I hope my amendment is amended to disclose some names, just not the ones of the charter school profiteers who told me they wanted this amendment. And you can't prove it was the ones at my kids' charter school. Because charters won't have to name names.
Yep. It's a horrible amendment. That's what happens when you legislate according to the wishes of special interests. Which is mostly what the NC GOP does. That's why we have so many horrible laws.