Teacher, school, hallway
Jess Clark / WUNC

Reductions in state funding have forced school districts across the state to cut millions from their budgets. Durham Public Schools is planning to cut more than 90 positions at the end of the month. But parents, employees and activists are questioning the district’s decision to cut employees closer to the classroom, while leaving in place administrative positions.

Pat McCrory
James Willamor / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory proposed a 5 percent average pay increase for North Carolina teachers and a
 a 3.5 percent average bonus.

Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg)
NC General Assembly

 Lawmakers are drafting a bill that would allow charter schools to take over five of the state’s lowest-performing elementary schools. The bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg) wants lawmakers to approve the takeover legislation in the short session. But Bryan is championing the proposal, despite research showing a similar charter takeover in Tennessee had minimal impact on student performance.

Thomasville sophomore Denise Dominguez takes AP music theory, one of the hardest AP classes.
Jess Clark

Advanced Placement classes, or AP classes, are the gold standard for high school coursework. Students who take them can get college credit, and nice boost to their college applications. But not every student has equal access to AP classes, especially in rural districts. We take a loot at how Thomasville City Schools, a small district in Davidson County, is ramping up its AP program, and trying to expose a wider variety of students to college-level work.

students with laptops in classroom
Enokson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Wake County Public Schools plans to ask permission to run two elementary schools like charter schools.

Riverside High School students called for the release of Wildin Acosta outside Congressman G.K. Butterfield's Durham office.
Jess Clark

UPDATED March 20, 2016 On Sunday morning, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Sarah Salaña issued an order preventing the deportation of Riverside High School student Wildin Acosta before his case has been heard by an immigration judge. Congressman G.K. Butterfield says he worked through Saturday night with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) to convince Saldaña to use her executive authority. This is apparently an about-face from Salaña's decision on Friday night not to intervene.

Student, Classroom, school, class
Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 5,600 new students have applied to receive Opportunity Scholarships, or school vouchers, for next school-year. That's up from about 3,400 the same time last year.

Hassina Kiboua works with refugees in Ireland. She observed an art class at the Newcomers School.
Jess Clark

Visitors from seven European countries were in Greensboro Monday to learn how the Doris Henderson Newcomers School educates newly arrived immigrant students.

This DPI map shows the highest and lowest 3-year dropout rates by district.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

A Department of Public Instruction (DPI) report shows after seven years of progress in reducing high school dropouts, last school-year the state's dropout rate ticked up to about 2.4 percent. That's a slight rise from about 2.3 percent for the previous year.

As part of the 2013-14 state budget, the State Board of Education is required to study virtual charter schools and propose draft rules.
Ian Usher via Flickr

North Carolina’s first virtual charter schools are challenging a report that more than a quarter of their students have withdrawn.

Teacher, school, hallway
Jess Clark / WUNC

State lawmakers are looking into ways to train better school principals and keep them in schools that need them.

UNC-Chapel Hill senior Jailen Wallis (center) loves the idea of teaching, but the pay and the working conditions loomed too large as drawbacks to the profession.
Courtesy of Jailen Wallis

 UNC-Chapel Hill senior Jailen Wallis has always been tempted to become a high school English teacher.

The North Carolina Supreme Court will likely have an opinion on teacher tenure within six months.
Jess Clark

The North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in the state's fight to get rid of teacher tenure.

The State Board of Education wants to get rid of Standard VI, a piece of teacher evaluations some say is too punitive.

Standard VI requires teachers to meet expected student growth on state standardized tests. If they don’t, principals have to take action against them. That action can range from placement on an improvement plan to dismissal.

Image of June Atkinson, who has been the North Carolina state superintendent since 2005.
North Carolina Democratic Party

Senate Leader Phil Berger is criticizing the Department of Public Instruction for a budget it proposed in January. Documents show the department wanted to use about $2 million meant for a literacy program to fund positions the department axed to meet state-mandated budget cuts.

Wanda McLemore teaches a transitional fourth grade class at Falkener Elementary. The first half of her class is whole-group instruction.
Jess Clark

Forty percent of the state’s third-graders tested below grade level in reading last school year. Those are levels of achievement many parents and legislators say are unacceptable.

The state has been trying to boost reading scores for the last two years with a law called Read to Achieve. But is it getting schools what they need to improve scores?

Diversity Low Among N.C. Charter Schools

Feb 2, 2016
At one point, only six percent of students at Central Park School for Children in Durham, NC qualified for free and reduced meals. After enacting a weighted lottery that prioritizes low-income families, that number is up to 18 percent. The goal is 40.
Reema Khrais / WUNC

Since the late 1990s, the racial diversity of North Carolina’s 158 charter schools has decreased with more institutions becoming predominantly white or predominantly minority.

In January, a draft of a state report on charter schools showed they were whiter and richer compared to traditional public schools. Advocates for charter schools say they offer an option for low-income families in low-performing schools. Opponents say they are slipping back into segregated systems.

David Schott / Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow charter school organizations and charter management companies to take over the state's lowest performing schools.

The UNC-system saw its highest enrollment ever last fall, and data show minorities are driving the system's growth.

Teacher pay increases may be a possibility in the upcoming legislative session, according to Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), who chairs the House committee on education spending.

children reading
U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Guilford County Schools says it needs more resources and teacher training to boost reading scores.

DeShannon Korrea and Dwayne Taylor head home, lottery tickets in-hand, from the BP on Lakewood in Durham.
Jess Clark

At Saturday night's Powerball drawing, one very lucky ticketholder could win more than $900 million—the largest lottery jackpot in the nation's history. Ticket sales from Powerball and other lottery games offered in North Carolina are billed as a benefit for the state’s schools. Sales in 2015 were almost $2 billion, and about a quarter of that went to fund public education in the state. But what does that really mean for school funding?

teacher in a blur with classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

The State Board of Education has approved a policy that allows struggling charter schools to stay open if they are less than five years old.

As part of the 2013-14 state budget, the State Board of Education is required to study virtual charter schools and propose draft rules.
Ian Usher via Flickr

  UPDATED Jan. 11, 2016

Twenty percent of students who enrolled in the state's first virtual charter schools left before the end of the semester, according to a report from the state department of public instruction.

State Board of Education member Olivia Oxendine says she wants to find out why so many students are pulling out.

Lt. Governor Dan Forest has asked the State Board of Education to delay the approval of an annual report on charter schools because he says he thinks the report is too negative.

The state board planned to approve the report this week in order to send it to the General Assembly before a January deadline.