American Graduate

PACE ACADEMY
Reema Khrais

State officials have agreed to grant a three-year renewal to PACE Academy’s charter, months after the State Board of Education voted to terminate the Carrboro school’s charter.

WUNC reported on the status of the school earlier this year  in January and February

Teen Reporters: 8 Essential Summer Jams

Jun 26, 2014
earbuds and a heart
Olivia Alcock / Flickr/Creative Commons

WUNC is working with several teen reporters this summer. The young people are learning Journalism 101 from seasoned NPR and WUNC reporters.

On their first day on the job, we asked each reporter to recommend a song. The idea is to pull together a fun 2014 summer playlist for you.

Here are the recommendations.

Jamayah Parrish: "Pumped up Kicks" by Foster the People:

Governor Pat McCrory gathered with school leaders and legislators on Wednesday to show their support for a scaled-down spending plan that focuses on teacher pay.
Reema Khrais

State House Republicans are teaming up with Governor Pat McCrory to help speed up slow budget talks. Legislators are supposed to make adjustments to the two-year state budget by July 1, but progress has been sluggish.

Representatives say they want to at least pass a scaled-down spending plan that focuses on teacher pay. It would give teachers an average five-percent raise without relying on funds from the lottery. 

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Senate and House leaders are expected to begin meeting in conference committees this week to make adjustments to the two-year budget plan. 

They have until June 30th to resolve differences and send their spending plan to Governor Pat McCrory.

Medicaid funding and teacher pay raises are expected to be the key sticking points in negotiations. But many Republicans, like Representative Craig Horn (R-Union), say they’re optimistic about the process.

(l-r) Emmanuel Johnson, Thar Thwai, Chelsea Korynta, Jamayah Parrish, Morgan Manson, Lilli Morales
Carol Jackson

Where do you find those stories? That is one of the most-asked question of a radio reporter. Six young people will find out the answer this summer in WUNC's 3rd annual Summer Youth Radio Institute. The Institute kicked off Monday June 23 with an ambitious goal: teach the teens to find stories in their communities and give them the tools to tell those stories on the radio.

More than 50 young people applied to be a part of the experience. The rookie reporters hired for the six positions come from Orange, Durham and Chatham counties.

Teachers and supporters carried heavy cardboard boxes of petition signatures calling lawmakers to raise the teacher pay to the national average.
Reema Khrais

 A group of teachers and supporters dropped off a 61,000-signature petition to lawmakers on Thursday, demanding pay raises that do not result in destructive cuts to public education.

They carried the 14 heavy and large cardboard boxes to the offices of Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis, who are currently leading the efforts to raise teacher pay. 

Glenwood Elementary students
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

  State lawmakers say they want to create an education endowment fund to help pay high-performing teachers more money.

A proposed bill passed by a Senate Education Committee on Wednesday suggests collecting money for the fund through individual and business donations, tax refunds and special license plates.

Originally introduced by Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest, the proposal presents a framework for an endowment and does not lay out the criteria for how the money is used.

Parents, advocates and families gathered outside the legislative building on Tuesday to show their support for the state's private school voucher program.
Reema Khrais

  North Carolina legislative leaders, parents and advocates are looking to expand the state’s private school voucher program.

They say they want to lift the cap so that all low-income families that applied and qualified for the program can receive help.

The program gives families up to $4,200 in tuition money at private and religious schools. More than 5,000 families – most of them minorities - applied for the coming fall, but less than half will be randomly picked, according to leaders of Parents for Educational Freedom North Carolina.

DJ A-Khan and DJ Bounce kicking it in the studio.
Ryan Levin / Beat Making Lab

This week WUNC is partnering with The Beat Making Lab in Chapel Hill on a free summer camp for high schoolers where students take existing WUNC news stories, remix them, and set them to a hip-hop beat.  Called Re-Mixing The News, the camp runs through June 20.

Protesters gathered outside the Senate chamber to demonstrate against policies they say are regressive.

Nineteen Moral Monday protesters were arrested yesterday after demonstrating in the legislative building against budget proposals and policies passed by Republican-led General Assembly.

Dozens of protesters stomped, danced, and chanted at the very tops of their lungs, days after a superior court judge struck down new rules that prohibit loud activities and noises that would cause disturbances. The Wake County judge on Friday argued that the rules were unconstitutional, overly broad and vague.

A group of retired generals is advising lawmakers not to support legislation that would get rid of the Common Core academic standards.

The group Mission Readiness: Military Leaders for Kids says the standards will help ensure the success and strength of the military by better preparing students who choose to serve. Military officers say about 23 percent of graduates looking to enroll don’t pass entrance exams in math, literacy and problem solving.

For the past several months, WUNC has been working on a new multimedia project on the state of teaching. A sort of "End-Of-The-School Year" report on education in the state. That report, "Outspoken: The State of Teaching in North Carolina" is out today. 

In it, teachers tell stories that show the complexity of their jobs. Like Chris Reagan, who has had to prepare middle schoolers for both standardized tests... and how to go on a date:

Sim Bowden has worked this corner in Chapel Hill since 1999.
Carol Jackson

Every weekday, Sim Bowden manages the pedestrians at the intersection outside of Estes Hills Elementary in Chapel Hill. He's there for an hour and fifteen minutes each morning and afternoon, shepherding kids and adults safely across the busy street. Watching him is mesmerizing. His hand is usually in the air -- he waves to everyone, cars, trucks, school buses. And everyone seems to know Sim.

"Hello, cutie," shouts a mom in a silver SUV.

Today is the last day of school in Chapel Hill, and it also marks the end of Sim's fifteenth year working this corner.

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

A Senate Education Committee has approved a bill that makes certain that charter schools are subject to the same public records and open meetings laws as traditional public schools.

The bill comes at a time when charter schools are thriving in North Carolina - 26 new schools are set to open in the fall.

Charter schools are run by private nonprofit boards, but get public money from the state. For that reason, lawmakers say charter schools should be bound by the same state public record laws as traditional schools.

NC House
house.gov

State House Republicans released a proposed budget on Tuesday that is significantly different than the Senate's spending plan in terms of education. House leaders say they want to give all public school teachers raises without making them give up their job protections.

They're also looking to pull from lottery money to pay for those raises, instead of making cuts to public education. 

Senate Leader Phil Berger takes an impromptu meeting with Moral Monday protesters.
Reema Khrais

Monday night, 15 Moral Monday protesters sat in front of Senate Leader Phil Berger’s door.  Berger wasn't in his office, so the protesters sat there until the Senate session ended. Soon, State Capitol Police began to usher everyone out. They said that the building was closing, everyone had to leave. Reporter Dave DeWitt was with the protesters. He wrote about what happened next this way:

Students at McDougle Elementary.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

  The House passed a bill on Wednesday that moves the state closer to getting rid of the Common Core standards.

The bill would form a commission to rewrite the standards over the next year, according to legislators, though they could not offer a clear timetable of when they would be implemented in classrooms. They say students would still learn under Common Core until new standards are in place. 

photo of the North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / Flickr

Senate leaders have released their proposed budget for the next fiscal year. They’re looking to spend about 21 billion dollars. Their plan would make substantial changes to the Medicaid program - and would scale back several state agencies, including the Department of Justice. Senate leaders also proposed hefty pay raises for public school teachers. 

For months now, Senate leaders have made it very clear that they want to give teachers pay raises. But they’ve been pretty coy about the details until this week.

Senate Republicans released a plan on Wednesday to provide what they call the "largest teacher pay raise in state history." The plan calls for an average 11 percent raise for teachers as long as they give up career status, otherwise known as tenure. Teachers who choose to not give up their job protections would stay on the current pay plan and not receive any increases. 

School bus
Dave DeWitt

 State lawmakers are considering a bill that would reduce funds for school buses over the next five years. 

The House bill would limit the number of spare buses and their replacement parts, while revising the state inspection process for school bus maintenance.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Julia Howard (R-Davie, Forsyth), says the legislation would make school bus operations more efficient, while saving about $19 million in recurring funds over the years.

Students in a Guilford County school classroom on computers.
Guilford County Schools

State officials are warning school districts about technical problems they may face with upcoming online exams. Hundreds of thousands of students may have to go back to paper and pencil for their final exams this month. 

State education officials say they can't guarantee their computer system will be able to handle the Career and Technical Education exams. The issue would affect about 350,000 students. 

15-year-old Adam Geringer poses next to a bill he wrote to change North Carolina's grading scale to a 10-point scale so an A is a 90 - 100, instead of a 93-100.
Adam Geringer

 In North Carolina, all public schools are required to grade students on a seven-point scale. That means you get an A if you score between a 93 and 100, and a B if it falls between an 85 and 92.

But one high school student is trying to change that - he says the current scale is unfair and is asking state leaders to consider adopting a 10-point scale instead so that a 90 to a 100 is an A. 

Members of the Broughton High School debate team begin their practice as soon as most students clear out the Raleigh school. 

Northern High School senior Mercy Mensah and athletic trainer Ken "Doc" Brown
Will Michaels / WUNC

WUNC is in the midst of a yearlong examination of what it's like to be an educator, called the North Carolina Teacher Project. This week, we're returning to the My Teacher series, exploring what it takes to make a connection in the classroom by asking students to interview their teachers.

'Through Your Class, I Found Something That I Actually Really Care About'

May 22, 2014
Carrboro High School junior Anna Knotek, history teacher Matthew Cone, and junior Maddie Macmillan
Will Michaels / WUNC

WUNC is in the midst of a yearlong examination of what it's like to be an educator, called the North Carolina Teacher Project. This week, we're returning to the My Teacher series, exploring what it takes to make a connection in the classroom by asking students to interview their teachers.

WUNC is in the midst of a yearlong examination of what it's like to be an educator, called the North Carolina Teacher Project. This week, we're returning to the My Teacher series, exploring what it takes to make a connection in the classroom by asking students to interview their teachers.

Junior Sarah Morrison says her veteran English teacher Nancy Duffner pushed her to be a better writer and dig deeper for her stories about current events. Mrs. Duffner has been around long enough to witness district consolidation and the changing demographics in northern Durham.

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