Education

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21-year-old Camirra Wilson graduated from N.C. State University this month. She was one of about 500 students across the state who were part of the last N.C. Teaching Fellows class.
Reema Khrais

This month, thousands of college students are walking across graduation stages and receiving their diplomas. Among them is a small group of 500 students across several campuses called North Carolina Teaching Fellows.

They’re the last of their kind to graduate – the state began dismantling the scholarship program in 2011. While the program has a 30-year-old legacy of recruiting teachers, filling classrooms remains to be a challenge that plagues the state today.

Wake Forest University

Stephen Colbert was at Wake Forest University this morning to give graduates a send-off with one of his trademark commencement speeches.

 

The comedian will soon make the switch from his own satirical political program to taking over David Letterman’s late-night talk show, but he first took some time to tell a new generation that the future looks, well… like a “dark chasm of yawning uncertainty.”

Wake Tech, Co-Curricular Transcripts
Melody Wiggins

Community college graduates at Wake Tech can now get a second transcript to show off their leadership, volunteerism and sports skills.

Wake Tech is the first community college in the state to offer Co-Curricular Transcripts or CCTs.

And Glenn Strumke is the first Wake Tech student to take advantage of the additional transcript that could help in a job search or school search.

UNC-Chapel Hill

In 1972, Frances Campbell was a mother of two, simply looking for a part-time job in Chapel Hill, when she stumbled upon what would be a groundbreaking study on early childhood education.

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill asked her to examine the benefits of early education on children from poor families. They called it the Abecedarian Project.

(Read a 1974 booklet that describes the project here.)

An Instagram photo posted by a teenager was the reason dozens of people showed up to Thursday’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board meeting.

The photo, which has made several headlines, features two girls waving North Carolina regiment flags at a school field trip to Gettysburg. Many say the photo has been interpreted out of context, but for others it speaks to larger issues of racial insensitivity and inequality in the school system and community.

A screen shot, shown above, shows the post and comments before they were taken down.

An image of students tossing their graduation caps
Ian Norman / Flickr

 

Famous speakers will address thousands of college students across the state for commencement ceremonies in the coming weeks. As people in the crowd turn their tassels, these speakers will step on stage and try to deliver inspiring stories and advice to charge a new generation of college graduates.

 

A picture of UNC grad turning their graduation tassle
UNC-Chapel Hill

Graduation ceremonies kick off this weekend for colleges and universities across North Carolina. But before hundreds of students walk across the stage to get their diploma, they will be charged by a commencement speaker. 

Speakers will share stories and words of wisdom as the graduates begin their next chapter. This year's roster ranges from a late-night talk show host to a U.S. Congressman. Here are the people students and attendees should look forward to hearing this graduation season.

Swartz
Reema Khrais

At the back of the library, Erik Swartz, a soft-spoken 14-year-old with shaggy hair, flips through papers. They’re rosters he found on Ancestry.com.

“It’s basically the document from the Japanese internment camp from rural Arkansas,” he says.

He scans the document, pointing to several names.

“Francis, my great-grandmother… Jane, one of my great-aunts,” he reads.

A class at the Francine Delany New School.
http://fdnsc.net/

Charter schools are taking off in North Carolina. Approximately 50 new charter schools have been founded since 2011 when the legislature lifted the 100-school cap on the number of charter schools. Now, the State Board of Education is considering applications for 17 more. 

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

North Carolina lawmakers passed several education-related bills on Wednesday, just hours before their legislative “crossover” deadline. Most bills that do not involve money must pass either chamber by Thursday at midnight to have a greater chance of surviving the session. Education bills passed by either chamber include:  

Greater Penalty For Assaulting Teachers

Student and teachers work in a physics lab at Central Piedmont Community College. Many first-generation students are low-income, and community colleges are the most affordable option for working towards a degree.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation / Flickr Creative Commons

When Judith Rosales visited UNC-Chapel Hill as a high school student through the Scholars' Latino Initiative program, she liked what she saw, but didn't quite know if there was a place for her at any college or university.

"I was never very confident that I would be able to go to college...it was really intimidating," Rosales told Frank Stasio of WUNC's The State of Things. 

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

House representatives in the state's General Assembly presented a bipartisan proposal on Thursday to create a scholarship program to help create highly-effective teachers.

The program, which received its first approval by a House Education Committee, would provide scholarship loans for individuals to attend “highly-effective” education schools. According to the bill, recipients would receive up to $8,500 per year.

“We need to attract and retain high-quality teachers and put them in the places where they’re needed the most,” said Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union).

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

A Senate committee approved a plan on Wednesday that would keep school employees from taking part in political activity during work hours.

Senate Bill 480 would prohibit school employees from campaigning for office while they're on the job or using any work resources, like telephones or computers, for political reasons.

Bill sponsors say state employees already follow similar rules, and that the measure is intended to mirror them. Currently, North Carolina’s 115 school districts abide by different rules for its employees.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State Representatives approved or considered bills on Tuesday that would address sexual assault on college campuses, as well as study the possibilities of giving college students fixed tuition and K-12 students competency exams. Representatives defeated a bill that could've given pay to college football and basketball players.

Addressing Sexual Assault On Campus  

Eighth-grade students Yasmine Boufedji, Angelycia Bogart, Dunya Alkaissi, and Nassir Jordan.
Reema Khrais

As principal Mussarut Jabeen makes her way to the playground, two very young girls run to her, pleading for undivided attention. The first shows off a temporary henna tattoo.

“Oh look at your henna, it’s so pretty,” exclaims Jabeen, principal of Al-Iman, a private Islamic school in Raleigh.

The other girl has just fallen and scraped herself.

“Oh, my little,” Jabeen says. “How about we wash it?”

Aerial view of Wayne Community College campus
North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees

Updated Friday, April 17, 1:46 p.m.

Wayne Community College in Goldsboro has closed for the weekend. The college website says it closed at 10 a.m. Friday morning after receiving "several threatening phone calls over the last two days."

College authorities say the campus was not in danger today and acted "purely from a precautionary perspective."

The book cover to "An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth."
Little, Brown and Company

Astronaut Chris Hadfield was first inspired to pursue a career in space travel at 9 years old after watching the Apollo 11 Moon landing on television. The desire to explore space led him to the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, the Canadian Armed Forces and eventually to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

Despite concerns of overcriminalization, a Senate committee on Wednesday gave the first nod to a bill that would make it a felony offense for older students to assault school employees.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) said the provision would protect school personnel who faced more than 1,300 assaults in the last school year, according to the Department of Public Instruction.

“It needs some serious attention to highlight that this is a problem and you will get more than a slap on a hand if this occurs,” said Tillman.

Katherine Stewart's book investigates a Bible study club with chapters in thousands of U.S. schools.
PublicAffairs

In 2009, journalist Katherine Stewart heard that something called The Good News Club was coming to her daughter’s public elementary school in Santa Barbara, California.

At first she thought its mission seemed benign, but once she began to look into the organization and how it operated, she felt compelled to dig in further.

noose
Duke People of Color Caucus Tumblr

Duke Officials say they have identified the person who hung a noose outside the Bryan Student Center yesterday. 

Officials did not release the name of the person, citing the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. They did say the person was an undergraduate student and is no longer on campus.

Tips from other students led campus investigators to the individual, who admitted to the act.

A picture of a spiral bound notebook.
Solja Virkkunen / Creative Commons

Durham County will move forward with a  program that offers educational services for incarcerated youth.

During a six-month pilot program, the Durham Literacy Center provided male inmates ages 16-to-24 with life skills and job readiness training.

Brian Jones from the Durham County Sheriff's Office says the program will now be expanded to include female inmates and will help prepare youth to take the General Equivalency Development (GED) test.

Flickr via Cynthia Ahrens / Flickr

Some North Carolina lawmakers are looking to make changes to the state's new A-F grading system for public schools. 

In February, public schools received their first-ever grade based on how well their students performed on standardized tests and how much academic growth they made. Almost 30 percent of schools received Ds and Fs, most of which had large populations of low-income children. 

The grades were calculated on a 15-point scale, so schools received As if they scored between 85-90 and Fs if they scored below 39.

Vivian Connell

When Vivian Connell was in college, she was already a teachers' advocate. She was on CNN in the network's early years to talk about a teacher's wrongful termination at the University of Georgia. But she wanted more people to hear her voice.

When Vivian became a teacher, she amplified it through her students. They advocated for land conservancies and against genocide in Africa. But she still wanted to be louder.

students with laptops in classroom
Enokson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Some North Carolina lawmakers are trying to pass a bill they say will help ease the burdensome paperwork teachers face. They want to get rid of “personal education plans," documents teachers are required to fill out to help students who are at-risk of failing.  

Many teachers and advocates see them as inefficient, raising questions about how to adequately support struggling students.

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
David Melchior Diaz / Flickr Creative Commons

In 1944, Nazi soldiers sent Zev Harel and his family to the Auschwitz concentration camp. He was 14 years old.

Harel stayed alive by lying about his age, and he endured a 400-mile trip to the Ebensee concentration camp in Austria where he was forced to build underground storage tunnels for Nazi weapons.

    

Seventy years later, the horrific stories of survivors like Zev Harel live on through North Carolina's yearly remembrance of the Holocaust. 

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