Broad Education Bill Tackles Cursive, Mental Health And Too Much Testing

Jun 13, 2018

An omnibus education bill titled "Various Changes to Education Laws" emerged from a legislative committee Wednesday. Senators added a number of provisions to an existing bill that was originally only about cursive writing, multiplication tables and advanced math classes.

Here a few provisions in the bill, currently working its way through committee process:

School Districts Must Report If They Teach Cursive and Multiplication

An existing law  requires elementary schools to teach cursive writing and multiplication tables. That law has been in effect for five years. A state report released in March shows as many as half of school districts are not complying with the cursive requirement. This bill would require the Department of Public Instruction to identify which school districts are not in compliance with the law.

Access to Advanced Math Courses

The bill would require any student who receives a level 5 out of 5 on their end-of-year math tests be placed in advanced math classes the next year. Supporters say this will increase equitable access to those classes.

Mental Health Training Program

Following the Parkland school shooting, legislators have weighed new measures to improve mental health services in schools to promote school safety. This provision would require the Department of Public Instruction to develop a mental health training program that would cover youth mental health, suicide prevention, substance abuse and sexual abuse prevention.

Study to Reduce Testing

The bill would require the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to study and recommend ways to reduce student testing that is not otherwise required by state or federal law. State Superintendent Mark Johnson has spoken out against "overtesting" during public meetings and in a recent tweet.

Elsewhere in Education

Legislators are removing a $200,000 earmark for school supplies in Mecklenburg County. The funds were intended for 35 schools in northern Mecklenburg County, a district served by Republican Senator Jeff Tarte. He is facing a tough re-election campaign this fall and the funds were designed to give him a boost. However, the non-profit charged with directing the money – Donors Choose – publicly rejected the effort as a political stunt, and said it would not accept the appropriation.