Education

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UNC-Chapel Hill senior Jailen Wallis (center) loves the idea of teaching, but the pay and the working conditions loomed too large as drawbacks to the profession.
Courtesy of Jailen Wallis

 UNC-Chapel Hill senior Jailen Wallis has always been tempted to become a high school English teacher.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

About one out of ten black students in Wake County’s Public Schools were suspended last school year, according to an annual report presented to Wake County School Board members on Tuesday.

Black students accounted for 63 percent of Wake’s total suspensions, while making up about of fourth of the overall population. Black students also made up 59 percent of Wake’s individual suspensions.

The North Carolina Supreme Court will likely have an opinion on teacher tenure within six months.
Jess Clark

The North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in the state's fight to get rid of teacher tenure.

Durham students wearing the gele in celebration of Black History Month.
Jamaica Gilmer / The Beautiful Project

On the first day of Black History Month, Durham School of Creative Studies (SCS) students Natalia Artigas, Assata Goff and Naima Harrell showed up to school with their heads wrapped in geles, a colorful fabric many black women wind around their hair as a sign of cultural pride.

The State Board of Education wants to get rid of Standard VI, a piece of teacher evaluations some say is too punitive.

Standard VI requires teachers to meet expected student growth on state standardized tests. If they don’t, principals have to take action against them. That action can range from placement on an improvement plan to dismissal.

Image of June Atkinson, who has been the North Carolina state superintendent since 2005.
North Carolina Democratic Party

Senate Leader Phil Berger is criticizing the Department of Public Instruction for a budget it proposed in January. Documents show the department wanted to use about $2 million meant for a literacy program to fund positions the department axed to meet state-mandated budget cuts.

Wanda McLemore teaches a transitional fourth grade class at Falkener Elementary. The first half of her class is whole-group instruction.
Jess Clark

Forty percent of the state’s third-graders tested below grade level in reading last school year. Those are levels of achievement many parents and legislators say are unacceptable.

The state has been trying to boost reading scores for the last two years with a law called Read to Achieve. But is it getting schools what they need to improve scores?

Northern High School principal Matthew Hunt and senior Caleb Crawley
Will Michaels / WUNC

The finalists for the 2016 North Carolina Principal of the Year include eight administrators across the state. Matthew Hunt, principal of Northern High School in Durham, is on the list. Hunt is the finalist from the north central region. He was also named the 2016 Principal of the Year by Durham Public Schools.

Diversity Low Among N.C. Charter Schools

Feb 2, 2016
At one point, only six percent of students at Central Park School for Children in Durham, NC qualified for free and reduced meals. After enacting a weighted lottery that prioritizes low-income families, that number is up to 18 percent. The goal is 40.
Reema Khrais / WUNC

Since the late 1990s, the racial diversity of North Carolina’s 158 charter schools has decreased with more institutions becoming predominantly white or predominantly minority.

In January, a draft of a state report on charter schools showed they were whiter and richer compared to traditional public schools. Advocates for charter schools say they offer an option for low-income families in low-performing schools. Opponents say they are slipping back into segregated systems.

Perils and Promise, Rural Education, Advanced Placement
Leoneda Inge

Some teachers and schools administrators say one of the biggest obstacles to success for public school students in rural communities is poverty.  And research shows if you are poor, you have a good chance of being overlooked for gifted, honors or advanced classes.

In our series, Perils & Promise: Educating North Carolina’s Rural Students, we spoke with students in an Advanced Placement class in Vance County about their path to success.

classroom
David Schott / Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow charter school organizations and charter management companies to take over the state's lowest performing schools.

June Atkinson is the North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Jeff Tiberii

State Superintendent June Atkinson is asking lawmakers to consider a 10 percent raise for teachers across the board. Atkinson delivered her proposals to a group of lawmakers Wednesday.

Anthony Jackson, Vance County Superintendent, Vance County Schools
Vance County Schools

Many of North Carolina’s rural school districts sit in the middle of communities with struggling economies resulting in high unemployment rates, poverty rates and high school dropout rates.

The UNC-system saw its highest enrollment ever last fall, and data show minorities are driving the system's growth.

University Classes, Schools Canceled Friday

Jan 21, 2016
snow on I-40
Dave DeWitt

Updated at 6:26 pm: 

School and business closings are starting to come in, ahead of Friday’s expected storm.

UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, and NC State University have canceled classes for Friday.

Here's a list of schools that have announced they will be closed Friday:

  • Wake County Schools
  • Durham Public Schools 
  • Chapel Hill/Carrboro Schools 
  • Orange County Schools 
  • Cumberland County Schools
  • Chatham County Schools
  • Johnston County Schools
  • Alamance/Burlington Schools 
  • Guilford County Schools 
  • Franklin County Schools
  • Edgecombe County Schools
  • Nash/Rocky Mount Schools 
  • Person County Schools 
  • Lee County Schools 
  • Roanoke Rapids Schools
  • Weldon City Schools
  • Northampton County Schools
  • Warren County Schools

Reema Khrais

In Durham’s Central Park School for Children, classrooms look and feel different than they did just a few years ago. Frankly, the charter school is not as upper-middle class or white as it used to be.

“There’s a greater diversity of viewpoints, there’s a greater diversity of perspectives,” Director John Heffernan explains.

Teacher pay increases may be a possibility in the upcoming legislative session, according to Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), who chairs the House committee on education spending.

children reading
U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Guilford County Schools says it needs more resources and teacher training to boost reading scores.

A picture of a student doing school work.
Marco Arment / flickr.com/photos/marcoarment/1969185955

North Carolina is home to more Early College High Schools than any other state. New numbers show some of the most successful programs are in rural school districts.  Early College High Schools make it possible for students to earn an Associate’s Degree while still in high school. 

photo of a unisex bathroom sign
Tombe / Wikipedia

A high school student is petitioning the Wake County Public School System to create a policy allowing transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

CJ Lewis's petition on change.org has more than 600 digital signatures.

Ricky Hurtado is the executive director of the Scholars' Latino Initiative at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he helps Latino high school students earn a college degree.
John Houston

Growing up in rural North Carolina, Ricky Hurtado knew little about the state's education system. As a first-generation Latino-American, he saw limited resources around him to achieve a college degree.

He worked two jobs in high school to save money for college. With support of his family and teachers, he eventually earned a full ride to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill through the Morehead-Cain scholarship.

DeShannon Korrea and Dwayne Taylor head home, lottery tickets in-hand, from the BP on Lakewood in Durham.
Jess Clark

At Saturday night's Powerball drawing, one very lucky ticketholder could win more than $900 million—the largest lottery jackpot in the nation's history. Ticket sales from Powerball and other lottery games offered in North Carolina are billed as a benefit for the state’s schools. Sales in 2015 were almost $2 billion, and about a quarter of that went to fund public education in the state. But what does that really mean for school funding?

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

The State Board of Education has approved a policy that allows struggling charter schools to stay open if they are less than five years old.

As part of the 2013-14 state budget, the State Board of Education is required to study virtual charter schools and propose draft rules.
Ian Usher via Flickr

  UPDATED Jan. 11, 2016

Twenty percent of students who enrolled in the state's first virtual charter schools left before the end of the semester, according to a report from the state department of public instruction.

State Board of Education member Olivia Oxendine says she wants to find out why so many students are pulling out.

Lt. Governor Dan Forest has asked the State Board of Education to delay the approval of an annual report on charter schools because he says he thinks the report is too negative.

The state board planned to approve the report this week in order to send it to the General Assembly before a January deadline.

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