American Graduate

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

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

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?”

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.

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.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

State leaders in charge of recommending changes to the Common Core standards heard on Monday from two national critics who suggested a complete rewrite of the Math and English Language Arts goals.

Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram both served on the Common Core Validation Committee from 2009-10 and refused to sign off on them as being “rigorous, internationally competitive or research-based.” They were among five of the 29 committee members who didn’t approve them.

Wren in Durham admires a snowman she and some neighbors made.
Catherine Brand

Wake County public school leaders say don't intend to change their decision to use spring break for snow makeup days, despite rising concerns from families and teachers.

Officials are assuring students and teachers that schools will do their best to make sure they aren’t penalized if they can’t attend those days.

An online petition has garnered more than 7,700 signatures, urging Wake County school leaders to “bring back spring break.” Many of the comments explain that they've already paid for their vacations and can’t get refunds.

Millbrook High School A. P. Human Geography teacher Mark Grow at work
Reema Khrais, WUNC

Many North Carolina students have been in class for only two days in the last two weeks because of the icy weather. But that doesn’t mean some of them haven’t been learning, or that teachers have stopped teaching.

On Friday morning at Millbrook High School in Wake County, Mark Grow carefully sidestepped an icy pathway where someone was shoveling.

“It’s been pretty slippery trying to get in and out of the building,” he said as he walked inside a school pod.

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday morning on a case challenging the constitutionality of the state’s private school voucher program.

The status of private school vouchers in North Carolina has been in flux ever since two lawsuits were filed in December 2013 that seek to end the vouchers, or Opportunity Scholarships. The North Carolina Association of Educators and the NC Justice Center filed a suit on behalf of 25 plaintiffs, while the NC School Boards Association filed a second lawsuit.

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