Fully disclose charter salaries

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 11:11 PM

This editorial appeared in the Charlotte Observer

It's disappointing that officials of some N.C. charter schools are trying to evade full disclosure of who gets paid what at the schools. Charters are "public" schools and should be subject to the same transparency requirements as all other public schools.

Republican State Rep. Charles Jeter and State Sen. Jeff Tarte, both of Mecklenburg County, get that. Said Jeter, who has children at Pine Lake Preparatory charter school: "You can't pick and choose when it's convenient (for disclosure). If they (charter schools) want to play in that arena, they need to play by public law."

Tarte wrote in a newsletter: "When any organization that receives state funds refuses to comply with state laws, their state funding should be withheld.... Paraphrasing Thoreau, civil disobedience has consequences."

We hope neither backs away from those common-sense positions as some charter schools try to carve out spurious exceptions.

That's what Richard Vinroot, a former Charlotte mayor who is working with Sugar Creek and Lincoln charter schools, and others are doing by selectively deciding how they will disclose salary information. He claims that releasing the information as traditional schools do "would create disruption within (the charter schools)" because charter schools link pay to performance.

That's a specious argument. Advocates for pay for performance tout it as an admirable incentive to boosting performance. Why hide how it plays out in the workplace? And why would it cause disruption unless its fair application is in question?

In truth, traditional public schools can raise the same argument. Employees are evaluated and paid in some part based on their performance. And N.C. lawmakers approved changes last year ending teacher tenure and instituting steps toward a pay-for-performance plan for all traditional public schools.

So, while it may be uncomfortable for charter schools to release this information -- as it is for traditional public schools -- it is the law. The employees are public employees, and as such their salaries are open to public scrutiny.