Reema Khrais

Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.

A North Carolina native, Reema began her radio career with Carolina Connection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an anchor and reporter. She later interned at The Story, and traveled to Cairo, Egypt to produce stories from the 2011 revolution. Her work has also appeared on CNN, The Takeaway and On The Media.

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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.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

This summer, North Carolina lawmakers unveiled controversial education proposals - like ending funding for driver's education, and slashing money for teacher assistant positions to pay for more teachers. After months of press conferences, closed-door negotiations and loud floor debates, lawmakers released details of their budget deal this week. Below are some of the K-12 education highlights: 

This summer, sophomore Anna Clemons spent a really long time trying to find an off-campus apartment.

She visited different complexes with her dad, took notes and made neat lists of pros and cons.

"They're really expensive here," she says. "I don't know how they can afford that, but I can't."

Some of the places were more expensive than the dorms at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she's a student. But then she found one that made sense with her budget.

The apartment is simple: fully carpeted, one bathroom and lots of beige.

Jorge Valencia

 

Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore outlined a two-year spending plan this afternoon that would maintain funding for elementary school teaching assistants, high school drivers’ education classes, and gives state employees a one-time bonus of $750.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

Republican legislative leaders say they're getting closer to reaching a deal on the state budget and will likely vote on it next Wednesday or Thursday.

On Twitter, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore wrote that he met with Senate Leader Phil Berger until midnight on Tuesday, trying to craft a final spending plan.

Senate budget writer Harry Brown says the House and Senate have come to terms on most of the budget items, including spending for driver's education. 

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

Almost thirty percent of public schools in North Carolina have received D and F grades, according to data the state released today.

Most of those D and F schools have high percentages of students who come from poverty. Last year’s scores showed a very similar trend. Democratic leader Larry Hall said he’s not surprised, and that the state needs to invest more in public education.

Fingers on a keyboard, computer,
Wikimedia Commons

For the first time in North Carolina, public school students can take all of their classes online by logging on to their computers at home.

This summer, the state opened two virtual charter schools, N.C. Connections Academy and N.C. Virtual Academy. Both schools have met their enrollment caps of 1,500 students, and families are on wait lists, according to the principals.

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

Parents and local groups have filed a lawsuit against the Halifax County Board of Commissioners, arguing that it fails to offer every student with the opportunity of a sound, basic education, as required by the state constitution.

Plaintiffs, which include three parents/guardians, the local NAACP chapter and the Coalition for Education and Economic Security, contend the board should merge the county's three school districts into one system. 

Glenwood Elementary students
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

 A state commission reviewing the Common Core standards is proposing major changes to the Math and English goals.

The 11-member group presented draft recommendations on Monday that call for a restructuring of high school math, a stronger emphasis on writing and, overall, clearer goals that are more “developmentally appropriate.” 

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

School leaders, not the state, should decide if they want to hire teachers or teacher assistants, according to Governor Pat McCrory.

In their budget proposal, state senators are calling for schools to cut back on the equivalent of about 8,500 teacher assistants and use the extra money to hire about 2,000 teachers and reduce classroom sizes. House lawmakers would keep funding intact.

On Thursday, McCrory chimed in on the debate, arguing that decisions over staffing should come from principals and superintendents who understand the needs of their students.   

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