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The Friday Report

April 28, 2017

Leading News

Governor Signs Reprieve on Smaller Class Sizes

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Photo Credit: News & Observer

The deal to ease reductions required for elementary school class sizes won final legislative approval on Thursday as lawmakers sought to save art and physical education classes.

The House voted 112-3 on House Bill 13. Gov. Roy Cooper signed it soon after it passed.

A public education advocacy group, Public Schools First NC, wanted the House to reject the bill to get a promise of future state funding for art and P.E., but no serious objection materialized among House members.

Some school districts were having trouble meeting a requirement to lower maximum class sizes in kindergarten through third grade from 24 students to between 19 and 21 students beginning this fall. The limits were written into the budget. Some districts were preparing to lay off art and P.E. teachers so they could hire more classroom teachers.

Cooper said in a statement that Republicans in the legislature should invest more in education.

“While this legislation addresses immediate concerns, the failure of legislative Republicans to properly fund our schools has risked the jobs of educators and jeopardized our children’s future,” Cooper said. “It’s imperative that we quit kicking the can down the road.”

The House wanted to continue to allow larger classes, but Senate Republicans are suspicious of how districts are spending money intended to help lower class sizes.

The deal announced Monday requires smaller classes this fall, but not as small as originally intended.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Bonner, L. “Governor signs reprieve on smaller class sizes.” The News & Observer. 4/27/17.

Forum News

This Weekend on Education Matters: State Superintendent Mark Johnson Talks Class Size, State Board Lawsuit & Listening Tour

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This week on Education Matters State Superintendent Mark Johnson talks HB13 class size debate, the State Board lawsuit, his listening tour and why he’s focusing on early literacy. This week’s show also includes a discussion with PNC Bank Regional President Jim Hansen and Dr. Kenneth Dodge from Duke University’s Center for Child & Family Policy about the importance of early childhood education.

Guests Include:

  • Mark Johnson, North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Jim Hansen, Regional President, PNC Bank
  • Dr. Kenneth Dodge, Director of the Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University

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When and Where to Watch Education Matters

Saturdays at 7:30 PM, WRAL-TV (Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville)

Sundays at 6:30 AM and Mondays at 3:00 PM, UNC-TV’s NC Channel (Statewide)

Online at https://www.ncforum.org/

Note: The North Carolina Channel can be found on Time Warner Cable/Spectrum Channel 1276 or check local listing and other providers here.

If you missed last week’s episode on Race: Are We So Different?, you can watch it online at 

https://www.ncforum.org/education-matters-race-are-we-so-different/

Public School Forum Programs

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We’re Moving!

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Same office park, different building.
Effective May 1

Northampton Building
3725 National Drive

Suite 101
Raleigh, NC 27612

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Crossover Week is over. This means that there is a relatively “closed universe” of free-standing bills that can stay alive over the course of this 2017 Long Session – these bills have passed at least one Chamber of the General Assembly.  There are some exceptions to this rule, of course, but generally no new education policy bills (without finance or appropriations components) are allowed, unless the policy is written into the Budget bill (which, by the way, always happens).
Aside from the big House Bill 13 compromise which the Governor signed on Thursday night, the other less-reported yet important public education bills that survived Crossover this week include:
House Bill 514 Permit Municipal Charter School/Certain Towns
  • Authorizes the towns of Mint Hill and Matthews (close to Charlotte) to start their own local municipal charter schools.
  • These would be new schools operated by their local town council separate from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
  • The towns have indicated they would hire a for-profit charter school management company to run the schools.
House Bill 600 School Construction Flexibility
  • Allows a private developer to enter into an operating lease for new school construction with a local board of education.
  • A local school system’s capital outlay fund would include lease payments for leases under the permitted list of appropriations.
  • Revises the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds procedures in school construction funding.
House Bill 704 Divide School Systems/Study Committee
  • Creates a 10-member (legislators only) committee that would study “the Division of Local School Administrative Units” that must submit its final report by May 1, 2018.
  • Requires studying the following:
    • The feasibility of permitting LEAs, that are now the result of merged school systems, to be divided into separate school systems again.
    • The best ways to divide such a school system.
    • Whether to require a vote of that county’s voters.
House Bill 779 Charter School Changes
  • One of the most controversial charter school law bills of the Session.
  • Decreases the number of charters that must seek a “material revision” approval from the State Board of Education (and therefore would loosen state oversight on charter schools).
  • Redefines “material revision” requirement to include:
    • A charter school that is not “low-performing” and has enrollment growth of greater than 30% (current law sets the bar at 20%);
    • A charter school that is “low-performing” and has enrollment growth of greater than 20%.
  • Allows charter schools to seek to offer Pre-K classes.
  • Expands priority enrollment to a student who had previously been enrolled in any charter school in the state.
  • Grants a “modular unit tax exemption” for schools: public, nonprofit privates, and community colleges.
House Bill 800 Various Changes to Charter School Laws
  • Allows up to 50% of a school’s total enrollment to be made up by children of either school employees or of a “charter partner.”
  • A “charter partner” is defined as a NC business that has donated property, building(s), major renovations (including technology) valued at or above $50,000.
House Bill 826 Modify Low-Performing School Definition
  • Changes state law for both traditional public schools and charter schools. 
  • Rewrites state law to define a “low-performing school”.
  • Schools that “meet growth” would no longer be designated as “low-performing”. 

Senate Bill 531 School Boards Can’t Sue Counties

  • Removes from current state statute any local school board’s remedy to file a legal action against its local board of county commissioners in the event the county commissioners do not adequately fund their local school system.
  • Further removes the formal mediation procedure from statute.
  • Declares, as a matter of law, the decision of the county commissioners as final, if a joint meeting (not a formal mediation) conducted by a court-selected mediator fails.

Join the Public School Forum on May 18 to Honor Former Senator Howard Lee

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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.

Event tickets can be purchased at https://2017jayrobinsonawardgala.eventbrite.com.

To learn more about becoming a sponsor for the 2017 Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award Gala, view the 2017 Jay Robinson Sponsorship Packet.

If you are interested in discussing a sponsorship, contact Keith Poston at kposton@ncforum.org or call 919-781-6833.

State News

North Carolina May Change What is Labeled A Low-Performing School

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Students, parents and 1st-grade teacher Ashley Yap (left background) meet and greet in the doorway to Yap’s classroom in the newly rebuilt Green Elementary School in Raleigh on August 24 2016. The  NC House has passed a bill that changes the definition of low-performing schools. Under that definition, Green would not have labeled as low performing.

Photo Credit: News & Observer file photo

Hundreds of schools each year would avoid the stigma of being labeled by the state as low-performing under a bill unanimously approved by the state House on Wednesday.

House Bill 826 changes the definition of low-performing schools to exclude schools with D and F performance grades that met growth targets on state exams. Supporters said the change gives a more realistic and fair view of how North Carolina schools are performing.

“Rather than putting schools that are meeting growth in with the low-performing definition of a host of other schools, this bill simply strikes that and lets them stand in a little bit better status,” Rep. Dennis Riddell, an Alamance County Republican and one of the bill’s primary sponsors, said at Tuesday’s House Education Committee meeting.

If the definition had been used this past school year, 242 fewer schools would have been listed as low performing. The bill passed 120-0. It now goes to the Senate.

Governor Kicks Off Inaugural Education Cabinet Meeting

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Democratic Governor Roy Cooper held his first Education Cabinet meeting yesterday, calling on members to work together and eschew ideology and politics. “We all owe the citizens of this state to put all that political stuff aside … regardless of what happens, we need to be working in the same direction,” he said

.

But politics did crop up earlier in the meeting. When asked to introduce his staff, cabinet member Mark Johnson, the state’s Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction, made introductions and then pointed out one significant omission.

“And maybe one day I’ll have a chief of staff,” he said.

The comment is a reference to a lawsuit the State Board of Education is engaged in over legislation passed during a special session in December that transferred some of the State Board’s power to the superintendent. Under the law, Johnson would have hiring authority on certain personnel that the State Board currently selects. One of those positions is his own chief of staff. He can make recommendations, but the ultimate decision rests with the State Board. There is a temporary restraining order in place halting the transfer of powers until a court can decide the case. The hearing is scheduled to start on June 29.

Johnson is a party to the lawsuit and has been critical of the State Board’s position with regards to the legislation and lawsuit. State Board Chair Bill Cobey, a Republican, is also a member of the Education Cabinet and attended the meeting yesterday.

The same law transferring powers to the superintendent also limits the power of the governor, but that is the subject of a separate lawsuit.

The bulk of the Education Cabinet meeting, however, was about deciding on the Cabinet’s focus as it meets regularly during Cooper’s tenure. In particular, Cooper was interested in talking about early childhood education, but the group also talked about other subjects such as workforce development, high school diploma integrity, graduation rates, and how to better gather data on what’s happening with the state’s students.

The Education Cabinet will likely meet again in 3 and a half months, Cooper said.

The members of the Education Cabinet are:

  • Superintendent Mark Johnson
  • UNC System President Margaret Spellings
  • State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey
  • NC Community College System President Jimmy Williamson
  • NC Independent Colleges & Universities President Hope Williams
  • Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen
  • Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland

To read the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Granados, A. “
Governor kicks off inaugural Education Cabinet meeting.” EducationNC. 4/28/17.

Bill To Study Breaking Up School Districts Passes NC House

North Carolina lawmakers would look at how to split school districts into smaller ones under a bill passed Wednesday by the state House.

House Bill 704 would create a joint legislative study committee to look into whether legislation should be introduced to allow for the breakup of previously merged school systems. The committee would also consider how to divide school districts and whether a local referendum or petition would be needed before a district could be split.

“This is a bill to create a study on whether or not some large school systems should be broken up,” said Rep. Bill Brawley, a Republican from Mecklenburg County and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “It is merely a study and is not aimed for any particular school system.”

The bill was approved 104-16 and now goes to the Senate. If approved, the committee made up of state lawmakers would make a final report by May 1, 2018.

To continue reading the complete article click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, T. “Bill to study breaking up school districts passes NC House.” The News & Observer. 4/26/17.

North Carolina’s Long Summer Vacations Are Being Challenged

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Some folks can’t get enough of summer. Others see it as a problem that needs fixing.

For more than a dozen years, North Carolina has mandated the beginning and end of summer vacation for public schools. The law was designed to support tourism at the state’s beaches and mountain getaways, and appease parents who were unhappy as some districts kept moving up the first day of school.

But as studies show flexible school calendars could improve student performance, the law faces its strongest challenge yet. Close to 60 bills have been filed in the General Assembly this year that would exempt local districts, move up the first day of school, or do away with state mandates altogether.

“We know that summer learning loss is one of the biggest issues,” said Leanne Winner with the North Carolina School Boards Association. “The easiest way to deal with that would be to not have as long as break — you wouldn’t have as much loss.”

Lining up in favor of a longer summer are the same associations representing hotels, restaurants and real estate agents that joined many parents in supporting the original 2004 law. They say a traditional summer break helps schools, with tourism generating almost $1.8 billion in revenues in 2015, according to the state’s economic development organization.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Robertson, G. “North Carolina’s long summer vacations are being challenged.” Associated Press. 4/23/17.

National News

Trump Orders Study of Federal Role in Education

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President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos meet with parents and teachers at a

Catholic school in Florida in March. Photo Credit: Jonathan Ernst, Reuters.

President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that requires Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study whether and how the federal government has overstepped its legal authority in K-12 schools, a move he framed as part of a broader effort to shift power from Washington to states and local communities.

“Previous administrations have wrongfully forced states and schools to comply with federal whims and dictate what our kids are taught,” Trump said at the White House. “But we know that local communities do it best and know it best.”

The order does not invest DeVos with any new authority. She already has broad powers to revise or withdraw policies that her predecessors promulgated.

Rob Goad, a department official, said the order gives DeVos 300 days to conduct a review to identify any regulations or guidance related to K-12 schools that is inconsistent with federal law. The review will be led by a task force headed by Robert Eitel, a senior counselor to DeVos who previously worked for a for-profit college company.

The GOP has long been home to lawmakers who say that the federal government should not be involved in public education. But complaints of federal overreach intensified during President Barack Obama’s administration as the department wielded billions of dollars in stimulus funds — and promises of relief from the No Child Left Behind law — to push states toward adopting new teacher evaluations and Common Core academic standards.

The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 transferred much authority over public schools from the federal government to the states. Many on the right are looking for signs that Trump will do more to unwind the federal role in education.

Opportunities

Applications Open for 2017-18 NC Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP)

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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.

Application information for both EPFP Central and EPFP West can be found online at https://www.ncforum.org/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 http://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 president@ncpta.org by Wednesday, May 10th.  If you have questions about the opportunity, please contact Kelly Langston at president@ncpta.org.  

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.

Conference proposals are due by May 31, 2017. Visit https://wiels.appstate.edu/about-us/call-proposals to submit a proposal. 

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.

©2017 Public School Forum of North Carolina. All Rights Reserved.

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