Education

Credit CPB

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.

The UNC Board of Governors will decide today on raising tuition at the 17 member schools.

Leoneda Inge

North Carolina’s workforce continues to evolve as the economy evolves and digs its way out of the last recession.  The Institute for Emerging Issues at N-C State says in order to continue this positive trend, it is imperative for the state to begin strategically investing in Generation “Z.”  Most of the young people making up Generation “Z” were born in the 1990s and are approaching college age. Even though this group is the nation’s most diverse and most technologically savvy, how will they fit into the workplace of the future?

A conference opening today at Duke explores the ways in which the digital is transforming the humanities. It's called the CHAT Festival, short for Collaborations: Humanities, Art and Technology. Festival director Victoria Szabo says it will include exhibits in which art and technology come together in ways that challenge traditional distinctions.

This year’s Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh is taking a close-up look at the so-called Generation “Z.”  The conference sets out to better understand and prepare this age group.

College and university endowments are growing again. But as Dave DeWitt reports, the gains are not enough yet to cover losses over the last five years.

Duke University

The Duke family and hundreds of their closest friends and supporters filled Duke Chapel yesterday in Durham to say good-bye to Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.   Duke President Richard Brodhead described Semans as the university’s principal link to Duke’s founding generation.  Leoneda Inge produced this audio postcard from Semans’ funeral.

Music performer:  The Ciompi Quartet

The Rev. Dennis Campbell:  When Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans was born Duke University was no more than a twinkle in her great uncle’s eye.”

Tata Hits Milestone

Jan 30, 2012
Tony Tata
WCPSS

Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata has been on the job one year today. As Dave DeWitt reports, Tata has overcome a rocky start to earn the respect of former critics.

Dave DeWitt: The former Republican School Board majority hired Tata, and in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of the past several years, that means everything. In his introductory press conference last year, Tata tried to dispel the notion that he was there to do anyone’s bidding.

A new nursing program at East Carolina University and four area community colleges aims to train new nurses in their home communities. The goal is to increase the number of nurses with bachelor's degrees - to meet the growing demand for highly-trained clinicians and administrators. Kelly Cleaton is recruiting students for the program. She says qualified applicants will pursue their associate's degrees at their local community college, and eventually get their baccalaureates from ECU.

Mary D.B.T Semans
The Duke Endowment

A well-respected civic and philanthropic leader died yesterday in Durham.  Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans was the great grand-daughter of Washington Duke - for which Duke University is named.   Family ties also include The American Tobacco Company and what is known today as Duke Energy.  Semans will be remembered for her role in growing the arts in North Carolina, preserving health care for others and her fight for equality for women and African Americans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear arguments today in a case involving desegregation in Pitt County, the district that includes Greenville.

Dave DeWitt: Pitt County is one of just a few school districts in North Carolina still under a federal desegregation order from the 1970s. Because of that, the district must consider race when assigning students and teachers. Mark Dorosin is an attorney with the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Civil Rights. He says Pitt County's latest student assignment plan did not do that.

Lenovo has helped launch a new program that teaches mobile “app” development to high school students.

Leoneda Inge:  Lenovo and the National Academy Foundation are piloting the mobile “app” development program at five high schools across the country – including Apex High School.  Matthew Wight (white) is principal of Apex High School.  He hopes the program will help steer more students towards math, science and other STEM coursework.  He says they are excited.

Bennett College in Greensboro is looking to the future while noting recent growth from its past.

Jeff Tiberii: The all women’s historically black college will continue to grow in the next few years. Yesterday President Julianne Malveaux spoke to the board of trustees and several local officials about plans to raise enrollment to 1,000 students and build several new buildings on campus. All told, Malveaux estimates projects between 70 and 100 million dollars by 2020.

A new study out of UNC Chapel Hill's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute shows that high-quality early childhood education has dramatic effects on quality of life.

Dave DeWitt: In academic circles, the Abecedarian Project is renowned for its rare length. For 30 years, researchers have followed the same group of high-risk, largely African-American children. Half received intensive pre-school and child care; the other half did not.

A new study by Disability Rights North Carolina says the state is failing disabled children with complex treatment needs. Vicki Smith is the advocacy group's executive director. She says the state isn't following its own guidelines for treating children with both a mental illness and developmental disability.

Vicki Smith: These are kids, so there should be really good robust cooperation and collaboration between education and mental health and social services, because we have to treat the whole child.

Teachers Strike Back

Jan 5, 2012

Members of the state’s largest teachers’ organization woke up to the news this morning that their dues would no longer be automatically deducted from their paychecks. Dave DeWitt reports.

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