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.

Ways To Connect

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / flickr

  North Carolina’s high schools will move to a 10-point grading scale in 2015-16, going into effect with next year's freshmen. 

The State Board of Education approved the change on Thursday, moving away from the 7-point scale that has long been in place.

The 7-point scale means that a score between 93 and 100 is an A, 85-92 is a B, and so on.

Under the new scale, an A will be 90 to 100, and an 80 will be the lowest B. Scores below 60 will be considered failing.  

NC Teacher Project
Dave DeWitt

During lunchtime, school counselor Kim Hall takes a break from her desk and roams the hallways of Providence Grove High School.

On her five-minute walk, she encourages a senior to apply to UNC, consoles a student dealing with a scratchy throat and reminds a young teenager to see a teacher.

“We try to make sure that we’re accessible to students during their free times,” Hall says.

Hall has been a school counselor for 29 years. She says she tries to make more time for students as her clerical duties have grown over the years.

This photo was taken at the first meeting of the review commission.
Reema Khrais

A state commission reviewing the Common Core academic standards for public school students met for the first time on Monday.

The politically-appointed commission has until December 2015 to look over the English and Math standards, and possibly make recommendations to the NC State Board of Education.   

The review comes after months of complaints from parents and teachers. Many of them say the math and English standards are developmentally inappropriate for younger children, while others have equated Common Core to a federal takeover of education.

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

Wake County officials are drafting new plans to reassign some students next school year.

School reassignment has been one of the most contentious topics in the Wake County school system. Officials didn't make any assignment changes last year for the current school year because only one new school opened up.

But 17 new schools are slated to open in the next few years to keep pace with the fast-growing county.

“Twenty-two babies are born every day in Wake County hospitals,” said school board member Christine Kushner. “That’s a kindergarten class born every day.”

Senate Majority PAC
Senate Majority PAC/YouTube

Education is a central theme in the race between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis. Both U.S. Senate candidates have highlighted the issue as they try to gain an advantage in what has been a tight contest. 

Hagan has argued that Tillis is not prioritizing public schools and education. She claims that he cut about $500 million in education spending.

“His priorities even speak louder than his words,” Hagan said during her first debate with Tillis. “...The fact that he gave tax cuts to the millionaires. He cut education by $500 million.”

East Chapel Hill High School students
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

 More public school students passed their standardized exams last year than in the previous year, in part because of changes to the grading scale that made it easier for students to be considered proficient.

The overall passing rate, across all subjects, was about 56 percent. Results are based on end-of-grade tests in reading, science and math, and end-of-course tests in three high school subjects.

Kindergarten teacher Daly Romero Espinal teaches her students basic Spanish commands on the first day of school at Martin Millennium Academy.
Reema Khrais

In rural Edgecombe County, North Carolina, community members are welcoming a new school they say will help transform their district, and its academic reputation.

It’s a unique K-8 school with international teachers and a curriculum focused on global education. Some students will also have the opportunity to take all of their instruction in Spanish.

The new school is trying to create global communities for its students.

Gavel
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

Supporters of private school vouchers are trying to put the state’s program back on course. Attorneys are asking the North Carolina Supreme Court to overturn a recent ruling that halts the program.

A superior court judge ruled last week that using taxpayer dollars to help send children to private schools is unconstitutional.

But critics say the program gives low-income families school choice and that freezing the funds has put hundreds of families in limbo.

Gavel
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

 A Wake County Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered a stop to the use of taxpayer money to pay tuition at private or religious schools.

Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the private school voucher program, also known as Opportunity Scholarships, is unconstitutional on several accounts. Advocates say they plan to appeal the decision.

Hobgood said the program pays for students to attend schools that are not obliged to meet state curriculum requirements, violating the state constitution's guarantee for students to have an opportunity to a sound, basic education.

North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / www.flickr.com/photos/statelibrarync/8634329145/

  After a prolonged legislative session marked by delayed talks and Republican infighting, the General Assembly has finished its work and adjourned for the year.

The short session dragged on as lawmakers struggled to compromise over key issues, including teacher pay and coal ash. Legislators managed to strike a last-minute deal on Wednesday that would work to remove coal ash from 33 ponds across the state.

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