Dave DeWitt

Reporter @DaveDeWitt

Dave DeWitt is currently working on the year-long North Carolina Teacher Project. He came to WUNC in 2003 and spent four years on the staff of The State of Things.

He regularly files for NPR’s news magazines as well as Marketplace and Only A Game. He is a graduate of Denison University and formerly worked in college athletics, college admissions, and with the Tar Heel Sports Network. In 2001, he wrote the non-fiction book "True Blue".

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Education
4:00 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Competitive Teaching? NC Wrestles With Paying Best Teachers More

Under the current teacher salary schedule, teachers are paid solely on years of experience.
Credit Dave DeWitt

This is an issue with way more than just two sides. To illustrate how convoluted and complicated paying teachers has become, consider this fairly simple argument from Terry Stoops, the Director of Education Studies at the conservative John Locke Foundation:

“Frankly it’s unfair to our highest-performing teachers,” Stoops says. “There’s no reason why the Teacher of the Year in North Carolina should make as much as any other teacher.”

Now here’s an actual, real life North Carolina Teacher of the Year, who, in a free market, would get paid more:

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Education
3:56 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Ranking Teachers: NC Bets Big On A Complicated Stats Model

State Senator Jerry Tillman addresses the Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force.
Credit Dave DeWitt

Next month, a million or so North Carolina public-school students between third and twelfth grade will start taking tests. Lots of them. Reading and math tests for the younger kids; biology, Algebra, and English for the older kids.

Their scores will be tabulated and run through some servers at SAS Institute, a private company in Cary. There, software called EVAAS will compare the test score the student earned to one a statistical model predicted the student should get.

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Education
4:00 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Evaluating Teachers: Part Art, Part Science, And More Important Than Ever

The North Carolina Teacher Evaluation includes six standards and 214 check boxes.
Credit Dave DeWitt

Remember fifth grade? Well, whatever comes to your mind is not anything close to what it’s like now, at least in Nick Taylor’s fifth grade class at Lake Myra Elementary School in eastern Wake County.

Tucker barks out instructions to his students, directing them to grab laptops and Ipads and get with their small groups to begin comparing and contrasting two different versions of The Three Little Pigs.

Quickly and efficiently, the students mobilize.

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Education
4:48 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Wake School Board Joins Opposition To 25 Percent Mandate

Broughton High School teacher Lee Quinn speaks out against the 25 percent mandate.
Credit Dave DeWitt

On Thursday nights, some Broughton High School teachers get together after school. And while other days might be spent collaborating with colleagues or coaching a team or tutoring students, this meeting is different. They are coming together to write letters to Legislators – explaining that they are unhappy, unappreciated, and unified.

For many, the State Legislature ending tenure and replacing it with a plan that will give bonuses and four-year contracts to the top 25 percent of teachers - if they relinquish their tenure rights now – was the last straw.

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Education
4:40 am
Mon March 3, 2014

No Apples, But Plenty Of Benefits To Being A Virtual Teacher

Julie Reeves, her daughter Abby, and her laptop.
Credit Dave DeWitt

The reason Julie Reeves left the classroom is sitting in her lap. And she has a bit of cold.

Abby is 6-months old, and she’s being held strategically by her mom, just out of arm’s reach of a laptop and her daily to-do list. The neatly-typed piece of paper shows when Reeves will need to check in on her students in Wilmington, Alamance County, and western North Carolina. She’s in Knightdale, and will use a variety of ways to make that connection, including using phone conversations, multimedia presentations, written assignments, and texting. 

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Education
4:48 am
Wed February 26, 2014

When A School And A Marriage Are The Same Thing

Carice Sanchez counsels a student at Henderson Collegiate.
Credit Dave DeWitt

For many, teaching is a calling. For others, like Eric and Carice Sanchez, it’s something a little more than that.

“It’s during the honeymoon during the early morning, getting up and checking to make sure the loan went through,” said Eric Sanchez, the co-founder and school leader at Henderson Collegiate. “But I guess those are the funny pieces that add to the story and add to the merger of a school and a relationship.”

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Snowstorm 2014
2:03 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Stranded At Southpoint, Employees Make The Best Of It

The Streets at Southpoint Mall served as a shelter for some during the snowstorm.
Credit Dave DeWitt

A normal Wednesday night at the Streets at Southpoint mall is a swirling mass of activity. Shoppers. Diners. Teenagers on escalators. But this Wednesday was not a normal night.

“Everybody seemed fine until they realized, oh shoot, it’s really coming down,” said Maureen White, an employee of the mall. “It came on so quick.”

Maureen proved pretty quick herself. About 1:30 in the afternoon she called the hotel across the street and booked a room.

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Environment
7:40 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Storm Forces Drivers To Abandon Vehicles, Set Out On Foot

Drivers stranded along the side of the road on highway 54 in Chapel Hill.
Credit Jennifer Coffman

The snow began falling in the Triangle around noon, causing many who were still at work to quickly head out on the roads. That caused major gridlock across the region. 

Hundreds if not thousands of motorists abandoned their vehicles along I-40 or the Raleigh Beltline or on the side of roads. Many walked home several miles through the snow.

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Education
4:31 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Republicans Hope Salary Increases Ease Teacher Turnover

The Emerging Issues Forum: Teachers and the Great Economic Debate drew more than 1,000 educators, policy makers, and lawmakers to the Raleigh Convention Center.
Credit Dave DeWitt

Diane Ravitch is an education historian. She’s also a best-selling author and hugely influential on social media. In the past few years, she’s also become the champion for traditional public school teachers. What she isn’t, is subtle.

“North Carolina is bleeding talent,” she told the crowd at the Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh on Tuesday. “North Carolina is bleeding experience. North Carolina has a brain drain caused by bad policy.”

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Education
5:34 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Pay Cuts, End Of Tenure Put North Carolina Teachers On Edge

Elementary school students in North Carolina stand outside their school in November, during an event organized by teachers to protest changes in public education.
Dave DeWitt WUNC

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 8:00 pm

Teacher salaries are losing ground fast in North Carolina.

Jennifer Spivey has been a teacher for three years at South Columbus High School, on the north side of the border between the Carolinas. She's been recognized as an outstanding teacher; she has a master's degree, and last summer she won a prestigious Kenan fellowship to improve education. But she still lives in her parents' basement.

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