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The Friday Report

August 4, 2017

Forum News

This Week on Education Matters:

A New Direction for Leandro Case

This week’s show looks at the now 20-year old landmark Leandro case on education quality and equity in North Carolina’s public schools which just took a surprising new turn. We talk with Melanie Black Dubis, lead counsel for the plaintiff school districts. For background information on the Leandro case, view the Forum’s 2005 Study Group XI Report: Responding to the Leandro Ruling.

We also meet Dr. Nicole Hurd, Founder and CEO of the College Advising Corps, a nationally recognized organization based in Chapel Hill helping make college more accessible for thousands of students across the U.S. 

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Guests include:

  • Melanie Black Dubis, Attorney, Parker Poe (pictured above)
  • Dr. Nicole Hurd, Founder and CEO, College Advising Corps (pictured below)

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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 Wednesdays at 9:30 AM, UNC-TV’s North Carolina Channel (Statewide)

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

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

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The General Assembly returned for Session on Thursday, August 3, took action on roughly a dozen bills, and then after a long day of negotiations adjourned again until Friday, August 18, at noon under House Joint Resolution 926. In these next two weeks, the legislature will be doubling-down on its redistricting efforts during weekly committee meetings with a plan to vote on the redistricting before the end of the month. Nonetheless, the bills involving public education with action this week are as follows:

HB 770 Various Clarifying Changes (formerly “Amend Environmental Laws 3”)
This legislation passed both Houses on Thursday. After gutting an unrelated environmental bill and with no public committee discussion, the House virtually transformed this bill on the House floor with no debate, followed by the Senate. Among many unrelated provisions, the education component modifies the A-F School Performance Grades, including a clause to further ensure compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

SB 560 (Session Law 2017-200) Clarify Cleveland Board of Education Election
The General Assembly passed this bill on Thursday which only involves the Cleveland County Board of Education. As a local bill, it has already become law because such bills do not require the Governor’s signature. This law confirms that such elections will be partisan beginning with the 2017 election and further permits any eligible unaffiliated candidate to run in 2017 after submitting a petition with 500 registered voters’ signatures.

SB 628 Various Changes to the Revenue Laws
This bill also passed both chambers on Thursday. Of the many tax law changes, it grants a tax exemption for mobile units used as public school property exclusively for educational purposes.

SB 689 (Session Law 2017-201) Appointments Bill Modifications
Both the House and Senate approved this bill on Thursday, and it is now law. Of those K-12 education-related appointments, there are new appointees to the following: 1) the recently created Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission under SB 599; and 2) the newly re-created NC Teaching Fellows Commission. This law changes the dates of terms for certain new Charter School Advisory Board appointees.

Furthermore, outside of the above-referenced flurry of Thursday activity and to round out all action (or inaction) on bills from last week, this education legislation has also become law:

SB 55 (Session Law 2017-188) School Bus Cameras/Civil Penalties
Governor Cooper signed this bill into law; therefore, local school boards and county authorities are now authorized to use automated school bus safety cameras to affirmatively establish evidence of violators of the law against passing a stopped school bus. The law authorizes the creation of new local ordinances and fines for violating this important school bus safety law.

HB 704 (Session Law 2017-198) Divide School Systems/Study Committee
This bill became law without the Governor’s signature as his 30 days to take action expired last weekend. This law establishes a Joint Legislative Study Committee on the division of school systems. The Public School Forum of NC covered this bill (now law) in last week’s episode of Education Matters.

HB 528 (Session Law 2017-197) Budget Technical Corrections
Significantly, this law includes the “intent to fund” language for special subject teachers (Music, Art, Physical Education, World Languages, etc.) on page 2 as follows:

“PROGRAM ENHANCEMENT TEACHER FUNDS”

“SECTION 7.14. It is the intent of the General Assembly to use the data collected in accordance with the reporting requirements set forth in Section 2 of S.L. 2017-9 [HB 13] to fund a new allotment for program enhancement teachers for local school administrative units beginning with the 2018-2019 fiscal year.”

Forum Opportunities

Beginning Teacher Leadership Network Accepting Applications

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The Public School Forum’s Beginning Teacher Leadership Network (BTLN) is currently recruiting teachers in Cabarrus, Carteret, Mecklenburg, Onslow, Union, and Wake counties for the 2017-18 cohort. Applications are open through September 8, 2017.

North Carolina traditional and charter public school teachers in their first three years of experience are eligible to participate. Participants may remain in the network for three years, regardless of when they enter the program. The core program will consist of monthly sessions, one during each traditional teaching month, during after-school hours. Forums will consist of education policy briefings, teacher collaboration sessions, and interactive professional development.

By bringing together educational practice and policy, BTLN hopes to produce and retain teachers that are “empowered to lead and informed to change” in a new era of teaching. BTLN provides unparalleled access to information and key decision makers in education, while simultaneously giving beginning teachers high-level professional development.

To apply for the 2017-18 Beginning Teacher Leadership Network, click here.

In This Issue

Public School Forum Programs

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Nominate an Outstanding Education Leader!

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The Public School Forum is seeking nominations for education leaders to be profiled on our weekly TV show, Education Matters.
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.
This includes (but is not limited to) principals, superintendents, teachers, teacher assistants, guidance counselors, parents, students, community volunteers, afterschool providers, and the list goes on!
To nominate an education leader, please fill out the form here.

Public School Forum Seeks Interns for Fall 2017

The Public School Forum is seeking applications for Education Policy & Programs interns for the Fall 2017 semester.

Position description and application details can be found here. Interested candidates should send a resume and cover letter to Lauren Bock at lbock@ncforum.org.

State News

Vouchers Allow Low-Income Families to Attend Private School, But Cost is Still a Challenge

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Teachers usher elementary students down the hall as they head for home at the end of the school day at Raleigh Christian Academy on August 21, 2014. In the 2016-17 school year, 90 students used taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend Raleigh Christian. Photo Credit: Chris Seward, News & Observer.

North Carolina families using taxpayer money to attend private schools are enjoying the educational opportunity but struggle to cover all the new financial costs, according to new studies by N.C. State University.

Since 2014, thousands of low-income families have received up to $4,200 per child to help cover the costs to attend private schools. Financial concerns were raised by parents and leaders of private schools in a pair of new reports released last week by N.C. State researchers.

“For some families at the lower end of the spectrum, it really was too much when they had to take into account the food and transportation costs,” said Anna Egalite, an N.C. State assistant professor of education and lead author of both studies.

State lawmakers created the Opportunity Scholarship program in 2013 to give families more options to meet their children’s educational needs. Critics called the vouchers an attack on public education and sued to block the program, but in 2015 the N.C. Supreme Court ruled the program constitutional.

Vouchers are slated to be used by 8,226 students for the upcoming school year. State lawmakers included $44.8 million for the program in this year’s budget, with funding set to increase to $144.8 million a year by 2027.

The voucher program helped reverse years of declining enrollment in the state’s private schools. Last school year, 100,585 students attended private schools. Religious schools make up the majority of schools that get funding.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, T. “Vouchers allow low-income families to attend private schools, but cost is still a challenge.” The News & Observer. 8/2/17.

North Carolina is Testing Out Different Ways of Paying Teachers

North Carolina has long paid its teachers based on their years of experience, but Chapel Hill-Carrboro and five other school systems could point the way to changing that model.

The State Board of Education on Thursday approved a plan to provide up to $10.2 million over the next three years to six school systems to test their alternative models for paying teachers. The districts are planning to use different options, such as paying teachers more based on whether they take advanced leadership positions or have good student test results.

Lawmakers who ordered the state board to establish the pilot program are looking to see whether the district models can be applied statewide.

“This is an opportunity for teachers to advance in their career while still working with students in the classroom,” said Bryan Hassel, co-director of Public Impact, a Chapel Hill-based education firm that is working with two of the districts in the pilot program.

Mark Jewell, president of the N.C. Association of Educators, said the group welcomes developing a system that provides teachers more opportunities to earn higher pay. But he questioned the state funding a pilot program at a time when he said teacher salaries are still too low and taxpayer money is being spent on programs such as vouchers to attend private schools. “I’m concerned this piecemeal approach to teacher compensation will make it more challenging to recruit teachers because it’s at least partially based on a pay-for-performance model,” he said.

The state has traditionally paid teachers based primarily on the number of years of education experience. Many school districts supplement that pay.

Some Republican lawmakers are critical of the state’s salary schedule for teachers. In a February speech, Senate leader Phil Berger called the pay scale “a ball and chain” because it takes teachers 30 years to reach the top of the pay scale.

As part of last year’s state budget, lawmakers directed the state board to create a pilot program that links “teacher performance and professional growth to salary increases.” A dozen districts submitted applications, with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Edgecombe, Pitt, Vance and Washington County school systems being chosen.

All the districts submitted proposals that would pay more money to teachers who take on advanced leadership roles. For instance, Edgecombe and Vance counties said they could supplement a teacher’s salary by up to 30 percent if the person teaches more students than normal or leads multiple teachers.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Hui, T. “North Carolina is testing out different ways of paying teachers.” The News & Observer. 8/3/17.

11 Things to Know About North Carolina’s School Nurses

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Did you know that, on average, North Carolina has one school nurse for every 1,086 public school students? That was one of the figures presented at the State Board of Education meeting Wednesday.

Ann Nichols, state school health nurse consultant with the N.C. Division of Public Health, gave an update to the board about how nurses are used in schools, what kinds of health issues they treat and how school systems track that information. Data she presented came from the 2015-16 school year, the most recent year available. Here are takeaways from Nichols’ presentation:

1) Although North Carolina has, on average, one school nurse for every 1,086 public school students, the ratios range from as low as 319 students to as high as 2,242 students.

2) The average nurse covers two to three schools, but some cover as many as six. Five school systems in the state have one nurse dedicated to every school.

3) North Carolina public school nurses had 2,220,622 student encounters during the 2015-16 school year.

4) More than 9 percent of the total student population received medication at school, and nurses helped 11,512 students with complex procedures, such as using an insulin pump, feeding tube or catheter.

5) Nurses provided 396,199 counseling sessions to students regarding health, mental health and emotional issues, including screening for suicide risk.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Read Nichols’ full presentation here.

Excerpt from:

Hinchcliffe, K. “11 things to know about North Carolina’s school nurses.” WRAL. 8/3/17.

Just What the Doctor Ordered: Encouragement for Parents to Read to Young Children

Stephon Grace, 5, sits in a medical exam room with a book on his lap and reads out loud. Standing next to him, Dr. Rachel Banks points to the book and asks him questions about what he sees. “It’s a dog,” Stephon answers. For the Grace family, reading is a part of their normal check-ups.

Through a partnership between two nonprofits – Reach Out and Read Carolinas, and Read Charlotte – more children could be reading books at the doctor’s office soon. “A lot of parents don’t know to read early,” said Callee Boulware, Reach Out and Read Carolinas executive director. Reach Out and Read is a national program with branches in every state, helping 4.5 million children each year.

Boulware said the goal is for this intervention to help every child within the first five years of their lives. Reach Out and Read currently works with 13 clinics in Charlotte, helping between 21,000 and 22,000 children. With Read Charlotte, a community initiative to improve literacy among kindergarten through third-graders, their goal is to expand the locations to 35, helping an additional 15,000 children.

Banks said she has been a part of the Reach Out and Read Carolinas program for more than 10 years, using its practices to improve literacy at Carolinas Medical Center NorthPark Family Medicine Office on Eastway Drive. She said from when children are 6 months old until 5 years old, each 20-minute appointment includes interacting with books, whether it is naming pictures or reading out loud.

To continue reading the complete article, click here

Duke Report: Despite Federal Law, Majority of North Carolina Districts Impeding Enrollment for Undocumented Children

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Despite federal laws that guarantee access to public education for undocumented children, the majority of school districts in North Carolina are impeding enrollment, a new report from the Children’s Law Clinic at Duke University finds.

According to the report, which was released Monday, about 60 percent of North Carolina districts “inhibit” enrollment in at least one way. Districts require unnecessary forms of identification, including the provision of social security numbers, or lack flexibility in how they determine proof of residency.

Such policies may stymie access for the state’s estimated 33,000 undocumented, immigrant children, the study finds.

“We hope that school districts will use this report to review their enrollment practices to ensure that they are compliant with the law and are welcoming to immigrant children,” Jane Wettach, director of the Children’s Law Clinic, said in a statement.

To continue reading the complete article, click here

NC Community College President Resigns

The president of the 58-campus North Carolina Community College System has resigned effective Sept. 30, the system announced Monday after a closed meeting. 

The move comes 13 months after James C. “Jimmie” Williamson became system president, moving here from South Carolina. No reason was given for his departure. Williamson himself is on vacation this week and next and unavailable for comment, system spokeswoman Chreatha Alston said Monday. He will return before the 30th, she said.

The State Board of Community Colleges, which met via conference call late Monday afternoon, spent about a half-hour in closed session before voting unanimously to make system Chief of Staff Jennifer Haygood acting president as of Oct. 1. The board accepted Williamson’s resignation, but no vote was taken in open session to do so, and Haygood said none was required. He will not receive a severance package, Alston said.

To continue reading the complete article, click here

Excerpt from:

Fain, T. “NC Community College System president resigns.” WRAL. 7/31/17.

NC Highlight

The Beast Mixes Music and Education

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Singer Pierce Freelon of The Beast. Photo Credit: Alex Granados, EducationNC.

The North Carolina Hip-hop/jazz infused band The Beast may look like a typical band if you caught them playing on the rooftop of the Durham Hotel last Sunday. They have the drums, the bass, the keyboard and the charismatic lead singer. But what you can’t see when you watch them jamming in the midst of an adoring crowd is their dedication to education.

The group, headed by frontman Pierce Freelon, started in 2007 as a typical band. But it gradually morphed into a group that takes its act into schools, providing musical accompaniment to an educational workshop that takes kids through music history.

Freelon was already doing workshops on the history of African-American music through his Blackademics Hip Hop curriculum when The Beast came together. He kept doing the workshops on the side for a couple of years after the band started, but one day he was asked to give a talk. He decided to bring the band along. They played the background music to what he described as a Ted-style talk, and after that education became a focus for the group as a whole.

“It really amplified the heft I think of the curriculum from a musical standpoint to be able to work with musicians who are so well versed in these genres,” he said. “I can just show you in real time what it is instead of listening to a prerecorded thing.”

“Our educational workshops have actually become a big part of the band’s mission,” said The Beast’s drummer Stephen Coffman.

To continue reading the complete article click here.

Excerpt from:

Granados, A. “The Beast mixes music and education.” EducationNC. 8/2/17.

National News

Without Legislative Action, Michigan Scraps A-F Grading System

During this past year, with the Every Student Succeeds Act set to go into motion this fall, several state legislatures pushed to rid their states of their letter-grade accountability systems. Now Michigan has decided to drop its A-F system, without any action from state lawmakers.

The state’s department of education told the Michigan Radio last week that since the legislature failed to create a statewide A-F report card, as they had previously said it would do, the department will this fall design a dashboard to present to the public several factors about a school’s performance. Under ESSA, states are still required to identify the worst-performing five percent of schools.

This year, several states, including Texas, Alabama and West Virginia, ended up scrapping or making dramatic change to their letter-grade accountability system. Many, like Michigan, opted to instead use a “dashboard approach” that displays several different factors to parents, but without giving schools a final, overall grade.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Burnette, D. “Without Legislative Action, Michigan Scraps A-F Grading System.” Education Week. 7/28/17.

How A Savings Program Could Be Used to Expand School Choice

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos listens at left as President Donald Trump speaks during a round table discussion at Saint Andrew Catholic School, Friday, March 3, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. Photo Credit: Alex Brandon, AP.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came to Washington promising a massive new federal investment in school choice. So far, they’re having trouble getting momentum—and money—for vouchers or a tax-credit scholarship.

But some school choice supporters may have another policy up their sleeves: allowing parents to save for private school the same way many of them save for college, through the use of so-called 529 plans.

These plans—named for a section of the federal tax code—are a tax-advantaged investment fund that works somewhat like an IRA or 401(k) retirement plan. Parents or guardians put a portion of their income in the fund and can receive a tax credit or deduction, depending on the specifics of the plan, which can vary state-by-state.

Right now, 529s are primarily for college expenses. But the Heritage Foundation, a favorite think tank for the Trump team and Republicans in Congress, would love to see the accounts expanded to K-12 schools.

Another, similar option: lifting the cap on an another type of savings account, so-called “Coverdell accounts,” which allow families to put money away for both K-12 and higher education expenses, again with tax advantages. Right now, the cap on the accounts is $2,000. Heritage would love to see it lifted.

The idea has at least one big champion: Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., has introduced a bill that would both raise the cap on Coverdells and extend 529s to K-12. Messer, whose former aide, Rob Goad, is now a top aide at the U.S. Department of Education, is running for Senate.

The 529 or Coverdell option has some big advantages for conservatives, said Lindsey Burke, the director of the Center for Education Policy at Heritage. For one thing, unlike a brand new federal tax credit scholarship, it wouldn’t create a new program, at least in her eyes. “It’s an existing program that’s in place, you’re not growing the size of federal intervention in K-12,” she said. “It’s just an individual saving their own money.”

A federal tax credit scholarship, on the other hand, would give a tax credit to corporations and individuals who donate to scholarship granting organizations. Burke worries this could lead to a lot of unnecessary federal intrusion, including unintended consequences for states that already have their own tax credit scholarships.

But opponents of other forms of school choice, including tax-credit scholarships, and vouchers, are also not fans of 529 plans. “It is diverting revenue when we’re in a position where we have a president and secretary of education who are looking to cut almost $9 billion” in federal funding for education, said Mary Kusler, the senior director for the National Education Association’s Center for Advocacy.

And she said the money may not actually help the neediest families, since parents would have to have extra income to set-aside in the first place in order to get the tax advantages 529s and Coverdells offer. “You’re providing a tax benefit for people who are likely already sending their children to private schools,” Kusler said.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Klein, A. “How a Savings Program Could Be Used to Expand School Choice.” Education Week. 8/2/17.

Opportunities

Women in Educational Leadership Symposium

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Registration is open for the second annual Women in Educational Leadership Symposium (WIELS). 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 symposium will be held September 22 through September 24, 2017 at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. This year’s conference theme is Advancing the Leader Within: Building Capacity.

Registration for the conference is online at https://wiels.appstate.edu/about-us/registration. Additional information can be found at https://wiels.appstate.edu/.

Friday Institute Offers Professional Learning on Personalized and Digital Learning

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Building upon the exciting work with leaders across the state, The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University, in partnership with NCDPI, invites educators across NC to join their colleagues in ongoing, job-embedded cohort-based programs in 2017-18. These programs are targeted for superintendents, district leaders, principals and assistant principals, coaches, media coordinators, Instructional Technology Facilitators (ITFs), and teacher leaders.

The programs include face-to-face sessions in regional locations and opportunities to learn and collaborate with peers. Data from 2016-17 participants in the programs show that they are excited about the quality and the relevance, and many share examples of how the programs have contributed to or accelerated changes in their districts and schools. The programs provide educators at all levels the opportunity to learn while also working directly on challenges and ideas for their own school(s) and district.

Apply now for this face-to-face and blended opportunity to learn and share with your colleagues from across the region and state. Program details, FAQs, applications and deadline information are available here.

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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