Education

Credit CPB

The North Carolina Association of Educators will hold its annual convention in Raleigh today. The teachers' group is also expected to march through the city streets.

North Carolina's teachers are facing thousands of potential layoffs across the state and a nationwide trend portraying them as entrenched and ineffective.

Wake County high schools have been placed on “accredited warned” status by the agency that accredits them.

The AdvancED report (pdf) states that the school board has"created a climate of uncertainty, suspicion, and mistrust throughout the community."

Imam Speaks At UNC

Mar 16, 2011

UNC-Chapel Hill is hosting a lecture later today by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. He's the man at the heart of a controversial plan to build an Islamic Center near ground zero in lower Manhattan. Bill Balthrop is a professor in the department of communication studies at UNC. He says the Imam will talk about religious tolerance and pluralism in the United States during this year's Weil Lecture on American Citizenship:

North Carolina State University is reorganizing many of its departments and services to prepare for more budget cuts. The plan includes eliminating at least five high-ranking positions and merging different student services under one roof. State officials have told public schools to prepare for budget cuts of as much as 15 percent. N.C. State has seen budget cuts every year since 2007.

Paying For The Future

Mar 15, 2011
School bus
Dave Dewitt

Today is child advocacy day at the State Legislature. Hundreds of people who support early childhood development programs like Smart Start and More at Four are expected to descend on Raleigh. They will argue that the programs provide much-needed support to low-income families.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist University Hospital have been able to regrow simple body parts out of injured patients' own cells.  Anthony Atala and his colleagues at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine have been able to rebuild the urethras of boys injured or born with birth defects. The urethra is the tube that drains the bladder. Atala says he harvests cells from other parts of the patients' bodies. Then he uses a special mesh framework for the cells to grow around.

Tony Tata has been the Superintendent of Wake County Schools for 37 days. In that time, he has visited nearly 40 schools and met with countless groups. The past week was particularly busy for Tata. He met with some of the people who have been the most highly critical of the School Board majority that hired him - including NAACP President William Barber. Tata’s latest event took place at Martin Street Baptist Church, in front of an audience predisposed to dislike him.

Duke University announced today the largest gift in the school’s history. The Duke Endowment of Charlotte gave the University $80 million dollars.

The money will go to renovating West Union and the Page Auditorium on West Campus. West was the student union before the Bryan Center opened in 1982. The renovated building will be used for student social space and dining.

Page Auditorium will also undergo an extensive renovation as will Baldwin Auditorium on East Campus. Both spaces will be modernized and updated to hold concerts and speeches.

The joint House-Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee is hosting a public comment session today in the State Legislature. They want to hear what people have to say on proposed budget cuts to education.

Wake County Schools staff will get together this week to begin discussing a way forward on the controversial issue of student assignment. Superintendent Tony Tata is convening a special task force that will develop a new plan.

The members of the task force have their work cut out for them – find a plan a divided school board and community can get behind.

Much of their work will be focused on dissecting the plan offered by the Wake Education Partnership and the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Students at Wake Technical Community College will face serious consequences if they decide to smoke on campus. College administrators hope new regulations that go into effect today will compel students to comply with the school's tobacco-free policy. Wake Tech spokeswoman Laurie Clowers says the new level of enforcement involves strict disciplinary action. 

"The third offense will result in a three-day suspension from classes. And after that if students refuse to cooperate or there are more than three offenses, they will be suspended for the remainder of the semester."

A North Carolina Appeals Court today heard a case against the Wake County School system. Plaintiffs say the Wake School Board broke laws regarding open public meetings.

The Wake School Board meeting on March 23rd was contentious and crowded. So crowded, in fact, that several news outlets offered to pay for the meeting to be moved to the Performing Arts Center downtown.

A group of parents in Guilford County wants daily recess in elementary schools. They will present a petition along with supporting research to a Board of Education meeting tonight. Currently, elementary school principals in Guilford County decide how students spend the time that's dedicated to physical activity . Parent Amy Hanson says recess helps children learn.

"Kids need a break from concentration, for their brains to process the information that they've taken in and to refresh them to learn more. Kids are also better behaved after recess and can focus more on learning."

Thales Academy
Dave Dewitt

Two bills making their way through the State Legislature have the potential to dramatically change public education in North Carolina. The first is a public charter school bill that is likely to pass. It will raise the cap on the number of charter schools in the state and make other changes that would make it easier to open and operate a charter school.

The State Legislature is making good on its promise to change laws that govern charter schools. But some public school advocates say the current bill is too far-reaching.

The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program has awarded Johnston County a $20,000 grant to battle teen driving crashes. County spokesman Robin Gurgainus says there have been 39 teenagers killed in accidents in the past six years, giving Johnston the second-highest rate in the state.

"A lot of these accidents are single-car accidents due to speed and not wearing a seatbelt. You know, I was a paramedic for 5 years. If you don’t wear a seatbelt, a minor accident can kill you."

Tata Takes Over

Jan 31, 2011

Wake County’s new school superintendent takes office officially today. Tony Tata takes the reins of a school system facing major challenges.

Tata’s background is already well-known to those who pay attention to the Wake Schools. He’s a retired brigadier general with less than two years experience in education, hired by a deeply divided school board. He made positive impressions even on his detractors during a series of formal and informal events earlier this month. And even with a looming budget crisis, Tata will likely be judged on the issue of student assignment.

Duke University is expanding its offerings in the history of economics. The university received a grant for a fellowship and visiting scholars program, and a summer teaching institute. Bruce Caldwell is an economics researcher and founder-director of Duke's Center for the History of Political Economy. He says this field is rarely studied anymore.

Community Colleges May Bar 'Dangerous' Students

Jan 25, 2011

Advocates for people with mental health disabilities are crying foul over a rule proposed by the state board of community colleges to screen students who might be a threat.

The proposed rule has been under consideration since last fall. It would allow community colleges to deny admission to students who are deemed to be an 'articulable, imminent and significant threat.' The rule was approved by the state board Friday.

Megan Hoenk works for the state board of community colleges. She says the rule doesn't mandate anything.

Criticism of the Wake County School Board's decision to do away with the diversity policy is growing.

The latest wave of criticism came after a page one story appeared in the Washington Post last week, linking the Board Majority to the Tea Party. That prompted the U.S. Secretary of Education to weigh in in a letter to the editor.

The disagreement between the Wake County School Board and the agency that accredits its high schools will continue. The School Board voted last night not to drop the accrediting agency.

The Board deliberated for two hours before deciding to send another letter to AdvancED. The letter will ask the accrediting agency to limit the scope of its investigation.

The vote was the latest in a months-long fight. It began when the North Carolina NAACP sent a letter of complaint to AdvancED, claiming the Wake School Board was not living up to its policies.

The spat between the Wake County School Board and the agency that accredits its high schools may soon come to an end. The result may be that the high school lose their accreditation.

Accreditation is a voluntary process. School districts like it because it gives them an idea of what may be working and what isn't. 

But when AdvancED told the Wake School Board it was launching an investigation in the fall, the republican majority on the School Board balked. They felt AdvancED was overstepping its authority.

Student assignment is again on the agenda at five public hearings in Wake County.

Tony Tata
Wash. DC Schools

Tony Tata is spending more time in the Triangle today. The retired brigadier general is the new superintendent in Wake County.

Wake County has a new School Superintendent. Anthony Tata was confirmed Thursdaynight in a 4-to-2 vote by the Wake County School Board.

Tata is not your every day public school administrator. He’s a West Point graduate and former brigadier general who writes Tom-Clancy style thrillers. Most recently, he was Chief Operating Officer at the Washington DC schools, in charge of purchasing and operations. The year and a half he spent in that job is his only experience in education.

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