Credit CPB

A possible change to how university employees are classified has the UNC system and employee rights groups bickering.

Dave DeWitt: About 22,000 employees who work on the UNC system’s 17 campuses are classified in one of two categories. EPA employees are exempt from the state personnel act, SPA employees are not.

The UNC Board of Governors wants to streamline, and create one category. They say it will allow more local control and create a system that rewards the best employees and allows universities more flexibility in recruitment.

Roy Dawson
UNC-Chapel Hill

Dropping out of high school is usually a lifelong ticket to a low-paying job, or worse. As more and more businesses require employees to have at least a high-school degree, those who do not are getting left behind. In response, public schools, community colleges, and universities are creating new ways for drop-outs to re-enter the education system. As part of our American Graduate series, Dave DeWitt tells the story of a student who found one of these new roads to success.

Dave DeWitt: School always came easy to Roy Dawson.

The second-largest school district in North Carolina is close to choosing a new leader. The search for a new superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools enters a public phase this week.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system is considering eliminating one of its most iconic academic programs. A report commissioned by the district recommends eliminating the Chinese dual-language emersion program.


Birthday cake and ice cream will be served on NC State’s campus today.   The Wolf-pack is 125-years-old.

Dave DeWitt

In 2009, Governor Bev Perdue and the State Department of Public Instruction took over the Halifax School System in Northeastern North Carolina. At the time, only about one third of students in Halifax high schools passed end of grade tests, and only about one-half graduated.

Things have improved. Graduation rates have risen by 16 percent. But there’s still a long way to go. As part of our American Graduate series, Dave DeWitt visited Halifax Northwest High School to see how the turnaround is going.

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory laid out his education platform today. As Dave DeWitt reports, the former mayor of Charlotte is in favor of expanding school choice and teacher merit pay, among other things.

Dave DeWitt: McCrory was careful not to wade into the current debate between Governor Bev Perdue and the Republican led Legislature over school funding. He refused to say if schools were adequately funded under the current budget, but instead offered outlines of new programs that he said may save money.

Most North Carolina school districts will not have to add five days to their upcoming school year. It's the second year that waivers have been granted from an extension mandated by the General Assembly. The State School Board authorized the waivers. Ninety-one of the state's 115 school districts have gotten them so far. Board Chairman Bill Harrison says teachers need those five days to prepare for new national curriculum standards. Plus, he says it would cost $14 million system-wide. State Senator Jerry Tillman is a major proponent of the school year extension.

A group of students from Greensboro is in Washington D.C. today helping First Lady Michelle Obama plant her White House garden.

Jeff Tiberii: Last year students at Sumner Elementary school students decided to plant their own garden, and sent letters to the First lady seeking advice. Last week the White House called and extended an invitation for five third graders, two teachers and the principal to visit the White House and receive gardening tips first hand. Principal Thyais Maxwell says the children are excited and the families emotional

In the Jim Crow South, the black community faced frequent violence and intimidation. Today in our series Voices for Civil Rights, hosted by Eric Hodge, we hear stories of encounters with the Ku Klux Klan.

Seth Kotch shares excerpts of three oral histories conducted by the Southern Oral History Program at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Robert Hayling experiences sudden, horrific violence at a Klan rally in Florida.

Duke University

The opening of Duke University’s campus in Kunshan, China has been delayed.

There’s a renewed fight over education funding. Dave DeWitt reports that the loss of federal stimulus money has republicans and democrats picking sides ahead of the legislature coming back to Raleigh.

A first-of-its-kind report describes corporal punishment practices across the state.

Jeff Tiberii: The study by Action for Children North Carolina details nearly 900 instances of corporal punishment that took place in the state last school year. Robeson, Columbus and McDowell counties accounted for 87-percent of all the corporal punishment. Tom Vitaglione wrote the study.

School districts are looking at every option to find funding for next year. This summer, a federal stimulus funding package ends, and could lead to teacher layoffs.

Dave DeWitt: Not every school district has what Wake County has a rainy day fund. Now, school board members are considering using a good chunk of the $35 million or so that’s in it to save 500 teacher jobs.

The Southern Oral History Program at UNC-Chapel Hill has just completed work on a new collection of interviews about the civil rights movement. Over the last year and a half, oral historians traveled the country to document the experiences of lay-people and leaders from the movement.

This series is part of a joint project between the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress. Seth Kotch coordinated the effort, and he's joining us each Friday to share some of what they found for a series we're calling Voices for Civil Rights.

Under a new proposal from Superintendent Tony Tata, The Wake County Schools budget will shrink by $24 million next year.

Dave DeWitt: Even with the cuts, Tata says there will be no teacher layoffs. In fact, he expects to be able to give teachers a one percent raise - their first in four years.

Forgive high school juniors if they're a little cranky this morning. Today is a major test day across the state and it's the first time juniors will be required to take the ACT. It's usually a test used by college admissions counselors to determine academic aptitude. But starting next year, the state Department of Public Instruction will use it to track student readiness for post-secondary education.

The ACT is one of two major college aptitude tests. Historically, more students in North Carolina have taken the SAT.

Nine new charter schools have been approved by the State Board of Education. They were fast-tracked after the legislature eliminated the cap on charter schools last summer.

Dave DeWitt: All nine schools were eventually approved by the State Board of Education, after some discussion. Many of the questions raised came from State Treasurer Janet Cowell, who wondered, among other things, about the future bond ratings for school districts that lose students to charters.

But in the end, the separate votes on each school were mostly unanimous.

Chatham County schools are trying to get kids to be more active through 'Eat Smart Move More' grants. The goal of the project is to encourage schools and teachers to integrate physical activity into the curriculum no matter what the discipline. Holly Coleman is with the Chatham County Health Department:

Perdue Boosts Pre-K

Feb 22, 2012
Governor Bev Perdue
NC Governor's Office

Two thousand more at-risk kids will be able to attend pre-kindergarten classes, starting in March. Governor Bev Perdue made the announcement today at a pre-school in Raleigh. Dave DeWitt reports.

Dave DeWitt: The state funds about one-third of the at-risk kids who qualify for pre-kindergarten. Last year, Superior Court Judge Howard Manning said that was illegal, and directed the legislature to fund all eligible children.

A new charter school may open in Chapel Hill next year. If approved by the State Board of Education, The Howard and Lillian Lee Scholars Academy would open in a new building and serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade with possible expansion into middle school down the road. Its stated mission is to close the achievement gap to help African-American students raise their performance on standardized tests. That will, in turn, improve graduation rates, and lead to greater college readiness.

Parents in Wake County are concerned about proposed changes to the school schedule.

Dave DeWitt: Superintendent Tony Tata says changes to the bell schedules in the district's 165 schools are necessary and would save 10 million dollars by making the bus system more efficient.

Schools affiliated with the non-profit North Carolina New Schools Project continue to show great promise in helping fight the state's dropout problem.

Dave DeWitt: When the State School Board released dropout rates for all schools earlier this month, it was good news. According to their data, fewer students were quitting school across the state.

A comprehensive testing program launched last year in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Schools has been abruptly shut down. Dave DeWitt reports that the tests drew a high number of parent complaints.

Dave DeWitt: 52 year-end tests were developed during the administration of superintendent Peter Gorman, for students as young as kindergarten. The idea was to gather more data on students -and then determine a baseline for future academic performance. Teachers would then be rewarded - or punished - if that student performed better or worse than expected.

Dave DeWitt

The UNC Board of Governors voted today to allow member schools to raise in-state student tuition by an average of 8.8 percent next year. They did so as around 100 protestors disrupted the meeting, banged on walls, and shouted their disapproval. One protestor was arrested.

Today's scene was the culmination of the stress caused by dwindling resources for public higher education. And as Dave DeWitt reports, the vote to increase tuition was a compromise no one is happy about.