Education

Credit CPB

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.

Anthony Tata
DC Schools

The Wake County School Board is apparently on the verge of hiring a new superintendent. Donna Haargens has served in the position as an interim since the spring.

Erskine Bowles is spending his last few days as president of the UNC system. Tom Ross takes over in January.

The Erskine Bowles Era was defined in his first few years by streamlining the 17-campus UNC system - and then, in the final years, because of the recession, fighting for dwindling resources.

Tom Ross takes over for Bowles at a time when those resources are likely to be at an all-time low. Ross was, most recently, the President of Davidson College. He says he hopes to have has much success courting state legislators as Bowles did:

NC State has received the largest gift in the University's history. Lonnie and Carol Johnson Poole have given $40 million, most of it to the College of Management.

Lonnie Poole is a graduate of NC State and founded Waste Industries USA in 1970. He led an investor group that took the company private for $550 million in 2008.

$37 million of Poole's $40million gift will go to the College of Management at NC State. That school will now be named for him. $2.5 million will go towards building a clubhouse at the university's golf course.

The Wake County School Board is one step closer to hiring a new superintendent. The new leader will be faced with several challenges involving the state’s largest school district.

A new superintendent will deal with a significant budget shortfall, a federal Title VI investigation, and a review by the agency that accredits the county’s high schools. On top of that, the school district’s top administrator will also inherit a deeply divided School Board.

That Board met last night behind closed doors. They interviewed candidates earlier this month at a hotel in Raleigh.

middle schoolers
Jane Van Middlesworth

At many middle schools, students have the option of enrolling in band classes to play music. But very few have their own marching bands. Northern Middle School in Greensboro is an exception to that rule. The band has made quite a name for itself in parades and concerts across the state. In fact it's so good that it has been invited to play at college football's Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida on New Year's Day.

Budget Cuts Could Cost Students

Dec 7, 2010

State education leaders are warning lawmakers that double-digit budget cuts will affect university and community college classrooms.

State lawmakers are looking for spending cuts to offset a $3.2 billion shortfall next year.  But higher education officials say a proposal to cut their budgets 10% would mean fewer seats, fewer classrooms, and higher tuition.  UNC Chief Operating Officer Jeff Davies says universities already sustained huge cuts in this year’s budget.  He says schools would have to raise tuition 6.5% just to keep their doors open:

Debra Goldman
Wake Schools

The Wake County School Board meets later today. One item on the agenda is a discussion on a revised student assignment plan for next year.

President Barack Obama will be in North Carolina today visiting students at Forsyth Technical Community College.

President Obama’s visit is the highlight of a year of celebrations at Forsyth Tech. The community college is 50-years-old.  For the first time in the school’s history – Forsyth Tech has more than 10-thousand students enrolled. Many of the students are laid off workers or those insecure about their current jobs.  Gary Green is president of Forsyth Tech. He says President Obama’s visit means a lot.

A new Republican majority on the Wake County Board of Commissioners plans to undo some efforts passed by the old Democratic majority.

A lot is expected to happen later today when the Wake County Commissioners meet for the first time with new members. The Republican Majority will rescind a resolution that expresses “deep concern” over the re-segregation of the Wake County schools.

The county commissioners have financial oversight over the schools.

The anti-re-segregation resolution passed last April.

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