Education

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15-501 in Chapel Hill. Southbound is bumper-to-bumper at 1:30 p.m.
Carol Jackson

Many North Carolina school districts will have to make some tough decisions on how to make up the recent snow days.

State law requires all public schools to have at least 1,025 instructional hours or 85 instructional days in their calendars. Most school districts have some snow days built into their calendars, so they don’t have to make up all of the lost time.

But for the days they do have to make up, school officials have several options, which include:

A picture of a school bus in the snow.
schoolbusdriver.org

Winter weather prompted many schools to close across central North Carolina today. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools made that call later than others. 

Classes at Chapel Hill-Carrboro high schools were canceled today, but not before elementary and middle school students got to their desks.

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday morning on a case challenging the constitutionality of the state’s private school voucher program.

The status of private school vouchers in North Carolina has been in flux ever since two lawsuits were filed in December 2013 that seek to end the vouchers, or Opportunity Scholarships. The North Carolina Association of Educators and the NC Justice Center filed a suit on behalf of 25 plaintiffs, while the NC School Boards Association filed a second lawsuit.

Members of the Barakat and Abu-Salha families share their gratitude for N.C. State's new scholarship fund honoring the memories of Razan Abu-Salha, Deah Abu-Salha and Yusor Abu-Salha.
Reema Khrais

North Carolina State University is creating a scholarship fund to honor Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, three family members who were shot to death in Chapel Hill February 10. A neighbor, Craig Hicks, has been charged with first-degree murder.

“This is the first blessing and the first happy day after the tragedy,” said Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of Razan and Yusor, on Friday afternoon when university officials announced the new endowment.

The 'Old Well' UNC-Chapel HIll
Caroline Culler / Wikipedia

The state’s higher education institutions had a $63.5 billion impact on the state’s economy in the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to a new study. 

Higher education leaders say the report shows that the North Carolina’s institutions of higher education are providing a strong return on investment for students and taxpayers.

It notes that taxpayers invested $4.3 billion to support higher education in 2012-13, and received a $17 billion return.

Gene Nichol
UNC Law School

A committee of the UNC Board of Governors has recommended closing three academic centers and placing 13 others under review.

The seven-member committee started last year by looking at more than 200 academic centers on the 16 UNC system campuses. Together, the centers and institutes receive $69 million in state appropriations – a 40% drop from 2009.

Dudley Flood speaks to the NC Air National Guard in 2011
North Carolina National Guard

    

It had been 15 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision that struck down segregation in schools.  

But in 1969, most public schools in North Carolina were still segregated, so when Dudley Flood was called to desegregate every school in the state, he was overwhelmed, but he was not skeptical.

He had learned from his tiny hometown in northeastern North Carolina that education could be the great equalizer.

UNC’s 2015 Social Entrepreneurship Conference challenges students on our 17 campuses to identify some of North Carolina’s most pressing social problems, then take a business-oriented approach to solving them.
http://www.northcarolina.edu/?q=content/2015-social-entrepreneurship-conference

 

   Students throughout the University of North Carolina's system are working to identify some of the state's most pressing social problems and address them with business-oriented approaches. 

John Stender, program participant
Leoneda Inge

Tinkering with the family car used to be good training for getting a job at a body shop or a garage. But the vehicles rolling off assembly lines these days are so high-tech, a whole new generations of workers is needed to repair them.

There's a new degree program at Fayetteville Tech designed to fill the growing demand for highly-trained mechanics.

Jon Stender is one of the first students to enroll in the new collision repair and refinishing technology two-year degree program.

Ray Christian
Twitter

  

Ray Christian is a born storyteller. Growing up, he read to his illiterate parents.  He sought escape from an impoverished childhood in Richmond, Virginia by joining the military. In his two decades in the Army, he served in combat zones and jumped from planes as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. Today he weaves tales of those experiences into narratives that he shares on stage and he highlights the stories of others as a history instructor at Appalachian State University.  Host Frank Stasio talks with Ray Christian about his life and stories.

high school students
Vancouver Film School via Flickr/Creative Commons

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has released letter grades for every school in the state.

They are based on standardized testing and academic growth. The report says 29 percent of them got a D or an F last year, which by law prompts them to notify parents of their low grades.

Supporters of the new evaluation system say it is more comprehensive. Opponents say it is not an accurate depiction of public education.

Reema Khrais

Updated 7:31 PM

North Carolina public schools received letter grades for the first time on Thursday, with high-poverty schools receiving more Ds and Fs than those with fewer low-income students.

Under the new A through F grading system, more than two-thirds of schools received Cs, Ds or Fs and only about five percent earned As.

The grades are based on two different metrics:

Fingers on a keyboard, computer,
Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday we reported that state education officials were expected to vote on whether to approve two virtual charter schools to open next fall.

The schools would serve up to 3,000 students who would take all of their classes at home and interact with students and teachers online. Supporters have argued that it would help students who don’t thrive in traditional settings – especially those dealing with health issues, athletic schedules, or bullying.

teacher with protest sign
Sarah-Jl / Flickr/Creative Commons

North Carolina's Republican lawmakers are trying once more to prevent employees’ associations from collecting their members’ dues via payroll deductions.

a teacher in a classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

When North Carolina charter schools were first imagined in the mid 1990s, there were two big dreams: The first was to create something different, a sort of hotbed of innovation. The second was to take all of that new thinking – at least the stuff that worked – and share it with traditional public schools.

“But the second half of that never occurred,” said Jim Merrill, superintendent of Wake County Public Schools.

stack of money
Flickr user 401(K)2013

A failed charter school in Lenoir County mismanaged hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the state auditor’s office.

Kinston Charter Academy received more than $600,000 of state money two months before it closed, even though it had received several citations for fiscal mismanagement over the years.

The audit says the funds were inappropriately used to cover expenses from the previous year, instead of going toward other public schools that students transferred to after Kinston closed.

Kindergarten teacher Daly Romero Espinal teaches her students basic Spanish commands on the first day of school at Martin Millennium Academy.
Reema Khrais

 Fewer North Carolina students are enrolling in teaching programs, a problem education leaders say they are trying to tackle by strengthening recruitment, improving teacher preparation and supporting pay increases.

The number of undergraduate and graduate students declaring education majors dropped by 12 percent between 2013 and 2014. It’s a statistic education officials repeated and mulled over during Tuesday’s UNC Board of Governors Education Summit held by the SAS Institute.

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

A North Carolina superior court judge will hold a hearing Wednesday on whether the state is providing every student with the opportunity for an adequate education.

Judge Howard E. Manning Jr. is in charge of making sure the state hasn't forgotten about the Leandro case,  a decades-old landmark lawsuit that says all children - regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds - deserve a 'sound, basic education.'

Author Sharon Draper has been writing award-winning young adult fiction for years. 

John Fennebresque
Dave DeWitt

Tom Ross was an unlikely UNC President from the outset. He had a long career as a superior court judge, with shorter stints as president of Davidson College and head of the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation.

This morning, when he faced reporters after it was announced that he would be leaving his job – or, as the Board of Governors’ statement put it, they would “begin the process of leadership transition” – Ross looked shocked and disappointed.

Duke University said earlier this week that it would allow a weekly Islamic call-to-prayer from the bell tower of Duke Chapel.

Christian preacher Franklin Graham condemned the decision and called on donors to cease their financial contributions to Duke.

Tom Ross
University of North Carolina

University of North Carolina System President Tom Ross will retire from his position, effective January 2016.  Ross has led the 17-school university system since 2011. 

In a joint statement with Ross, the Board of Governors said it "decided to begin the process of leadership transition."  

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

Education leaders are considering drastically cutting the number of standardized tests for public school students.

Members of a state task force charged with studying how often students are tested have drafted a proposal that would eliminate almost all end-of-grade tests and end-of-course tests.

“Right now, we know that too much weight is put on end-of-grade tests and end-of-course tests,” said Bladen County Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor, who’s on the task force.

It's shaping up to be an interesting year for the Common Core, barely five years after 45 governors embraced it. A few states have already repealed the new math and reading standards. Others are pushing ahead with new tests, curriculum and teaching methods aligned to the Core.

And in some states, its future hangs in the balance. North Carolina is one of them.

It was one of the first states that quietly adopted the Common Core, and it moved quickly to put the standards in place.

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

All North Carolina high school students will be graded on a 10-point scale starting next school year, a change State Board of Education members approved Thursday. 

That means students will earn A’s if they score between 90 and 100. Currently, they’re graded on a 7-point scale.

State officials had previously decided in October to phase in the new 10-point scale with next year’s freshmen class. But Rebecca Garland, Deputy State Superintendent for the Department of Public Instruction, said that decision upset parents, students, teachers and superintendents.

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