The charter school movement has had a hard time moving beyond the experimental stage in North Carolina.
Republicans in the General Assembly helped pass legislation in the mid-1990s creating charter schools, which are public schools that have open enrollment but are run by private boards and lack many of the regulations of traditional public schools.
The legislation capped the number of charter schools at 100 but that cap has never been raised or eliminated.
Some studies have questioned the effectiveness of charter schools on student performance. Democrats aligned with powerful education groups also have concerns.
Charter school backers hope they can build their movement beyond the conservatives who are among the loudest boosters.
Scores of black Democrats attended or spoke at last week's charter school rally at the Legislature. They say the schools help at-risk