Education

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high school students
Vancouver Film School via Flickr/Creative Commons

Wake County School leaders hope to spend millions over the next few years to help support their high-poverty schools.

Officials identified 12 “high-needs” elementary schools earlier this year that will receive extra resources like professional development and more pay for teachers.

“One immediate need that we saw in a lot of the schools had to do with vacancies,” said Cathy Moore, Wake's deputy superintendent for school performance, at a recent school board meeting. 

Fingers on a keyboard, computer,
Wikimedia Commons

The state is closer to opening two virtual charter schools. A special committee on Wednesday cleared two applications of proposed charter schools that would be operated by for-profit companies.

North Carolina Virtual Academy would be managed by K12 Inc., which has had student performance problems in other states, while N.C. Connections Academy would be affiliated with Connections Education.

On Wednesday, the state committee took turns firing off questions to the two eager applicants.

There was the biggest and most obvious question:

Interstate 40 traffic
Dave DeWitt

Wake County school leaders said Thursday that the state’s decision to eliminate funding for driver’s education could put students at risk and lead to higher costs for families and taxpayers.

This summer, state lawmakers passed legislation to eliminate the $26 million school districts now receive to fund the program. That means starting next July, when the new fiscal year begins, districts will have to find other means to cover program costs.

students with laptops in classroom
Enokson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Members of a state commission have identified their top priorities for revising the Common Core academic standards used for North Carolina’s public school students.  

At a meeting Monday, they said they want to focus on increasing flexibility for teachers and school districts, rewriting the standards so they’re clear and understandable, and identifying standards that are developmentally inappropriate.

Image of Student Protesters
Jeff Tiberii

    

Members of the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors heard presentations Wednesday and Thursday from centers and institutes across the system as they consider possible cuts. 

Protesters lined a walk way at UNC-Chapel Hill, before a Board of Governors work group convened.
Jeff Tiberii

Update Friday 5:00 p.m.:

Listen to Frank Stasio's conversation with reporter Jeff Tiberii here. Tiberii has been attending and reporting on the meetings this week.

Update Friday 9:27 a.m.:

Melissa Hayden teaches her AP U.S. History class in Pittsboro, North Carolina at Northwood High School.
Reema Khrais

At a high school in Chatham County, Melissa Hayden reminds her students about tomorrow’s big history test. They’re learning about the populism movement and western expansion.

But before they delve into those lessons, Hayden begins class with something she read in the news.

“Let’s see, this is an article that I printed off in Newsweek last night,” says Hayden, an Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher at Northwood High School.  

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

The U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a lawsuit challenging Wake County’s school board election maps.

The Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice is challenging the 2013 redistricting on behalf of a handful of Wake County residents and two local organizations. They argue that the new districts drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly disfavor urban voters.

Students in Neal Magnet Middle's STEM Academy building robots.
Carol Jackson

There's a school program in Durham North Carolina that is preparing low-income African American boys for science, technology and engineering careers. The program is not focused on those who are failing, but rather those who have been chosen for their potential to succeed. WUNC's Carol Jackson has this profile:

Teachers and students say the new case (similar to an OtterBox) is part of the reason fewer tablets are breaking.
Jeff Tiberii

Students in Guilford County have tablet computers...again. The federally funded initiative first began in August of 2013, but school officials suspended the program weeks later after more than 10-percent of the devices broke. Now, middle school students have tablets from a different manufacturer.

At Jamestown Middle School several students surround a table in the media center. Their necks careen downward and their fingers move comfortably across glass screens. These tablets have games in math, social studies and science.

Carol Folt
Leoneda Inge

A UNC Chapel Hill alum has committed the largest individual gift ever to the university.  The $100 million dollars is for the pharmacy school.

UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt made the announcement Wednesday outside the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

"I am almost speechless," said Folt.

The Children from Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School
https://www.flickr.com/photos/marshillcollege

  

In 1912, famed educator Booker T. Washington approached philanthropist and Sears Roebuck Company CEO Julius Rosenwald with a plan to build schools for African-American children in the South. 

Together they created a program that eventually led to the creation of 5,300 Rosenwald schools. North Carolina was home to 800 schools- more than any other state. Former students and community supporters are working to rehabilitate one of the schools in Madison County and turn it into a historical venue. A Mars Hill University's Rural Heritage museum exhibit examines the history of African-American education in Madison County from Reconstruction to Civil Rights. 

House Under Construction
Dave DeWitt

 Members of the Cary Town Council are calling on county officials to help address the issue of overcrowding in Wake County public schools.

Earlier this month, the council tabled a request to rezone about 58 acres in west Cary that would have created 130 new homes.

Some members say they don’t feel comfortable moving forward with the plan just yet – at least not while many of the nearby schools are at or above capacity.

iPad with a notebook next to it
Sean MacEntee / Flickr/Creative Commons

Thirteen public schools in Wake County will soon be asking students to bring their tablets, smartphones, iPads and laptops to class.

The elementary, middle and high schools are participating in a pilot program called BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, that will be rolled out over the next couple of months.

Tamaulipas, Mexico, 1996 – Marisol daydreams at dusk while anticipating the arrival of more garbage trucks at the municipal dump
Janet Jarman

Immigration has taken center stage this week with President Obama's announcement of protection for some  children and families who entered the country illegally. In North Carolina, some area teachers have recently been trained to better understand the experience of such undocumented immigrants. The training is based on an extraordinary set of photos, taken over two decades, on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

WUNC's Carol Jackson tells the story:

Fayetteville teacher assistant Grace King works with first graders on sight words.
Reema Khrais

Public school districts throughout the state have fewer teacher assistants in the classrooms this academic year than the previous year, despite assurances from lawmakers that the state budget would not lead to TA reductions.  

Since the 2008-09 recession, state funding for TAs has been reduced by more than 20 percent, leading to thousands of cuts.

In Cumberland County Schools, teacher assistant Grace King begins her day driving a school bus.

The Academic Standards Review Commission met for their third meeting on Monday.
Reema Khrais

  A commission charged with making changes to the state's Common Core academic standards is facing a very elemental question: how will it get the money it needs to complete its work?

Legislators passed a bill this summer to create a commission to review and recommend changes to the Math and English academic standards for public school students.

In the legislation, lawmakers outlined that the commission should have money to hire staff and conduct research, but did not make clear how much money the commission will receive and where it will come from.

A pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed on Wake Tech campus.
WRAL via Twitter

Officials say one worker has been killed and four others were hurt when a pedestrian bridge under construction on Wake Tech Community College's northern campus collapsed. Wake County EMS officials say the four men suffered injuries Thursday that were serious enough to send them to a hospital trauma unit.

Jeff Hammerstein with Wake EMS says he thinks the highest point on the bridge was 40 feet above the ground. 

This is the story of how Jovian, a Coquerel’s sifaka, became the the "leaping, prancing otherworldly star" of the PBS KIDS show Zoboomafoo. Jovian died Monday at the Duke Lemur Center. He was 20 years old.

A group of faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are pursuing the idea of a new ethics policy.

At a Faculty Executive Committee meeting Monday, epidemiology professor Jim Thomas proposed developing a comprehensive ethics policy for the university as a whole. Thomas says he first suggested the idea a decade ago, but the recent scandal involving sham classes has allowed the proposal to gain traction.

Megan Malkowski with hands raised, 2011
Will Folsom / Flickr/Creative Commons

All this week, many area colleges and universities are waiving their application fees. Costs usually run between $40 and $100 per application, so for those students who are applying to several schools, the savings can be substantial. Don't wait till the weekend, though. The special program ends on Friday, Nov. 14.

Here is a complete list of participating colleges and universities:

When we began our 50 Great Teachers series, we set out to find great teachers and tell their stories. But we'll also be exploring over the coming year questions about what it means for a teacher to be great, and how he or she gets that way.

To get us started, we gathered an expert round table of educators who've also done a lot of thinking about teaching. Combined, these teachers are drawing on over 150 years of classroom experience:

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

  The State Board of Education on Thursday placed Charter Day School Inc. on “financial probationary status” for not turning over salary information of school employees to the Department of Public Instruction.

The state gave all 148 charter school operators until the end of September to provide salaries of school employees who are hired by for-profit companies.

Charter Day, which oversees four charter schools in the Wilmington area, was the only operator to not comply.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

A regional accrediting agency is launching another probe into UNC-Chapel Hill's academic fraud scandal.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is reviewing the findings of the independent Wainstein Report. That document showed that more than 3,000 students were enrolled in no-show classes and bogus independent studies.

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

Slightly fewer teachers left North Carolina last year than the year before, but more left because they were dissatisfied with teaching or wanted to teach in another state, according to a state Department of Public Instruction draft report.

Of the 96,010 public school teachers employed last year, 1,011 said they left because they were dissatisfied with teaching or had a career change. The year before, nearly nine hundred teachers left for those reasons.

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