American Graduate

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. 

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

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.

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