Education

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

teacher
Jaine / Flickr Creative Commons

A tentative pay schedule from the Wake County school board bumps up Wake’s local contribution to teacher’s salaries. Teachers would see increases from $875 to $3,202, depending on experience and specialty.

The plan also gives a 3-percent raise to non-faculty employees, such as bus drivers and maintenance workers and increases additional pay for teachers with extra duties, such as coaching and advising.

Amy Thompson lives in teacher housing for Hertford County Schools.
Jess Clark

Amy Thompson lives in a seemingly typical two-bedroom apartment.

There's wall-to wall carpet, neutral walls, a comfy looking couch set, and a dining room table arranged with bright autumn leaves.

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

More teachers are leaving North Carolina to teach in other states, according to a report from the Department of Public Instruction.

It shows 1,082 of the state’s teachers left for classrooms in other parts of the country last year. That’s more than triple the number that left for other states in 2010.

Flickr via Cynthia Ahrens / Flickr

Lawmakers pushed a bill through the Senate that would divert more money from school districts to charter schools.

Under current law, school districts have pots of funding they don’t have to share with charter schools. These pots include supplemental property tax revenues, as well as federal funding for providing school lunches and transportation, which most charters don’t provide.

An image of UNC's Old Well
yeungb / Wikipedia Creative Commons

It may seem like the school year just started, but pretty soon high school seniors and other aspiring college students will start submitting applications for next year’s college enrollment.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

This summer, North Carolina lawmakers unveiled controversial education proposals - like ending funding for driver's education, and slashing money for teacher assistant positions to pay for more teachers. After months of press conferences, closed-door negotiations and loud floor debates, lawmakers released details of their budget deal this week. Below are some of the K-12 education highlights: 

As a new teacher for Wake County Schools, Vasti Rodriguez earns one of the highest local salary supplements in the state.
Jess Clark

Schools faced teacher shortages as students returned to the classroom last month. School districts across the state have different challenges when it comes to finding teachers, depending on where they’re located.

Rural districts, most of which offer lower salaries than urban districts, can find it especially tough to recruit new teachers, but they’re coming up with some creative solutions.

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.

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

June Atkinson has served as the state superintendent for almost a decade.

During her tenure there have been a number of significant changes to the state’s public education system, including the adoption of common core standards, the proliferation of charter schools, and continued debates about where education fits in the state budget.

Two white gold rings. (flickr.com/photos/72236935@N00)
Jeff Belmonte / Flickr

The leaders of the country's largest Protestant denomination have a message for millennials: get married already!

Over the past year, Southern Baptist leaders have encouraged churchgoers to get married young. The push comes in an effort to ensure more couples will be virgins on their wedding day. But does marrying young lead to happier marriages?

A class at the Francine Delany New School.
http://fdnsc.net/

Charter schools are taking off in North Carolina. Approximately 50 new charter schools have been founded since 2011 when the legislature lifted the 100-school cap on the number of charter schools. Now, the State Board of Education is considering applications for 17 more. 

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

House representatives in the state's General Assembly presented a bipartisan proposal on Thursday to create a scholarship program to help create highly-effective teachers.

The program, which received its first approval by a House Education Committee, would provide scholarship loans for individuals to attend “highly-effective” education schools. According to the bill, recipients would receive up to $8,500 per year.

“We need to attract and retain high-quality teachers and put them in the places where they’re needed the most,” said Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union).

Students participate in the 2014 NC Science Festival.
NC Science Festival

What do hip-hop and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have in common?

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt

Lawmakers in the state House have until the end of the day to file any bills they have not yet submitted. 

Hundreds of proposals are already up for debate this session. One plan would require university professors to teach four courses per semester to keep their salaries. 

Katherine Stewart's book investigates a Bible study club with chapters in thousands of U.S. schools.
PublicAffairs

In 2009, journalist Katherine Stewart heard that something called The Good News Club was coming to her daughter’s public elementary school in Santa Barbara, California.

At first she thought its mission seemed benign, but once she began to look into the organization and how it operated, she felt compelled to dig in further.

In addition to taking on education initiatives, PAGE encourages girls to produce photography and digital stories.
Madison County Photo Exhibition / carolinapage.org

Rural communities in western North Carolina are in the midst of an economic shift.

The rise and fall of the family farm means places like Madison County are looking for new ways to support themselves. The answer could be in the tech industry. But technology businesses rely on a steady stream of well-educated workers. 

A panel discussion tonight at Duke University, "Rethinking Appalachia," examines ways to develop a high-tech workforce in rural Appalachia.

Vivian Connell

When Vivian Connell was in college, she was already a teachers' advocate. She was on CNN in the network's early years to talk about a teacher's wrongful termination at the University of Georgia. But she wanted more people to hear her voice.

When Vivian became a teacher, she amplified it through her students. They advocated for land conservancies and against genocide in Africa. But she still wanted to be louder.

Duke professor William "Sandy" Darity studies the economics of social inequality.
@SandyDarity / Twitter

The term “social inequality” points to disparities in economics. 

But in reality, social inequality means inequities in many spheres: health, law, education and culture. Dissecting Inequality: Disparity and Difference in the 21st Century, a conference at Duke this week, explores the reasons for social inequality and the scientific approaches to addressing it.

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