A Senate bill on charter schools is part of an "extreme right-wing" GOP agenda and a "direct assault on the public schools of North Carolina," House Minority Leader Joe Hackney said this morning.
The charter bill will "bankrupt our schools in order to cater to the most narrow elements within their party," said Tricia Cotham, a Matthews Democrat.
House Democrats launched their own assault on the charter school bill the state Senate passed last week. Democrats said it could lead to unchecked growth of bad charters and drain money from traditional schools to support them.
The Senate bill that eliminates the 100-school limit on charters would require school districts to split more of their money with charters. Legislators said districts would have to share band booster money, even if charters don't have a band, give lunch money to charters that don't have food programs, and hand over money that supports pre-school programs to charters that don't offer them.
Senators say they have put into law three state Appeals Court decisions on charter funding that said local districts need to distribute more of their money to charters.
"Why, why are we going to do something that is going to wreck the public schools of this state as we know them?" asked Marvin Lucas, a Spring Lake Democrat who has supported lifting the 100-school cap.
Lucas tore up a copy of the Senate bill to dramatize his opinion. House Democrats said they will file their own version.
The bill deletes requirements for minimum charter enrolllment, which Democrats said could allow home schools to establish charters and receive public money.
Sen. Richard Stevens, a Cary Republican and the bill's sponsor, said those claims are ridiculous.
Homeschools could not meet all the requirements of starting a charter: establishing a board, coming up a financial plan, and getting approval from the new charter commission, Stevens said.
Correction: Changes inaccurate attribution.