Credit CPB

On November 12th, WUNC’s The State of Things and Leadership Triangle join forces to present an issues forum on the school-to-prison pipeline, one in a series of forums organized to educate the public on important issues facing our region. 

Students used a ratings chart to help select their candidates.
Carolyn Kreuger / Kids Voting Durham

Durham voters will elect their mayor and city councilors Tuesday, but thousands of Durham kids and teenagers will be holding their own election.

Last week at Hillside High School in Durham, civics teacher Nicholas Gruber-Grace set aside a few minutes of third period for his students to review the candidates in Durham’s municipal election.

A group of students, parents and community organizers held a press conference Wednesday to urge Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools to provide a more supportive environment for people of color.
Reema Khrais

A coalition of students, parents and community organizers is calling on Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools to close the achievement gap between minority and white students.

In a recent report, the group, The Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools, urges school leaders to increase access to gifted education programs, provide a race-conscious curriculum and to require training on implicit bias.

School officials say they’re listening to community members and have been developing a long-range plan that holds teachers more accountable. 

The map above shows changes in eighth grade reading scores from 2013 to 2015. North Carolina was one of 13 states that lost ground.
National Assessment of Educational Progress

Eighth grade math and reading scores fell in North Carolina, but fourth grade reading scores increased according an assessment known as the Nation's Report Card.

ASRC members listen to public comment by anti-Common Core activists and parents. The commission was formed at the behest of lawmakers who oppose Common Core.
Jess Clark

Wake Ed Partnership, a business-supported education foundation, is urging parents to tell the commission reviewing the state’s K-through-12 academic standards that they want to keep Common Core. 

John Fennebresque
Dave DeWitt

John Fennebresque has resigned his seat on the UNC Board of Governors, effectively immediately. An attorney from Charlotte, Fennebresque had served as Board Chair since 2014.

Last year, he oversaw a controversial review of UNC academic centers that some called politically motivated. It eventually led to the closing of the UNC-Chapel Hill Law School’s Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, among others.

Margaret Spellings
Dave DeWitt

Margaret Spellings has spent her professional life in the eye of the political storm. She served President George W. Bush as Education Secretary and political advisor. And now that she’s the choice of the UNC Board of Governors to be the new UNC system president, it’s not going to get any less windy.

First, let’s start with those who believe they have hired a quote “game-changer.”

UNC Board of Governors
Dave DeWitt

The UNC Board of Governors is deeply divided over how to elect a new leader.

Some board members have called for the resignation of chair John Fennebresque after he called an emergency closed-door meeting to interview a candidate.

Emails reveal several board members accused Fennebresque of botching the hiring process which started after President Tom Ross was forced to resign earlier this year. 

The division represents a split within the Republican members of the board.

Jennifer Schrand was one of several anti-Common Core activists who spoke at the meeting.
Jess Clark

A state commission reviewing the Common Core standards heard from a few parents and activists yesterday. Opponents were especially vocal.

Jennifer Schrand was one of several speakers aligned with anti-Common Core groups. She told the academic standards review commission her fourth-grade daughter struggles with the new math standards, which stress more theoretical understanding.

UNC Board of Governors
Dave DeWitt

The UNC Board of Governors is meeting behind closed doors Friday in Cary amid strong disagreements over the search for a new system president.

Chinese Educators Tour North Carolina Schools

Oct 16, 2015
Chinese educators from Xuzhou checked out a middle school art class at DSA.
Jess Clark

Principals and administrators from the city of Xuzhou visited Durham School of the Arts (DSA) on Thursday.

They are the third group of Chinese educators to tour North Carolina schools this year through UNC’s Center for International Understanding (CIU).

Julie McGaha, K-12 program director for CIU, said the purpose of the visit is to give Chinese leaders in education a more nuanced understanding of American public schools.

"They can take these things back to their province, to their school," McGaha said.

Vance County Schools, Rural Schools
Leoneda Inge

Western Vance High School near Henderson is not your traditional high school.  It’s a “second chance” school for students who could not find success at their home school.  That means they likely were not going to graduate.  And in these times, that also means it would be extremely hard to find a job.

In our series, Perils and Promise:  Educating North Carolina’s Rural Students, we talk with students at Western Vance as they move closer to getting a diploma.

Rural Schools, Vance County Schools, Western Vance
Leoneda Inge

Rural counties across the state are not experiencing the economic recovery underway in the Triangle, Triad or in the Charlotte Mecklenburg region.  The unemployment rate is higher, the poverty rate is higher and the high school drop-out rate is higher.

Jaine / Flickr Creative Commons

A tentative pay schedule from the Wake County school board bumps up Wake’s local contribution to teacher’s salaries. Teachers would see increases from $875 to $3,202, depending on experience and specialty.

The plan also gives a 3-percent raise to non-faculty employees, such as bus drivers and maintenance workers and increases additional pay for teachers with extra duties, such as coaching and advising.

Amy Thompson lives in teacher housing for Hertford County Schools.
Jess Clark

Amy Thompson lives in a seemingly typical two-bedroom apartment.

There's wall-to wall carpet, neutral walls, a comfy looking couch set, and a dining room table arranged with bright autumn leaves.

Student, Classroom, school, class
Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

More teachers are leaving North Carolina to teach in other states, according to a report from the Department of Public Instruction.

It shows 1,082 of the state’s teachers left for classrooms in other parts of the country last year. That’s more than triple the number that left for other states in 2010.

Flickr via Cynthia Ahrens / Flickr

Lawmakers pushed a bill through the Senate that would divert more money from school districts to charter schools.

Under current law, school districts have pots of funding they don’t have to share with charter schools. These pots include supplemental property tax revenues, as well as federal funding for providing school lunches and transportation, which most charters don’t provide.

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

Many school districts in North Carolina are looking for ways to fund some of their teacher positions after changes in the state budget.  

Under the spending plan passed last week, school officials are no longer allowed to use money set aside for teacher assistants to pay for teachers.

An image of UNC's Old Well
yeungb / Wikipedia Creative Commons

It may seem like the school year just started, but pretty soon high school seniors and other aspiring college students will start submitting applications for next year’s college enrollment.

George Gopen, professor emeritus of the practice of rhetoric at Duke University
Duke University

George Gopen thought it was a riot when he beat his college roommate in a pun contest.

"If you keep maltreating your girlfriend, she will send you a dijon letter that says poupon you."

While he loves to pun, Gopen does not take words lightly.

He has spent 45 years teaching literature, composition and rhetoric; the complexities and eloquence of the English language.

So when he heard President George W. Bush give a muddled speech in 2001, George Gopen felt compelled to write the White House.

College graduates in 2013 at Syracuse University. Say Yes has another partner community in Syracuse, New York
Chris Becker / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of donors is going start paying for Guilford County students’ in-state college tuition next year. 

Several Guilford County organizations and Guilford County schools have partnered with a national foundation called Say Yes to Education. Together they've raised $32.6 million in private donations for an endowment to cover tuition costs for the district's students at all in-state public colleges and universities, as well as 100 nation-wide private universities, including Duke University and Harvard University.

condoms sex ed
Courtesy of

Lawmakers want to allow more types of experts to weigh in on sex education materials under a bill that advanced through the House Wednesday.

Under current law, experts in sexual health education are the only experts who can approve materials for sex education courses in public schools. But the bill the House approved Wednesday allows schools to use materials approved by experts in several additional fields.

Reema Khrais

This summer, North Carolina senators pushed a plan to cut thousands of teacher assistants. Educators from across the state rallied against the idea, and in the budget compromise unveiled this week, lawmakers decided to keep funding for teacher assistants.

But there’s a catch, and it’s one that many educators say is problematic.

Under the budget deal, schools would be required to use money for teacher assistants for only that. Nothing else.

school bus
wikimedia commons

Wake County schools is transporting more students with fewer buses this year.

The school district cut 70 buses from its routes—even while the number of riders jumped by about 1,500.

"Our transportation funding has decreased at the same time that our student ridership has increased," said Lisa Luten, a spokeswoman for the district. "And so those two factors really pushed us to look at our transportation and see how we could improve it. "

As a new teacher for Wake County Schools, Vasti Rodriguez earns one of the highest local salary supplements in the state.
Jess Clark

Schools faced teacher shortages as students returned to the classroom last month. School districts across the state have different challenges when it comes to finding teachers, depending on where they’re located.

Rural districts, most of which offer lower salaries than urban districts, can find it especially tough to recruit new teachers, but they’re coming up with some creative solutions.