Under the Dome

Tillman OK with no free-lunch kids in charters

A left-leaning think tank is pointing to an exchange during this week's senate debate over whether to lift the state's cap on charter schools as a telling illustration of what Republicans think of low-income children having equal access to those facilities.

Charters are not required to provide busses or lunches. During the debate earlier this week, Democratic Sen. Josh Stein of Raleigh asked the Republican leading the education committee, Sen Jerry Tillman of Archdale, whether it was okay with him that kids who need transportation or free and reduced price lunches be left out.

"It’s certainly OK if they don’t go there," Tillman said of the low income kids. "They can go to their public schools. They can get their free and reduced price lunch.”

Progressives pounced.

"Tillman and his fellow Republicans repeatedly said that all families should have the chance to send their children to charter schools," wrote Chris Fitzsimon with N.C. Policy Watch. "But they opposed amendments to require new charters to provide transportation and lunch services so poor families could afford to enroll their kids. ... In other words, Tillman and his colleagues are not troubled at all by tax dollars setting up schools that are available only to parents who can afford them. Poor families can stay in the traditional public schools. These charters are for the elites."

The senate voted Wednesday to lift the cap that has limited the number of charters in the state to 100. The bill now goes to the GOP-controlled House.

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