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If the school board, which takes it as a given that more money is needed to teach certain types of students, expects charter schools to teach those students, surely it's arguing that the state should give the charter schools more money. But, of course, it's not.
Carr and her husband, Kevin, who is principal of the Meredith Leigh Haynes-Bennie Lee Inman Education Center for special-needs students in Jamestown, have a daughter who is a special-needs student.
Car said, "I would be hard pressed to find a charter school in North Carolina that serves anyone with the level of disability of my daughter."
It would be good if all charter schools could do so. You can argue whether or not bilingual or advanced students require more money to teach – but students with severe learning disabilities do. The Haynes-Inman Center and its eastern Guilford County counterpart, the Gateway Education Center on East Wendover Avenue in Greensboro, are the most expensive schools to run in the school system. They have the highest ratio of teachers to students, their teachers have training and certification that most teachers don't, and the school buildings are the most expensive per pupil in the county, because they are built with more square footage per student.
Requiring charter schools to have such facilities and such teachers would be redundant and a waste of money that could be better used beefing up facilities for special-needs students in the traditional school systems.
Much of the opposition to charter schools, like so many things in education in North Carolina, comes down to race. The biggest fear surrounding charter schools is that they will split county education systems in two, with charter schools serving white students and traditional public schools serving minority students.
Carr said, "In many ways, there are concerns that we are moving right back to where we were before segregation."
The charter school experiment is too young to tell whether or not that will happen. Charter schools are required to accept students of all races. The biggest impediment to poor students – black, white or Hispanic – getting to charter schools is lack of transportation. Parents need to have cars to take students to school, and at least one parent has to have the time to do so. But there is nothing to prevent charter schools from providing transportation if they can find a way to do so, or perhaps providing it just for students who can't afford it. That would be an experiment traditional public schools couldn't do.
Also, traditional school systems have not been very successful in maintaining integration, as white parents vote with their feet in many areas by moving out of cities to put their children into suburban schools.
School board member Kris Cooke, responding to the resegregation argument as made by Alexander, argued for fighting a fight the school board has a chance of winning.
"I understand what you're saying, Sandy," Cooke said. "But I think it's fighting a losing battle. We need to fight to make our schools the best that we can, so children don't need to be in a charter school."