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Friday Report – May 5, 2017
This week in #nced: Cooper Nominates Three to State Board of Education; NC Retirement Benefits; Revised ELA Standards
by Forum Admin
The Friday Report
May 5, 2017
Join the Public School Forum on May 18 to Honor Former Senator Howard Lee
Join the Public School Forum to honor former North Carolina Senator Howard N. Lee as the recipient of the 2017 Public School Forum of North Carolina Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award. Lee will be honored at a gala event on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at the Raleigh Convention Center.
The Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award was established by the Public School Forum of North Carolina in 2000 to recognize exemplary leaders who have made outstanding contributions to public education in North Carolina. This year we have the privilege of honoring one of North Carolina’s finest leaders, Howard N. Lee.
Howard Lee has been a trailblazer his entire life. He may be best known as the first African-American to be elected mayor of a predominantly white southern town since reconstruction – Chapel Hill in 1969 – an office he would hold for three terms. He was also the first African-American to be named a cabinet secretary, serving as secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development under Gov. Jim Hunt, and the first to chair the State Board of Education.
In the North Carolina Senate, Lee built his reputation as a fighter for education reform, advocating for higher teacher salaries, increased funding for public and higher education and raising teacher and student standards. Howard Lee has dedicated his life to public service in support of children and education.
If you are interested in discussing a sponsorship, contact Keith Poston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-781-6833.
Complimentary Educator Tickets for Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award Gala
Each year the Public School Forum of North Carolina reserves complimentary tickets for our North Carolina educators to join us for our signature annual event, the Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award Gala. The event will be May 18, 2017 at the Raleigh Convention Center from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. The Forum is thrilled to honor former North Carolina Senator Howard N. Lee. The reception starts at 6:00 PM and the dinner and program is at 7:00 PM.
Complimentary tickets will be given on a first come, first served basis. Click here to put your name on the request list. We will notify those selected no later than May 12th.
New Episodes of Education Matters Return May 27
Our weekly TV show Education Matters is currently being pre-empted due to the NHL Playoffs on NBC.
The North Carolina Channel can be found on Time Warner Cable/Spectrum Channel 1276 or check local listing and other providers here.
The Senate’s proposed budget bill is expected sometime next week. Senators and their staffers had countless hours-long meetings every day this week to determine not only line item funding for education, but also the “special provisions” in the budget which are always loaded with substantive policy changes and new legal requirements. Some big and small ticket items to look for (not necessarily in order of importance) are as follows:
1. Raises in teachers’ salaries;
2. Raises in principals’ and assistant principals’ pay;
4. Funding the School Connectivity Initiative in the Digital Learning Plan;
5. Funding for instructional supplies and textbooks;
6. Funding for the NC Governor’s School, among many other important items.
On the subject of worthwhile investments, the State Board of Education (SBE) heard a detailed presentation this week on the $6 million return-on-investment per year from NCDPI’s District & School Transformation program (DST). NC High Schools participating in the DST program graduate 54 more students each year who otherwise would not graduate. The math breaks down at $111,203 in the dollar returns per student; thus, $111,203 x 54 students = $6 million saved per year. The dollar figure of returns is arrived at through the following measures:
1. Increased revenue to the state
a. Increased income tax revenue
b. Increased sales tax revenue
2. Avoided costs
a. Decreased incarceration rates
b. Decreased court costs
c. Decreased cost in unemployment compensation
d. Decreased health care costs.
SBE members recommended presentations of the data to General Assembly members to help drive additional investments in this high-yield DST program. It could be yet another big ticket item to look for in the Senate’s proposed budget bill next week. $6 million per year is a hard return-on-investment to beat.
Cooper Nominates Three to Serve on State Board of Education
State Board of Education. Photo Credit: WRAL.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday he has nominated three people to serve on the State Board of Education. Members must be confirmed by the General Assembly and serve for eight years each.
Nominee John Buxton (J.B.) of Raleigh previously worked as deputy state superintendent of North Carolina public schools. He also served as senior education adviser to former Gov. Mike Easley and was coordinator of special programs for the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, which offered scholarships to students studying to become teachers.
A former high school teacher, Buxton is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Princeton University. If selected for the state board, he would serve as an at-large representative.
Current board member Reginald Kenan was re-nominated to serve as the second education district representative. Kenan is a native of Duplin County, where he practices law and serves on the county school board. He is a graduate of Guilford College and Campbell University and is active in his church and community.
Sandra Byrd was nominated as the eighth education district representative. Byrd lives in Asheville and is a retired associate professor of education from UNC-Asheville, where she served as assistant provost. She previously taught high school and was a Buncombe County Teacher of the Year. She is a graduate of Salem College, Western Carolina University and the University of South Carolina.
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Limiting NC Retirement Benefits Will Hurt State Employees, Critics Say
Ending government pensions for future state employees and teachers would make it hard for the state to fill jobs, workers’ representatives warned state senators as they discussed a proposal to limit retiree benefits.
Some Senate Republicans say the costs of having retirees on the state health insurance plan and offering them a guaranteed monthly income in retirement is too big a financial burden for the state. Legislators want to offer 401(k) plans rather than pensions to future state employees, and stop giving them health coverage in retirement. The bill covers state employees, teachers, and some local government employees hired after June 30, 2018.
No current employees or retirees would lose benefits under Senate Bill 467. The bill’s sponsors explained the rationale for the bill Wednesday and invited questions and comments at a committee meeting, but the committee did not vote.
Taken together, the state pension and health plans have a $60 billion unfunded liability, said Sen. Andy Wells, a Hickory Republican.
The legislature’s nonpartisan staff did research into what millennials care about when they look for jobs and found no evidence of people 20 to 35 years old being motivated by traditional pensions or retiree medical coverage.
The state is paying for benefits that don’t help recruitment, Wells said. New employees won’t appreciate retiree benefits “until year 29,” he said.
State pensions for workers who retire after 30 years are 54 percent of their final salaries. The average pension benefit is less than $21,000 a year, according to the state treasurer’s office. Employees contribute 6 percent of their pay to the pension system. The state and other employers have contributed an average of 4.5 percent over the last 15 years, according to the treasurer’s office.
Defenders of the state pension warned against ending it, saying a move to 401(k) plans may not save money. A 2015 report from the National Institute on Retirement Security found that costs went up and workers found it hard to retire in three states that switched from pensions to 401(k) plans.
Shutting down the pension plan would cost $350 million in the first year, according to the treasurer’s office.
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NC Education Board Makes Staff Moves Against Backdrop of a Lawsuit
N.C. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. Photo Credit: Chris Seward, News & Observer.
A crack in the frosty relationship between state education leaders revealed itself Thursday when the State Board of Education made a job change the state superintendent wanted.
The board voted to allow state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson to select a chief of staff without board approval. The new chief of staff will report only to Johnson rather than to both him and the board. The board voted to add a new administrative position in the state Department of Public Instruction that will report to both the board and the superintendent.
“I want to thank the board for allowing me to hire my chief of staff,” Johnson said.
The board and Johnson have been tangling over who is in charge of the state education department. The board is suing the state over a new law that stripped it of some of its powers and gave them to the newly elected superintendent. Johnson joined the lawsuit on the state’s side. Johnson has been chafing under policies that require the state board to approve job candidates for top administrative jobs. Johnson said in a recent affidavit that the policies were preventing him from doing his job.
The court put the legislative changes on hold. A June 29 hearing is scheduled in the case.
Board Chairman Bill Cobey said after the meeting that the board is working with Johnson on issues important to him. “The characterization we aren’t working together is too extreme,” Cobey said.
Still, Johnson objected to the board hiring a new deputy superintendent, someone who will report to both him and the board. The board voted to make Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin, DPI’s chief academic and digital learning officer, the new deputy superintendent. Pitre-Martin replaces Rebecca Garland, who retired earlier this year.
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Two major changes have taken place since the NC Dept. of Public Instruction posted the second version of the Draft State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on Dec. 22, 2016.
First, on March 9, Congress approved a joint resolution repealing the US Department of Education’s (USED) regulations related to state plans and accountability systems under ESSA, and President Trump approved it on March 27. Second, on March 13, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sent a letter to the chief state school officers that included a link to a new template for the state plans.
NCDPI staff are pleased to inform you that the third draft of the State Plan for the ESSA is available for public review. This document serves as the rough draft of the state’s application for funds authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) as reauthorized under ESSA in accordance with the requirements of the new template.
Educators, parents, students and other stakeholders of North Carolina’s public schools are invited to provide feedback via the Let’s Talk link on the NCDPI website. Please select the Every Student Succeeds Act link near the bottom of the page to share your thoughts.
Teachers and students will use newly revised standards for English language arts (ELA) in North Carolina public school classrooms beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The State Board of Education approved the revised standards at its April meeting. The revisions were endorsed by the following state-level groups: NC Chamber, BEST NC, the NC Association of School Administrators, the NC School Boards Association, the NC Large District Consortium and HIRE Standards. Also endorsing the revisions was Mission: Readiness, an organization of more than 650 retired admirals and generals.
Key improvements to the standards include a new format, a strong emphasis on the writing process, language continuums and more attention to Reading Standard 10.
The revised standards were a compilation of work completed by a data review committee that reviewed information provided through ELA teacher focus groups, educator and community surveys and the work of the Academic Standards Review Commission. Writing teams of ELA teachers, district leaders and professors from North Carolina colleges and universities used the data review committee’s recommendations to create three different drafts, each responsive to follow-up feedback. This work has taken approximately a full year to complete.
During the next six months, the English language arts staff will develop an implementation kit to be available in January 2018 to assist ELA teachers. Training will be held this fall to introduce the new standards and their format.
Wake County Residents Would See Tax Hike Under School Budget Plan
The average homeowner in Wake County would pay at least an extra $80 a year in property taxes to help hire more guidance counselors, give raises to school bus drivers and fund other programs this year, under a plan approved by Wake school leaders.
The school board agreed Tuesday to ask the Wake County Board of Commissioners for a record $45.2 million increase in local education dollars for the 2017-18 school year. School leaders say this 11 percent increase in county funding is needed to help make Wake a better school district.
“This budget is an effort to continue to move us forward aggressively to provide the services necessary to deal with the children, particularly with children who are not yet succeeding at school, but also to stretch those who are to higher heights,” said school board member Bill Fletcher.
It would require more than a 3 cent property tax increase for the county to come up with the additional $45.2 million requested. Wake County commissioners, who have increased school funding by 20 percent over the past two years, have already been raising concerns about the size of this year’s school budget proposal.
Sig Hutchinson, chairman of the board of commissioners, praised the school system. But he said commissioners will have to weigh the school system’s request with the other county needs this year. “We’ve seen the superintendent’s budget,” Hutchinson said in an interview Tuesday. “We’ll listen to what the community wants us to do.”
But school board members said Tuesday that the budget meets valuable needs, such as providing more guidance counselors and social workers who can provide help for students, whether it’s mental health issues or advice on college. “This budget attempts to begin to address that component of what do we need to do to get to that solid, strong school system,” said school board member Jim Martin. “And I think social workers and counselors is one of them.”
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A parent drops her child off at Jones Elementary. Photo Credit: Citizen-Times File Photo
Asheville City school board members Monday approved a recommendation from the superintendent to shorten the school day at the district’s elementary schools starting next school year.
The school day will end at 2:30 p.m. rather than 2:55 p.m. The start time will remain at 8 a.m. The schedule will not change at the middle or high schools.
Interim Superintendent Bobbie Short said the change was needed because the school buses don’t have enough time to complete their elementary routes and get back to the middle and high schools to pick up students. “We have shared the recommended changes with teachers and staff at our elementary schools. The response to the recommendation has been extremely positive,” Short told board members at their Monday meeting.
The district had lengthened the school day at the elementary schools just a few years ago. “The issue at hand was to increase the instructional day and not include recess, playtime as a part of the instructional day,” Short said. But the longer elementary day created the delays with routes. Students ended up waiting between 20 and 50 minutes for buses to complete the elementary routes, Short said Monday.
She said the district can include recess as part of the instructional day and will meet the state requirements for instructional time with the shorter day.
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Study Finds Nation’s Only Federally Funded Voucher Program Has Negative Effect on Student Achievement
This 2004 file photo shows Washington parents interested in school vouchers attending an orientation
meeting to fill out applications. Photo Credit: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post.
Students in the nation’s only federally funded school voucher initiative performed worse on standardized tests within a year after entering D.C. private schools than peers who did not participate, according to a new federal analysis that comes as President Trump is seeking to pour billions of dollars into expanding the private school scholarships nationwide.
The study, released last Thursday by the Education Department’s research division, follows several other recent studies of state-funded vouchers in Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio that suggested negative effects on student achievement. Critics are seizing on this data as they try to counter Trump’s push to direct public dollars to private schools.
Vouchers, deeply controversial among supporters of public education, are direct government subsidies parents can use as scholarships for private schools. These payments can cover all or part of the annual tuition bills, depending on the school.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has long argued that vouchers help poor children escape from failing public schools. But Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate Education Committee, said that DeVos should heed the department’s Institute of Education Sciences. Given the new findings, Murray said, “it’s time for her to finally abandon her reckless plans to privatize public schools across the country.”
DeVos defended the D.C. program, saying it is part of an expansive school-choice market in the nation’s capital that includes a robust public charter school sector.
“When school choice policies are fully implemented, there should not be differences in achievement among the various types of schools,” she said in a statement. She added that the study found that parents “overwhelmingly support” the voucher program “and that, at the same time, these schools need to improve upon how they serve some of D.C.’s most vulnerable students.”
The D.C. program serves about 1,100 students, giving them up to $8,452 to attend a private elementary or middle school and up to $12,679 for high school. Participating private schools must be accredited by 2021 but otherwise face few requirements beyond showing that they are in good financial standing and demonstrating compliance with health and safety laws.
D.C. students who used vouchers had significantly lower math scores a year after joining the program, on average, than students who applied for a voucher through a citywide lottery but did not receive one. For voucher students in kindergarten through fifth grade, reading scores were also significantly lower. For older voucher students, there was no significant difference in reading scores.
For voucher recipients coming from a low-performing public school — the population that the voucher program primarily aims to reach — attending a private school had no effect on achievement. But for voucher recipients coming from higher-performing public schools, the negative effect was particularly large.
The analysis reviewed data for more than 1,700 students who participated in the lotteries from 2012 to 2014.
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Federal Budget Deal for 2017 Includes Increases for Title I, Special Education
Federal lawmakers have agreed to relatively small spending increases for Title I programs to districts and for special education, as part of a budget deal covering the rest of fiscal 2017 through the end of September.
Title I spending on disadvantaged students would rise by $100 million up to $15.5 billion from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2017, along with $450 million in new money that was already slated to be shifted over from the now-defunct School Improvement Grants program.
And state grants for special education would increase by $90 million up to $12 billion. However, Title II grants for teacher development would be cut by $294 million, down to about $2.1 billion for the rest of fiscal 2017.
The bill would also provide $400 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, also known as Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Title IV is a block grant that districts can use for a wide range of programs, including health, safety, arts education, college readiness, and more.
Total U.S. Department of Education spending, including both discretionary and mandatory spending covering K-12 and other issues, would fall by $60 million from fiscal 2016, down to $71.6 billion.
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Trump Takes Aim at School Lunch Guidelines and a Girls’ Education Program
Michelle Obama joined students for lunch at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., in 2012.
Photo Credit: Alex Wong, Getty Images.
The Trump administration took aim Monday at two signature programs of the former first lady Michelle Obama, rolling back her efforts to promote healthy school lunches nationwide and potentially rebranding her program to educate adolescent girls abroad.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that school meals would no longer have to meet some requirements connected with Mrs. Obama’s initiative to combat childhood obesity by overhauling the nation’s school menus.
The nutrition regulations were part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and were advocated by Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. For the last five years, schools have been required to reduce the amount of calories, fat and sodium in their cafeterias and increase offerings of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nonfat milk to the roughly 32 million students who receive federally subsidized meals.
Beginning next school year, schools can request an exemption from the whole grain requirements and delay the sodium mandate. They will also be able to serve 1 percent flavored milk instead of nonfat.
Mr. Perdue said the Obama-era rules had resulted in increased costs for school districts and declining participation in the federal school lunch program. He said relaxing the rules was part of the administration’s effort to “make school meals great again.”
“If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition — thus undermining the intent of the program,” said Mr. Perdue, who announced the changes with a signed proclamation on Monday after having lunch with students at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va. Mr. Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, was just confirmed last week.
Nutrition advocates said the move by the Trump administration was shortsighted.
“Just because children would rather eat heavily salted, processed foods at school doesn’t mean they should,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. “The president’s fondness for Big Macs and KFC is well known, but we shouldn’t let Colonel Sanders and McDonald’s run the school cafeteria.”
Since schools began complying with the nutrition standards in 2012, many have complained that they are too stringent and costly. The new rules were projected to cost $3.2 billion over five years, but Mr. Perdue said they had cost states an additional $1.22 billion in the 2015 fiscal year alone.
Congress has allowed states to apply for waivers if they cannot meet certain standards.
Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association, said in a statement that schools were moving forward to meet the requirements. The organization denounced the Agriculture Department’s relaxation of the rules, noting that more sodium and sugar would increase students’ blood pressure and put them at greater risk of heart disease and strokes.
Ms. Brown said her organization was “very disappointed that the U.S.D.A. has decided to put special interests back on the school menu,” and added, “We strongly urge the agency and Congress not to give politics priority over the health of our children.”
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Applications Open for 2017-18 NC Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP)
The Public School Forum is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 cohort of the North Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).
The Public School Forum has led the North Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program since 1992, and it has continued to be the only statewide program of its kind that focuses on leadership and professional development in the context of education policy. Each new class continues the trend of high caliber participants and is rich in its members’ range of experiences, both professionally and personally. Fellows come from public schools, higher education, community colleges, state agencies, and a diverse array of education organizations across North Carolina. Each class includes a cohort of Fellows who focus on education policy issues and the wide range of factors that influence education in North Carolina. The program is designed for Fellows to learn about issues and perspectives in education that they don’t always encounter in their daily work so that they can be more informed, rounded contributors to the critical education debates that shape the quality and focus of schools. Fellows increase their awareness of how public policy is made, learn whom the key players are in the formation of this policy, and become more confident and involved in the policy-making process. Leadership development is a key focus of the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
North Carolina PTA Executive Director Announcement
The North Carolina PTA (NCPTA) is the state’s oldest and largest volunteer organization advocating for the education, health, safety and success of all children and youth while building strong families and communities. PTAs across North Carolina impact more than 685,000 children and their families. Learn more about the NCPTA at https://ncpta.org/.
NCPTA is poised for greatness, with a seasoned staff, diverse board, 10 local councils, 136,000 members across the state and a dynamic national organization. PTA has been advocating for all children for over 120 years.
NCPTA is looking for a creative and resourceful leader who can balance multiple priorities. The ideal candidate will have successful experience in:
• Serving as an executive director of a membership organization
• Supporting a non-profit board of directors and providing appropriate board development
• Overseeing multiple programs and events
• Supervising staff and consultants
• Conducting staffing assessments and restructuring organizations
• Managing change
• Fundraising, including managing a membership program
• Recruiting and motivating volunteers
Application Details: To be considered, please submit a resume, cover letter and salary requirements to email@example.com by Wednesday, May 10th. If you have questions about the opportunity, please contact Kelly Langston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCCAT Fall Registration Open
North Carolina educators have plenty of opportunities throughout the fall to attend the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a recognized national leader in professional development programming for teachers. Applicants are encouraged to register as soon as possible to ensure a spot. Programs are available to North Carolina educators at the Cullowhee and Ocracoke campuses, online and with NCCAT faculty visiting school districts. NCCAT provides food, lodging and programming. Teachers and or their districts are responsible for travel to and from the center and the cost of the substitute teacher. For more information visit www.nccat.org.
Some upcoming programs include:
14458 • ACHIEVING AGAINST THE ODDS: FOCUS ON READING
September 18–21: Cullowhee
Today’s diverse students enter school eager to become successful in classrooms originally designed for culturally homogeneous populations and are expected to learn from teachers who are often not from the same cultural, ethnic/race or social-class. Unsurprisingly, student performance in reading and other subjects is often low while student dropout and teacher burnout rates are high. This program guides participants to explore and document their experiences in motivating at-risk students to become effective readers. In addition to sharing successful strategies for improving reading skills and producing a written narrative, participants will use several technology applications to capture their stories about students who have achieved against the odds and become motivated and skilled readers who excel academically.
14467 • MAKING MATH MEANINGFUL: ENGAGING WITH MATH THROUGH MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES
October 9–12: Cullowhee
Designed for grades K–6 teachers.
Wondering how to engage your students as they explore and develop math understanding and mastery? You can make math meaningful for your students. Come and refresh your understanding of Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) as you engage in activities designed to help connect the ways your students are “smart” to the NC Math Standards. Explore and develop learning strategies to support math mastery as we look at planning for and assessing math standards for your grade level. With ideas for the self-smart and the people-smart, the naturalist, musical, verbal, kinesthetic and visual learners, you’ll leave ready to start your year the MI way! This program is presented by A+ Schools of North Carolina.
14485 • READING, WRITING, AND READY BY THIRD GRADE: EARLY GRADES LITERACY INSTRUCTION
November 13–16: Ocracoke
Literacy instruction is as difficult as it is essential. This program will provide early grades teachers with a complement of research-based tools and strategies to help answer some of their more burning questions: How do I teach close reading to students who don’t yet know the alphabet? What level of writing can I attain from children who are still learning to spell? How do I simultaneously provide enrichment for advanced readers and remediation for delayed readers? How can I integrate reading and writing instruction into all other subject areas? Finally, what does this instruction look like in the classroom and how are student engagement and learning measured in this process?
14489 • GOOGLE TOOLS IN SCHOOLS
December 4–7: Ocracoke
Whether or not your school or district has adopted a Google Chromebook environment, if your LEA infrastructure allows for the use of Google Tools and/or Apps, the “Googlesphere” can be an immense help. It can aid in engaging students, keeping in touch with parents, automating feedback and assessment, sharing documents, and more. Hone your skills with the Google Chrome Browser, with Google Apps, with Android Apps, and with Chrome OS so that you can engage your students using freely available tools on almost any platform.
Women in Educational Leadership Symposium (WIELS) Call for Proposals
The second conference of the Women in Educational Leadership Symposium (WIELS) will be held at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina on September 22 through September 24, 2017. The purpose of WIELS is to bring women together to share, learn, and grow in leadership. Women who are interested in learning from others and those who are willing to share skills and expertise are urged to attend. This conference aims to provide personalized learning and mentoring opportunities for those who aspire to become or currently serve as educational leaders. The conference theme is Advancing the Leader Within: Building Capacity. Attendees are urged to submit proposals on salient issues, skills, and experiences affecting women leaders.
The Friday Report is published weekly by the Public School Forum of NC and is distributed to Forum members, policymakers, donors, media, and Forum subscribers. Archived editions can be found at www.ncforum.org.