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.

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:

NC House

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. 

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. 

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

 A Wake County superior court judge ruled Friday that a state law ending teacher tenure is unconstitutional, arguing the state cannot take away the due process rights of teachers.  

Judge Robert Hobgood ordered a permanent injunction against the law, which would eliminate career status – commonly known as teacher tenure – by 2018. His ruling also said that the law violated the constitutional protection of contracts, and the prohibition against taking a person’s property.

teacher at blackboard
Wikimedia commons

Governor Pat McCrory released his $21 billion budget on Wednesday, setting aside $262.9 million for teacher raises and state employees. 

The governor and lawmakers have made it clear that teacher pay will be a major priority for this year’s short session, which is a time meant for lawmakers to adjust the budget approved last year. 

Teachers held their own “day of action” on Wednesday, the first day of the session. They outlined their demands and concerns in a morning press conference held by the North Carolina Association of Educators.

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

 Attorneys for some low-income school districts say the state is failing on its commitment to provide all students with a sound, basic education.

The lawyers are asking for a hearing in August and a written plan from the state as to how it intends to meet the basic education mandate outlined in the decades-old landmark lawsuit, known as the Leandro case.

Fourth-grade teacher Rosalyn Bailey explains a math assignment about fractions that involves higher-level thinking under the new Common Core standards.
Reema Khrais

State lawmakers say they’re hoping to throw away the Common Core standards and replace them with North Carolina’s own education standards.

In a legislative study committee on Thursday, lawmakers proposed a bill that would create a review commission to rewrite the academics standards by December 2015. 

The Common Core standards, initially adopted by 45 states, set high, rigorous goals for what students across the country should be able to do. Supporters of the national standards say they raise the bar in terms of what students should know – that they’re more rigorous.

Students at McDougle Elementary.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

A Superior Court judge on Wednesday halted a mandate that  requires North Carolina school districts to reward their top teachers with multi-year contracts in exchange for giving up tenure.

Guilford County and Durham Public School leaders filed a lawsuit against the new mandate earlier this year, calling it unconstitutional.  The judge issued a  preliminary injunction, which means the two school systems do not have to follow the mandate while the case is being decided.

Married couple Tracy and Britt Morton, both teachers at Apex High School, explain why they are leaving their current teaching positions. They spoke at a Wake County Schools news conference Thursday.
Reema Khrais

 An alarming number of Wake County teachers have resigned midway through this school year,  according to school officials. More than 600 teachers have left their jobs since July 2013, an increase of 41 percent from last year. Many critics say the current legislative policies and flat pay scale are discouraging teachers from staying the classroom. Listen to the full report below: 


Jerry Tillman
Dave DeWitt

Next month, a million or so North Carolina public-school students between third and twelfth grade will start taking tests. Lots of them. Reading and math tests for the younger kids; biology, Algebra, and English for the older kids.

Their scores will be tabulated and run through some servers at SAS Institute, a private company in Cary. There, software called EVAAS will compare the test score the student earned to one a statistical model predicted the student should get.

NC Teacher Evaluation
Dave DeWitt

Remember fifth grade? Well, whatever comes to your mind is not anything close to what it’s like now, at least in Nick Taylor’s fifth grade class at Lake Myra Elementary School in eastern Wake County.

Tucker barks out instructions to his students, directing them to grab laptops and Ipads and get with their small groups to begin comparing and contrasting two different versions of The Three Little Pigs.

Quickly and efficiently, the students mobilize.

Karin Vlietstra via Flickr

At least 28 school districts across the state have voiced opposition to a new law that repeals teacher tenure and replaces it with a plan that rewards the top teachers, according the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Cumberland County Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools are among the latest to reject the law, which is meant to phase out tenure for all teachers by 2018.

Broughton High School teacher Lee Quinn speaks out against the 25 percent mandate.
Dave DeWitt

Durham school board members voted unanimously yesterday to join a lawsuit that challenges the elimination of teacher tenure and replaces it with a selective performance pay system. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory says his staff will consider making changes to a new law that offers raises to top teachers who give up tenure rights.

Under the law, teacher tenure will be phased out by 2018 and replaced with a plan that requires local school districts to pick the top 25-percent of teachers who will be offered four-year contracts and bonuses.

“I think it’s an example of passing a policy without clearly understanding the execution,” McCrory said.

Teachers protest
Dave DeWitt

A task force created by the legislature last year met earlier this week to discuss incentives for good teaching. Some Republican leaders favor a merit pay system that would reward a limited number of teachers based on their individual performances. But many educators believe this would discourage collaboration within their schools. 

Teachers protesting
Dave DeWitt

State lawmakers and education leaders are considering paying North Carolina teachers based on their individual performance, despite  concerns from stakeholders who argue it could harmfully affect students and teacher morale.

Republican Senator Jerry Tillman, an education budget writer, is helping lead a newly-formed legislative task force that will develop recommendations for alternative pay plans. Members, whom include legislators and education leaders across the state, must factor in teacher evaluation measures and student performance outcomes.  

A common sight in almost every school -- students taking a test
Photo by biologycorner. - http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/future-of-testing-and-data-driven-learning/#sthash.ANdJLjay.dpuf / MacArthur Foundation

North Carolina lawmakers continue to scrutinize the implementation of Common Core Standards, as they collect suggestions from leaders and educators to improve, amend or even replace them.

The state adopted the standards in 2010, though they were first implemented last school year. They are supposed to set a clear, consistent blueprint for what students across should learn from kindergarten through high school.

Implemented in 45 states, Common Core creates goals and rigorous tests that are intended to look the same across the country.  

North Carolina Association of Educators

Some teachers and advocates with the N.C. Association of Educators are asking the Durham Board of Education to follow Guilford County's lead and decline to comply with a new state education law.

The General Assembly passed a budget that eliminates tenure in 2018. Meanwhile, school districts will offer the top 25 percent of teachers four-year contracts and $500 raises to relinquish their status.

Hillside High School teacher Nicholas Graber-Grace said the model is stacked against teachers with disadvantaged students, and it discourages collaboration among colleagues.

Teacher salaries are losing ground fast in North Carolina.

Jennifer Spivey has been a teacher for three years at South Columbus High School, on the north side of the border between the Carolinas. She's been recognized as an outstanding teacher; she has a master's degree, and last summer she won a prestigious Kenan fellowship to improve education. But she still lives in her parents' basement.

Gov. Pat McCrory stands at a podium and speaks to the Emerging Issues Forum on Monday.
Dave DeWitt

After ongoing controversy about educator pay, Governor Pat McCrory announced a plan to increase salaries for new teachers yesterday. Under this plan, the base pay for the state’s beginning teachers will increase to $35,000 over the next two years, bringing North Carolina starting teacher pay in line with that of border states like Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

NCAE, along with six plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the repeal of career status which has been around since 1971.
SalFalko via Flickr

The N.C. Association of Educators filed a second major education lawsuit in a week, this time challenging the end of tenureotherwise known as career statusfor North Carolina public school teachers.

The lawsuit, also filed by six classroom teachers, argues that the repeal of career status violates federal and state constitutions by taking away basic due process rights.

little girl with surprised expression on her face
Miracle on 34th Street movie

Update 12/17/13, 10:00 a.m.:

In recent days we've asked teachers to tell us about unusual gifts they've received from students. The stories keep coming in.

Sue Edelberg is an ESL teacher at Clayton Middle School. She writes:

I'm a first year teacher so I've yet to receive a strange gift, but last week I received a very unique and creative gift: it was a little box made out of notebook paper, from a 6th grader who loves origami and magic tricks.  It had an X on it, so he said it was supposed to be  an X Box.

Ethan Tillman student and teacher
Dave DeWitt

Why do teachers stay and why do they go? Dave DeWitt has been reporting on this subject around the state in recent weeks. He's been meeting teachers and students and today he'll preview his series with Frank.

Plus the latest in the court battle over the state’s controversial new voting laws.

And, "rockin' country" with Raleigh's Erin Nenni Band.