Forum News

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 

State News

Some Voucher Schools Get State Money, Discriminate Against LGBT Students

At least four faith-based private schools in Mecklenburg County receive taxpayer money through a state voucher program while sections of their handbooks prohibit lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students from enrolling.
The schools are within state law. It prohibits discrimination in nonpublic schools based on race, gender and national origin, but does not address sexual orientation or gender identity.
The vouchers, known as Opportunity Scholarships, offer up to $4,200 per year to students from low-income families for private school tuition. The scholarships are paid through the state’s general fund.
More than 400 schools participate in the voucher program, according to the Opportunity Scholarship website. About 50 of those are in Mecklenburg County.
Many have written policies against discrimination, but don’t address gender identity or sexual orientation. Four schools – Bible Baptist Christian in Matthews, Charlotte United Christian in south Charlotte, Lake Norman Christian and Northside Christian in north Charlotte – note in their handbooks that they reserve the right to refuse admission to a student who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Forum President and Executive Director Keith Poston spoke to the Charlotte Observer Editorial Board this week after the initial news story was published and the newspaper’s editorial staff weighed in strongly. Below is an excerpt from the editorial: 
Don’t tax people for a government service, then tell them they can’t have the service. If you’re trying to imagine the most infuriating thing a government official could ever say to you, try this one on for size:
“Your family’s money is welcome here, but your kids aren’t.”
Isn’t that what the North Carolina legislature and private religious schools are saying to gay, lesbian and transgender children’s families?
The complete editorial can be found here.
Excerpt from:

North Carolina Teachers Cover Classroom Costs on their Own Dime

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Guilford County fourth grade math teacher Diana Watson scopes out the shelves of donated markers and highlighters at the Guilford County Teacher Supply Warehouse. Photo Credit: Jess Clark, WUNC.
Guilford County second grade teacher Nicole Batts-Elder scoped out shelves stacked with spiral notebooks, multicolor folders and bundles of unsharpened pencils at the Guilford County Teacher Supply Warehouse on a recent afternoon.
She’s trying to save money on materials for her classroom, a task she says sets her back $500 to $600 a year. “Anything from baskets to border to notebooks to pencils, to tissue to pencil sharpeners,” she said. “I mean just little things, like shoestrings.”
The shop, supported by the Guilford Education Alliance, lets teachers visit four times a school year to pick out donated school supplies that teachers often spend their own money on.  At the warehouse, items each cost a certain amount of “points” depending on demand. Guilford County teachers get 20 points each visit. The warehouse also has additional room full of items that are completely free with no point value.
Batts-Elder works at Cone Elementary, a Title I school, where the majority of her kids come from low-income households. She said a lot of these are supplies schools run out of, or things that students are supposed to bring, but show up without. “Our kids come with what they can bring,” Batts-Elder said. “Is it everything? No. Is it the majority of stuff?  No. But we make it work.”
Batts-Elder is not alone. Teachers across the state are stocking their classrooms for the start of the school year, and most are using their own money to do it.
Recent national surveys from the National School Supply and Equipment Association show teachers spend an average of $500 to nearly $1,000 a year out of their own pockets to stock their classrooms.
To make it work since the recession, teachers and schools have had to dig deep. Not only are families less able to afford classroom supplies on their own, but North Carolina schools are less likely to have the funding they need for classroom materials.

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Data represents state funding for classroom supplies, instructional materials and equipment. Source: NCDPI. Reprinted from WUNC.
In 2011, state lawmakers cut funding for school supplies in half, from about $60 per student, to $30. Starting this academic school year, classrooms will see about $40 dollars per student.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

In This Issue

Nominate an Outstanding Education Leader!

Some Voucher Schools Get State Money, Discriminate Against LGBT Students

North Carolina Teachers Cover Classroom Costs on their Own Dime

Wake County Cuts School Cleanings to Help Balance Budget

Forum’s James Ford Welcomes New Teachers in Cabarrus

Back to School: Enrollment Up a Bit as Kids Return to School

Ohio Must Rethink How Online Charter Schools Are Funded Says State’s Auditor

Virtual Schools Must Follow Special Education Rules, Ed. Department Says

Should Teenagers Start High School Later in the Morning? More Districts Consider It.

SECU Appalachian Partnership Scholarship

NC Creating Plan to Meet New Federal Education Requirements

RFP for Principal Preparation Programs

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

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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Wake County Cuts School Cleanings to Help Balance Budget

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Delmi Umana, head custodian at Hodge Road Elementary School in Knightdale, cleans the rug
in a classroom at the school on July 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Ethan Hyman, The News & Observer.
In the face of a $17.5 million budget shortfall, Wake County school board members agreed Tuesday to make a painful series of cuts that include reducing how often schools are cleaned and how much money is spent on instructional supplies.
Middle and high schools will go from being vacuumed and swept three days a week to twice a week. But in a last-minute compromise Tuesday, the board backed a plan that will reduce cleaning in elementary schools to every other weekday instead of twice a week. Elementary schools will be cleaned five days every two-week period, or one fewer day than the current schedule.
“I want to express my frustration that the budget right now, at what is viewed as the second year, or maybe third year of our ‘recovery’ after the Great Recession, that we’re talking about how often we’re going to vacuum our rooms,” said school board member Kevin Hill.
In addition to being vacuumed and swept less often, schools will also become less comfortable. To save $405,000, school temperatures will be raised one degree to 75 degrees in the summer and lowered one degree to 68 degrees in the winter.
Most of the budget shortfall comes from the school system getting $11.8 million less than what it requested this year from the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Wake is also dealing with the impact of bigger-than-expected teacher pay raises from the state and cuts in state funding in areas such as transportation and central administration.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

Forum’s James Ford Welcomes New Teachers in Cabarrus

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“I could teach you so much if you just listen.”
Those words from a high school English teacher triggered something in James Ford (pictured right). Those words inspired him to straighten up, get his grades under control and go on to become the 2014-15 North Carolina Teacher of the Year.
And that designation led him to Cabarrus County on Tuesday, Aug, 16 where he spoke to new teachers about their talents and calling to be an educator.
Ford spoke to almost 350 new teachers during an annual new teacher luncheon at Jay M. Robinson High School hosted by the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce for Cabarrus County Schools and Kannapolis City Schools.
“You all are some of my favorite people. I love teachers,” Ford told them. “You guys are salt of the Earth kind of people. Teachers have been so important to me in my life.”
Ford is the program director at the Public School Forum of North Carolina, an education think-tank and advocacy organization. Prior to this he served as the 2014-15 North Carolina Teacher of the Year and the representative for 95,000 public school teachers throughout the state. He was a world history at Garinger High School in Charlotte.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

National News

Back to School: Enrollment Up a Bit as Kids Return to School

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No more staying up late during the week. Farewell to sleeping in. And hello, homework!
The lazy days of summer are ending for millions of children as they grab their backpacks, pencils and notebooks and return to the classroom for a new school year.
Some facts and figures to know as the new school year begins:
ENROLLMENT AND COSTS
About 50 million students are expected to attend public elementary and secondary schools this fall. That’s up just slightly from the 2015-16 school year, according to the Education Department. They’ll be taught by some 3.1 million school teachers from pre-kindergarten through high school, with an average student-to-teacher ratio of about 16 students to each teacher. Around 249,000 teachers are new hires this school year.
The growth of charter schools is continuing, with enrollment increasing from 800,000 in 2003 to 2.5 million in 2013, according to government figures. Some 40 states and the District of Columbia reported having about 6,400 charter schools.
The U.S. spends about $11,670 per pupil, on average, on public school education.
About 4.8 million students are expected to attend private school this fall, down slightly from the previous school year.
The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 3.5 million students, both public and private, will graduate from high school at the end of the school year.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

Ohio Must Rethink How Online Charter Schools Are Funded Says State’s Auditor

Ohio’s state auditor is calling for a change in the way the state funds online charter schools, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
At a statewide charter school summit, Dave Yost, a Republican, said that virtual schools should be compensated based on what their students learn—such as the courses they complete—rather than whether they simply log into school.
The current law is not clear on this issue, he said.
Full-time online charter schools nationally have been pummeled by a series of critical reports recently, starting with a study released by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes last October, which found that virtual charter school students, on average, made dramatically less progress academically than their peers in traditional district schools.
Those results were echoed in another study put out last week that focused on Ohio and was commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning think tank that supports school choice.
Yost’s proposal was applauded by the National Alliance for Public Charter schools, an influential national charter advocacy group.
To read the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

Virtual Schools Must Follow Special Education Rules, Ed. Department Says

Virtual and online schools that are operated by states and districts fall under the same mandates as brick-and-mortar schools when it comes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, says new guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. 
The “Dear Colleague Letter” issued August 11 offers several points that states and districts must adhere to for their virtual schools. Among them:
  • States are responsible for ensuring that virtual schools implement the requirements of IDEA;
  • States have to make sure that virtual school students with disabilities are included in state testing and are offered appropriate accommodations or alternate assessments when necessary;
  • States and districts are responsible for identifying and evaluating virtual school students, a process known under the IDEA as “child find”;
  • The rights and protections to students and their families under the IDEA “must not be diminished or compromised” if those students attend virtual schools. 
To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Should Teenagers Start High School Later in the Morning? More Districts Consider It.

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Should high school students get to sleep in and start school later? That’s the question two big school districts in Colorado are discussing.
Boulder and Cherry Creek, two of the state’s largest school districts, are considering moving high school start times later in 2017-18, according to Chalkbeat. High schools in Boulder currently start between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., but would begin instead between 8:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. Cherry Creek schools start between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., but officials there haven’t yet set a new target start time. 
The two Colorado districts are just the latest in a long string of districts that have tossed around this question. Another big district, Montgomery County, Md., moved its high school start time 20 minutes later. Seattle is letting its teenagers sleep a bit later, moving its start times for middle and high school to 8:45 a.m. this fall. Durham, N.C., shifted its first-bell time to 9 a.m. Denver’s been tossing the idea around for nearly two years and it still hasn’t gone anywhere, Chalkbeat reports.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

Opportunities

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.

NC Creating Plan to Meet New Federal Education Requirements

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:

RFP for Principal Preparation Programs

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The North Carolina Alliance for School Leadership Development (NCASLD) is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for principal preparation programs (PPP) as authorized by the State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) in NC Session Law 2015-241, Section 11.9 and supplemented by House Bill 1030, ratified on July 1, 2016.
In 2015 the North Carolina General Assembly established a competitive grant program to “elevate educators in North Carolina public schools by transforming the preparation of principals across the State.” The goal of the program is to provide funds for the preparation and support of highly effective school principals in North Carolina. 
The North Carolina General Assembly has allocated $4,500,000 per fiscal year to award grants to selected recipients, designated as PPP Providers in the RFP. This is the second RFP issued under this allocation. Funds are committed for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Funding for future years will be contingent upon continued appropriations from the North Carolina General Assembly. Final authority for making awards rests with SEAA.
NCASLD estimates that it will recommend to the SEAA 3-5 grant recipients, each receiving $750,000 to $1,000,000 per year for 2 years (contingent upon the continued availability of funds.)
RFP applications can be found at http://www.ncasld.org/principalpreparation.html. Proposals are due to the NCASLD office by 5:00 PM on August 26, 2016. Additional information can be obtained on the NCASLD website.

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.

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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