American Graduate

school bus
Reema Khrais

Franklin County Public Schools are one of a handful of districts in the state bound by court desegregation orders. The federal orders are what helps keeps the schools among the most racially balanced in the state at a time when many districts are re-segregating.

The Durham County Board of Education passed a resolution demanding the legislature repeal the A-F grading system.
Jess Clark

UPDATED Dec. 4, 2015

Friday was the deadline for schools and districts labeled low-performing to submit their improvement plans. State law has designated 581 schools as low-performing based on student test scores. But some districts are speaking out against the A-F school grading system and lawmakers’ moves to toughen it.

A group of student protesters interrupted a UNC town hall meeting about race and inclusion to present their demands.
Reema Khrais

A town hall about race and inclusion on UNC’s campus Thursday drew loud protests and candid reflections from students. The discussion comes on the heels of several campus protests across the country related to racial issues.


classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

A coalition of community members has filed a federal complaint accusing the Harnett County school board of perpetuating racial inequalities within its school system.

Litigation, legal, gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

Thirty-four North Carolina school districts are suing the state for more than $46 million they say should have gone to fund public schools.

The funds in question are penalties the state collects from drivers for taking unsafe vehicles on the road. Since the passage of the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2011, the state has been funneling $50 penalties for "improper equipment" to county jails to pay to house people convicted of minor crimes.

school bus
wikimedia commons

State School Board Chairman Bill Cobey and State Superintendent June Atkinson are exploring using a new authority that allows the board to merge adjacent county school districts.

Republican Phil Berger of Eden is president pro tempore of the state Senate.
http://www.ncleg.net/

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger made blunt remarks about public school reform at a recent gathering held by Best NC, a business-backed education advocacy group.

He suggested “scrapping schools of education” and likened investing in teacher assistants to investing in manual typewriters.

“The stakes are too high to be risk and conflict adverse when it comes to education policy,” he argued.

Students used a ratings chart to help select their candidates.
Carolyn Kreuger / Kids Voting Durham

Durham voters will elect their mayor and city councilors Tuesday, but thousands of Durham kids and teenagers will be holding their own election.

Last week at Hillside High School in Durham, civics teacher Nicholas Gruber-Grace set aside a few minutes of third period for his students to review the candidates in Durham’s municipal election.

A group of students, parents and community organizers held a press conference Wednesday to urge Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools to provide a more supportive environment for people of color.
Reema Khrais

A coalition of students, parents and community organizers is calling on Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools to close the achievement gap between minority and white students.

In a recent report, the group, The Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools, urges school leaders to increase access to gifted education programs, provide a race-conscious curriculum and to require training on implicit bias.

School officials say they’re listening to community members and have been developing a long-range plan that holds teachers more accountable. 

The map above shows changes in eighth grade reading scores from 2013 to 2015. North Carolina was one of 13 states that lost ground.
National Assessment of Educational Progress

Eighth grade math and reading scores fell in North Carolina, but fourth grade reading scores increased according an assessment known as the Nation's Report Card.

ASRC members listen to public comment by anti-Common Core activists and parents. The commission was formed at the behest of lawmakers who oppose Common Core.
Jess Clark

Wake Ed Partnership, a business-supported education foundation, is urging parents to tell the commission reviewing the state’s K-through-12 academic standards that they want to keep Common Core. 

Jennifer Schrand was one of several anti-Common Core activists who spoke at the meeting.
Jess Clark

A state commission reviewing the Common Core standards heard from a few parents and activists yesterday. Opponents were especially vocal.

Jennifer Schrand was one of several speakers aligned with anti-Common Core groups. She told the academic standards review commission her fourth-grade daughter struggles with the new math standards, which stress more theoretical understanding.

Chinese Educators Tour North Carolina Schools

Oct 16, 2015
Chinese educators from Xuzhou checked out a middle school art class at DSA.
Jess Clark

Principals and administrators from the city of Xuzhou visited Durham School of the Arts (DSA) on Thursday.

They are the third group of Chinese educators to tour North Carolina schools this year through UNC’s Center for International Understanding (CIU).

Julie McGaha, K-12 program director for CIU, said the purpose of the visit is to give Chinese leaders in education a more nuanced understanding of American public schools.

"They can take these things back to their province, to their school," McGaha said.

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

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.” 

A picture of an empty classroom.
f_a_r_e_w_e_l_l / Flickr

In Raleigh, Senate lawmakers are proposing a controversial tradeoff.

They want to cut funding for teacher assistants to hire more teachers and reduce classroom sizes in the early grades. Republicans argue that smaller classes will lead to better student outcomes, even if it’s at the cost of fewer teacher assistants.

An image of a person typing on a computer
Public Domain

In an effort to bridge the digital divide, the Obama administration has selected Durham, as well as 26 other cities and a tribal nation, to help connect more public housing residents to high-speed internet.

Photo: The state Department of Public Instruction revealed a dramatic drops in student performance on standardized tests.
sandersonhs.org

State education leaders are slowly rolling out their ideas on how to reduce high-stakes testing in public schools.

The State Board of Education voted on Wednesday to conduct a study in the coming school year to examine whether their proposals are doable.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

Local school officials are struggling to make budget decisions without knowing how much money they will receive from the state.

House and Senate lawmakers passed a temporary spending plan earlier this month to keep the state running until August 14.

For school officials, that's a tight deadline.

Reema Khrais / WUNC

In North Carolina classrooms today, students are dealing with far fewer textbooks. Over the last seven years, state money for books has dropped drastically. Those changes come as more classrooms become more digital friendly – a transition that won’t be cheap, or easy.

Photo: An Interstate in North Carolina
Jimmy Emmerson / Flickr

North Carolina teenagers would no longer be required to take driver’s education under the Senate’s budget proposal.

That means they would no longer have to sit in class for 30 hours, or spend a few days behind the wheel with an instructor.

In its place, Republican senators want them to score at least 85 percent of the questions correctly on a written test (instead of the current 80 percent), and spend 85 hours driving with a parent or qualified adult (instead of 60) before getting a license.

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
Dave Crosby / Flickr Share-Alike

The North Carolina Senate gave preliminary approval on Wednesday afternoon to a two-year budget that would cut funding for thousands of public school teaching assistant positions, and would make significant policy changes to the state's tax code and Medicaid program.

The proposed $21.5 billion budget, which represents an almost 2 percent increase from the current year and was approved by Republicans along a party-line vote of 30-19, is scheduled for a final vote on Thursday.

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