Judge blocks opening of online charter school

A moment of sanity in an otherwise insane state of affairs:

A Wake County judge ruled Friday that a controversial charter school that planned to offer only online classes cannot open in August. The decision could delay the launch of any similar programs for at least a couple of years.

Hopefully this will send a message to the education "reformers" in the Legislature; that they can't have their cake and eat it, too. They can't slash funding for traditional public education and still get their dubious alternatives as well. It's also a needed slap in the face to lawmakers who would dip their pen in too many conflicting inkwells:

Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, a Republican from Cabarrus County and the attorney representing the online program, said N.C. Learns has not decided whether to appeal Jones’ ruling.

But he was insistent that Jones’ order is not a death knell for online charter schools in North Carolina. “Absolutely not,” Hartsell said.

Maybe I just can't grasp the fine threads of Legislative ethics, but how (in the name of all that's holy) can a sitting Senator also be a lobbyist, without running afoul of lobbying or ethics rules? We're not even talking about a revolving door; this is more like a spinning chair.

Maybe there's something in the water in Cabarrus County:

N.C. Learns won approval from the Cabarrus County school board in February to base the online charter school in that district. But it could have enrolled students from across the state, siphoning millions of dollars from traditional public schools in districts outside Cabarrus County.

Cabarrus County, one of the lowest-funded school systems, would have gained 4 percent of the public money pulled in by the online charter school.

There's the free market at work in the GOP's version of North Carolina: Desperate to survive on dwindling resources, one county comes up with (or falls prey to) a scheme to take away money from other counties, with a state Senator and his clients pulling the strings from the balcony.

It would make a fairly decent novel but, unfortunately, Robert Penn Warren is no longer with us.



Your comment of legislative ethics got me to thinking. A sitting senator has clearly received money to represent a group that is partnering with a major, national corporation (who will rake in lots of cash by operating this virtual school) to then give a kickback to a single county that he represents. Huh, I wonder if the sitting senator received several substantial campaign contributions from that big corporation during this time too.