State News

 

NC Principal Vows to ‘Break this Cycle’ after 60% of Teachers Leave in One Year

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When Claude Archer (pictured above) became principal of West Edgecombe Middle School last year, he knew the job would be a challenge. The school was struggling. It had low test scores, high poverty rates and student discipline problems that had plagued principals before him. But that wasn’t all.
Not long after he was hired, Archer learned of another problem. West Edgecombe was losing teachers. Fast.
Archer was in a principals’ meeting when he first saw how many teachers had left over the years. The numbers seemed unusually high. The school lost nearly 60 percent of its teachers in one year? Archer scanned the information in disbelief.
“Is this right? Is this correct?” he asked.
It was.
Where did the teachers go?
West Edgecombe Middle is one of 14 schools in the Edgecombe County public school system. The county has struggled for years with teacher turnover, routinely losing staff at a higher rate than the average North Carolina school district.
Last year, the county reported losing 24 percent of its teachers – the eighth highest rate in the state. But when broken down by school level, Edgecombe’s teacher turnover numbers look even more troubling.
According to 2014-15 state data, the county lost 46 percent of its middle school teachers – more than any other school system in the state. The average North Carolina school district lost 16 percent.
Of the county’s schools, West Edgecombe Middle had the highest turnover. Sixteen of its 27 teachers left – a nearly 60 percent loss. Most of those who left were experienced teachers. Two of the 16 were beginning teachers, according to state records.
Those who live in and love Edgecombe County say these numbers only tell part of the story. The district is in the midst of a dramatic transformation, school leaders say, one that other struggling school systems will want to learn from in the future.
Supporters point to a number of accomplishments, including higher teacher satisfaction rates, more supplemental pay for teachers and preliminary data showing that teacher turnover, while still high, appears to be improving.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:
Forum’s Keith Poston on Teacher Pay, Recruitment and Education Funding

 

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Forum President & Executive Director Keith Poston (pictured above) appeared last weekend on “News and Views with Chris Fitzsimon”, a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. Topics covered included teacher pay, recruitment and overall education funding. The full interview can be heard here.

Nominate an Outstanding Education Leader!

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The Public School Forum is seeking nominations for education leaders to be profiled on our new weekly TV show, Education Matters that premieres in October on WRAL-TV. Do you have a great leader in your local school? Nominate them today! We are seeking leaders who make a difference in their school each and every day – Teachers, Principals, Assistant Principals, Teacher Assistants, Students, Superintendents…Parents too!
To nominate an education leader, please fill out the form at
In This Issue

 

NC Principal Vows to ‘Break this Cycle’ after 60% of Teachers Leave in One Year

Nominate an Outstanding Education Leader!

 

Next Time, Let’s Listen To What Teachers Want

 

Many NC School Districts Struggle to Find Teachers

 

Remember Teaching Fellows?

 

Study to Pinpoint Counties’ Ability to Pay for School Construction

 

Forsyth County Schools Could Be Eligible for Charter Takeover

 

President Obama Honors Outstanding Mathematics and Science Teachers

 

Audit Finds Chaotic Financial Management at Tennessee’s Achievement School District

 

In Some U.S. Schools, Resistance to Ending Corporal Punishment

 

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for Career Awards for Science & Math Teachers

 

NC Creating Plan to Meet New Federal Education Requirements

SECU Appalachian Partnership Scholarship

 

NC Creating Plan to Meet New Federal Education Requirements

Public School Forum Programs

 

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Coming Soon!

 

Premiering Sunday, October 2 at 11:30 AM ET on WRAL-TV, the Forum’s new weekly TV show  Education Matters will feature real facts about the state of public education in North Carolina.

 

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Next Time, Let’s Listen To What Teachers Want

 

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Every summer the North Carolina General Assembly debates teacher pay. And every year we ask the same question—who will get a raise and how much? And every time we get the same answer—not enough. This year was no different.
The legislature did approve a significant one-time salary increase with promises for a more over three years, and that’s a step in the right direction. However, without a truly comprehensive long-term strategy we’ll be right back here next year debating this issue all over again. We will never do enough for teachers following this pattern. Instead of subjecting teachers to a political debate every year, North Carolina needs a multi-year commitment, a goal and a series of principles upon which we can build a compensation system that works and makes teaching in North Carolina attractive again.
Moreover, any plan that would overhaul the current system or introduce new principles, will be met with skepticism unless teachers have a say in its creation. So, Think North Carolina First had the novel idea to ask teachers how they’d structure teacher compensation.
To do that they engaged the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), a national nonprofit based right here in North Carolina that has years of experience engaging teachers in policy debates. CTQ assembled a team of eight teacher-leaders from across North Carolina and from a variety of teaching backgrounds to debate teacher compensation and come up with recommendations for policymakers.
The eight teachers teach a variety of subjects in schools around the state. They came to teaching through traditional and alternative paths, including straight out of college, after service in the military, or after work in other professions. These teachers discussed their experiences, combed over the history and research on teacher compensation, and interacted online with hundreds of teaching colleagues to test and sharpen their ideas.
The resulting report, Transforming teachers’ careers and compensation in North Carolina: A vision from some of the state’s best teachers, offers a series of principles and policy recommendations that provide a starting place for a meaningful discussion of teacher pay in North Carolina.
The teachers call for policymakers to move beyond debates on pay that are disconnected from the evidence of what works and yield no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs. The system of teacher compensation they prescribe is based on what motivates teachers to perform at high levels and spread their expertise to colleagues—in the service of advancing student learning.
Their recommendations start with a series of six core principles on which a system could be built:
  1. Teacher compensation must begin with sound base pay that values teaching as a profession and includes additional salary and bonuses that fuel leadership, innovation, and creativity;
  2. The evaluation process for identifying, recognizing, and rewarding teacher leaders must be transparent and trustworthy;
  3. Informal (as well as formal) leadership roles must be valued—and incentives for leading cannot be limited to financial ones;
  4. Leadership opportunities must be available for all teachers, not just a few individuals;
  5. Incentives and rewards, like those in top-performing nations, must focus on teachers who spread their expertise to others; and
  6. School districts must create the right working conditions—including principals who know how to cultivate teacher leaders—in order to recruit and retain classroom experts in high-need schools.
Based on these core principles, the teachers call for a policy approach that reflects a longer-term approach—versus our current election-driven dynamic—to attracting, growing, and retaining teachers. An approach that provides incentives for practice and leadership that will advance student learning.
For this career and compensation system, the teacher leaders recommend a base pay ranging from $40,000 – $56,000 (the upper bound pegged to the national average) and 5 – 15 percent differentials for demonstrated performance and taking on additional roles. At the top of the scale, teacher leaders could earn $130,000—comparable to the salaries of accomplished nurses.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:
Many NC School Districts Struggle to Find Teachers

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Newly hired teachers and staff at a 2015 orientation for Wake County Public Schools.
Photo Credit: Jess Clark, WUNC
School districts across the state say they have somewhat fewer teacher vacancies going into this school year than they did in 2015. But many students will still have substitutes for the first weeks of school.
Johnston County Schools had 59 vacancies on Friday, down from 69 at this time last year. The district is faring a little better than last year due to more aggressive recruiting, according to Johnston schools’ Human Resources Director Brian Vetrano.
“We’ve spent more time and money in recruiting,” he said. “In addition to attending, I think, every university job fair in the state, we traveled out of state as well,” he added, saying Johnston sent representatives to states as far away as New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Vetrano said like many North Carolina districts, Johnston is suffering from a slowdown in the teacher pipeline. “Even today if the state were to increase teacher salaries above and beyond what they already have, we’re still faced with not having a sufficient number of college graduates in those areas,” he said.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
For an additional related story, see RSS starts the school year with 70 teacher vacancies.
Excerpt from:
Remember Teaching Fellows?

 

State lawmakers have finally taken a bold step toward addressing the looming teacher shortage in public schools. The Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate worked with Democrats to create a scholarship program to encourage bright high school students to enter the teaching profession.
Students in the top 20 percent of their high school class can apply for a scholarship of up to $7,500 a year for their four years in college if they agree to spend at least five years as a teacher.
The bill passed the House and Senate nearly unanimously and was signed by the conservative Republican governor with great fanfare.The program will gear up this year with the first scholarships awarded for the 2017-2018 academic year.
But there’s a problem.
Bright high school students in North Carolina won’t have access to the program. It was created this year not by the N.C. General Assembly but by the conservative Republican Indiana House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican nominee for vice president.
And if the details of the Next Generation Hoosier Educator Scholarship sound familiar, they should. The program is not only patterned after the widely-acclaimed N.C. Teaching Fellows Program that the General Assembly abolished here in 2011, Indiana officials checked in with the staff of the Public School Forum of North Carolina that operated the Teaching Fellows program when designing the Indiana version. Forum President Keith Poston says he has been contacted by folks from numerous states.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.
For more information on the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, view the 2015 Public School Forum report (left), A Legacy of Inspired Educators – A Report on the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, 1986-2015.
Excerpt from:
Study to Pinpoint Counties’ Ability to Pay for School Construction

 

State lawmakers are spending $1 million to hire a firm to study school construction needs in all 100 North Carolina counties to obtain a clearer picture of which counties face the greatest challenges.
As students across the state head back to school in the next couple of weeks, they will return to schools that range from brand new to decrepit.
While the state pays most of the personnel costs for teachers and school employees, counties are responsible for building and maintaining schools. Wake County and other urban areas can borrow money to build new schools, but poorer counties have a hard time paying for renovations to 50-year-old buildings. Some lawmakers say it’s time for the state to help level the playing field.
Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, said Scotland County, which is in his district, has the state’s highest poverty rate and the highest jobless rate, which means its property tax rate of $1.03 per $100 valuation – that’s also the state’s highest – doesn’t generate much revenue.
“They can’t charge any more taxes. They’re past their limit for taxes,” McInnis said. “Yet, they have schools that are built in the ’40s and ’50s and ’60s that need replacing. They have needs for a new school, but how to pay for it is certainly not going to be raising taxes.”
Previous studies on the issue have recommended extra state funding for low-wealth counties, but McInnis said that amounts to more than 70 counties. “We need to get it down to what real need is, and that’s the bottom 20 or 30 or 40 that are historically rural, with high tax rates, with no opportunity for growth, with decreasing population,” he said.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:
Forsyth County Schools Could Be Eligible for Charter Takeover

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For five elementary schools in North Carolina, this school year will be the last in which they are part of the local school systems that built them.
The State Board of Education will spend this year planning for the state’s new Achievement School District, in which five low-performing elementary schools will be targeted for takeover by charter school operators.
One of those schools very well could end up being in Forsyth County.
“Absolutely,” said Beverly Emory, superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. “I would imagine… there would be some look our way.”
Based on last year’s state performance scores, Forsyth County is home to as many as eight of North Carolina’s lowest performing elementary schools and could be looked at for inclusion in the ASD. The state will choose five elementary schools, each from a different district and each performing in the bottom five percent on the state’s grading scale — based mostly on state test scores.
The bill, signed into law last month, calls upon the State Board of Education to hire a superintendent for the new district and select five schools for the ASD pilot in 2017. Once selected, a district can either relinquish that school to the state — and, eventually, the charter management operator selected to run it — or close the school.
Of the eight Forsyth County schools performing in the lowest five percent of elementary based on 2014-15 scores, at least four those currently meet additional criteria laid out for ASD eligibility. Cook, Ashley, Easton and Kimberley Park elementary schools were among those identified last school year as federal priority schools and already have turnaround plans in place that could keep them out of the ASD mix.
To read the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:
NC Highlight

President Obama Honors Outstanding Mathematics and Science Teachers

This week, President Obama named 213 mathematics and science teachers as recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. These awardees represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. The educators will receive their awards at a ceremony in Washington, DC on September 8.
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level. Each nomination year of the award alternates between teachers in the kindergarten through 6th grade level, and those teaching 7th through 12th grades. The cohort of awardees named today represent two nomination years, one of teachers in kindergarten through 6th grade classrooms and the other in 7th through 12th grade classrooms.
Winners of this Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion, and are invited to Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony, as well educational and celebratory events, and visits with members of the Administration.
The four North Carolina Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching recipients are:
  • Justin Osterstrom (science)
  • Kayonna Pitchford (mathematics)
  • Karen Newman (science)
  • Lauren Baucom (mathematics)
Source:
National News

 

Audit Finds Chaotic Financial Management at Tennessee’s Achievement School District

 

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It’s in charge of turning around Tennessee’s failing schools, but the state’s Achievement School District now has its own flunking grade from state Comptroller watchdogs.
The just-released audit by the Division of State Audit provides a blistering critique into what auditors say is the agency’s lack of internal financial controls over basic functions.
So just how bad are things at the agency that directly manages five public schools and contracts with private charter groups to operate 24 other schools falling into the bottom five percent of schools statewide in terms of student performance?
Even as Division of State Audit accountants’ examination was still underway this spring, the state Department of Education, which had allowed the ASD to operate independently, informed the Comptroller’s office in April that it had staged an intervention and seized control over the ASD’s “fiscal and federal processes.”
As a result, the functions were transferred from Memphis to Nashville with a turnover of the ASD’s financial staff. Education Commissioner Candice McQueen’s staff told auditors they were hiring a fiscal director, fiscal manager, accountant, account tech, federal programs director and federal programs manager.
Problem areas cited by the Division of State Audit ranged from loose controls over spending, travel and credit cards to insufficient monitoring of the actual schools that ASD runs or contracts out.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:
In Some U.S. Schools, Resistance to Ending Corporal Punishment

Two licks with a wooden paddle in the principal’s office was the price 11-year-old Kaley Zacher, of Dexter, Georgia, paid for ignoring warnings about falling behind in her school work.
Rules are rules, said her mother, Kimberly Zacher, so why shouldn’t the punishment be the same as at home when her daughter falls out of line? “What we instill in our children is if you break the rules, there’s a punishment that you have to suffer the consequences for,” she said. “You don’t want to give two sets of rules.”
Although corporal punishment in American schools has declined in recent decades, paddling is still on the books in 19 states despite calls from the U.S. Education Department to curb punitive discipline, which has been shown to affect minority and disabled students disproportionately.
“We know that the use of corporal punishment tends to be intertwined with other factors, such as a child’s race or disability status,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Tanya Clay House said in a statement Tuesday.
Black children were more than twice as likely to be corporally punished than white children, and nearly eight times more likely to be corporally punished than Hispanic children, the Children’s Defense Fund said in a 2014 report that analyzed 2009-10 Education Department data.
But in corners of the country where it remains deeply woven in culture and tradition, some school administrators say corporal punishment has broad support from parents, that it preserves learning time that would be lost to a suspension, and that they see little need to give up a practice that dates back generations.
“Corporal punishment is an immediate consequence to an action, and there’s no down time. … It’s really pretty effective,” said Camille Wright, a superintendent in Enterprise, Alabama, part of the mostly southern swath of states where paddling is still allowed.
The U.S. Education Department, whose statistics show that more than 100,000 students are subjected to corporal punishment annually, has been urging schools through its “ReThink Discipline” initiative to create safe and supportive climates that emphasize positive behavior.
“The Department of Education strongly believes that states have the power to change,” House said.
Several medical and human rights groups have called for an end to a practice criticized as ineffective and potentially harmful. “You want to keep kids in the classroom, but to suggest that the only way to keep them in is to beat them with a stick is ludicrous,” said Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. The ACLU teamed with Human Rights Watch for a 2009 report that called for banning corporal punishment in schools, saying things like peer courts, conflict resolution programs and character education were better approaches.
“Paddling can cause pain, humiliation, and in some cases deep bruising or other lasting physical or mental injury,” the report said.
Many states have outlawed corporal punishment in schools, but it remains legal in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Opportunities

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for Career Awards for Science & Math Teachers

 

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is currently accepting applications for the Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers (CASMT). CASMT is a five-year award available to outstanding science and/or mathematics teachers in the North Carolina public primary and secondary schools. The purpose of this award is to recognize teachers who have demonstrated solid knowledge of science and/or mathematics content and have outstanding performance records in educating children. This five-year award presents opportunities for professional development and collaboration with other master science and/or mathematics teachers who will help to ensure their success as teachers and their satisfaction with the field of teaching. Special consideration will be given to teachers working in hard-to-staff, economically deprived classrooms in North Carolina. The award also offers schools and school districts the opportunity to fully develop teachers as leaders in the field.

Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers provide $175,000 over a period of five years ($35,000 per year) to eligible teachers in the North Carolina public school system.
The application deadline is September 25, 2016.
NC Creating Plan to Meet New Federal Education Requirements

 

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What will the new federal education law, Every Student Succeeds Act, mean for North Carolina students? State educators and policymakers are crafting North Carolina’s plan now for submission to the US Department of Education during its March submission calendar.
Academic indicators will continue to include proficiency on English language arts/reading and mathematics, progress of English language learners, graduation rates, and a to-be-decided other academic indicator for elementary and middle schools. In addition, the new law requires the inclusion of other measures of school quality or student success as long as those indicators are valid and reliable, comparable, available statewide, and meaningful indicators of student success.
Input is being collected online through the “Let’s Talk” application, which may be accessed from the Department’s website; in regional meetings with superintendents and school officials; as well as in six public comment sessions to be held from 4-6 p.m. on each of the following dates:
October 6 – North Wilkesboro
October 12 – Jacksonville
October 18 – Fayetteville
October 19 – Tarboro
October 24 – Waynesville
October 25 – Burlington
Reprinted from:
SECU Appalachian Partnership Scholarship

 

As the new school year begins, there will be many new teachers in the classroom. Twenty-nine of those new teachers were part of the first graduating class for the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Appalachian Partnership Scholarship at Appalachian State University.
Through a generous grant from the State Employees’ Credit Union, students enrolled in Appalachian’s elementary education, middle grades education or special education degree programs are eligible for the scholarship that will cover most of the tuition during their program.
The SECU Appalachian Partnership Scholarship is designed to assist students who are completing their bachelor’s degree at one of Appalachian’s Distance Education off-campus sites in Burke, Caldwell, Catawba and Wilkes counties. This assistance comes in the form of both financial assistance – the scholarship – and programming assistance, such as career development workshops. The ultimate goal of the scholarship and program is to produce highly prepared teachers to teach in their home counties.
For the 2015-2016 academic year, 81 students received a SECU Appalachian Partnership Scholarship for a total of $109,700.
For more information on the SECU Appalachian Partnership Scholarship, contact Rebekah Saylors at saylorsrw@appstate.edu or click here to learn more.
 

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.

 

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Photo: Kelly Hinchcliffe, WRAL

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