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The Friday Report

December 1, 2017

Forum News

Will North Carolina Schools See a Fix in January for the Class Size Crisis?

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Photo Credit: Pixabay, Pexels.

By Lindsay Wagner

North Carolina school districts counting on a January legislative fix to the class size mandate that’s having a big impact on schools and families may need a plan B.

House lawmakers say they are keenly interested in legislative action next month that would either delay implementation of a new law requiring districts to reduce class sizes in grades K-3 and/or provide additional funds to districts so that complying with the mandate doesn’t result in harm to other areas of instruction.

But the Senate may not share the House’s view.

“Myself included, there are members of the House that very much want to take this issue up,” said House education committee chair Representative Craig Horn (R-Union). “But in order to do this successfully, we need to have some agreement with the Senate to at least address the issue.”

In an email and in-person conversations with his constituents earlier this month, Senator John Alexander (R-Wake) said the class size issue would not come up for debate at all during the legislature’s January special session.

Responding to a constituent who met with him in person and then emailed him to explain how the law was impacting other districts’ ability to continue offering Pre-K, Sen. Alexander wrote, “As we will not be starting our short session until May, 2018, nothing can be done legislatively until then.”

Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), also a member of the House education committee, said he too is hearing Senators won’t discuss the issue any further next month—and he can’t figure out why they will not.

“I don’t have a read on why the Senate won’t even discuss it. I am unable to see into their psyche,” said Rep. Blackwell.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Wagner, L. “Will North Carolina’s schools see a fix this coming January to the class size crisis?” Public School Forum of North Carolina. 12/1/17.

Education Matters: The New NC Teaching Fellows Program

The original NC Teaching Fellows Program was eliminated by the General Assembly in 2011. This year legislators created a new version of the forgivable loan program targeting STEM and special education teachers. We talk with Deans from two of the Schools of Education recently selected for the inaugural class of new Teaching Fellows. We also chat with two leading education reporters about what’s been making headlines in education across the state.

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Guests Include:

  • Dr. Mary Ann Danowitz, Dean, NC State College of Education (pictured above, first)
  • Dr. Ann Bullock, Dean, Elon University School of Education (pictured above, second)
  • Kelly Hinchcliffe, Education Reporter, WRAL News (pictured below, first)
  • Lisa Philip, Education Reporter, WUNC Radio (pictured below, second)

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When and Where to Watch Education Matters

Saturday at 7:30 PM,

WRAL-TV (Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville)

Sunday at 8:00 AM,

FOX 50

(Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville)

Sunday at 6:30 AM and Wednesday 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  listing and other providers here.

Online at https://www.ncforum.org/

Education Matters Podcast Now Available

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Our weekly television show Education Matters is now available as a podcast featuring an audio version of each week’s complete show. Every episode is now on iTunesSoundCloudStitcherPodBean, Overcast and Google Play Music. Subscribe now, catch up on shows you may have missed and get all new episodes delivered directly to you via your favorite streaming platform.

Public School Forum Programs

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Nominate a Leader for Children in Your Community

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Do you know a leader in your community supporting our schools and making a difference in the lives of children both in and out of school? The Public School Forum is seeking nominations for individuals to be highlighted on our weekly statewide TV show, Education Matters. Click here for an example of a recent spotlight.

Nominees could be principals, superintendents, teachers, teacher assistants, guidance counselors, parents, students, business leaders, community volunteers, afterschool providers, and the list goes on!

To nominate someone, please fill out the form here.

State News

Public School Forum Program Aims to Alleviate Child Trauma

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 Photo Credit: Kyo Azuma, Unsplash.

Two Edgecombe County Public Schools are now participating in a pilot program designed to help school teachers and staff become more sensitive to the traumas many children face.

Teachers at Patillo Middle School and Stocks Elementary School are working with the NC Resilience and Learning Project, which is an initiative of the Public School Forum of NC. The NC Resilience and Learning Project works primarily with high poverty schools where trauma is more prevalent.

“We are piloting this program at three schools in North Carolina this year and two of them are in Edgecombe County,” said Elizabeth DeKonty, director of the NC Resilience and Learning Project. “We chose Edgecombe County because they were the most interested and engaged with this work.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Harper, A. “Program aims to alleviate child trauma.” Rocky Mount Telegram. 11/29/17.

New Study: Quality Pre-K Boosts High School Graduation Rates

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A new study shows that kids who participate in high-quality pre-kindergarten are 11 percent more likely to graduate from high school. Photo Credit: Jess Clark, WUNC. 

A recent analysis of five decades of data shows that high-quality early childhood education has lasting benefits for kids. Yet in North Carolina, less than one out of two young children participates in a qualifying program.

The study was published in the journal Educational Researcher. It showed that kids who attended a high-quality preschool program were 11 percent more likely to graduate high school. They were also 8 percent less likely to be held back or placed in special education.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Philip, L. “New Study: Quality Pre-K Boosts High School Graduation Rates.” WUNC.11/23/17.

Parents Used to Fight Year-Round Schools; Now Some Are Lobbying to Keep Them

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Brannon Balsley, left, helps his son Austin Balsley, 7, with his homework after school at their home in Holly Springs on Nov. 15, 2017. He and other Holly Grove parents are lobbying Wake to open Buckhorn Creek as a year-round school. Photo Credit: Chris Seward, The News & Observer.

Wake County families fought against year-round schools a decade ago, but some parents are now battling to keep their children on a non-traditional calendar as the school system shifts away from the year-round option.

The debate is now focused on Holly Springs, but the outcome in this suburban town could affect families throughout Wake as the school board decides which calendar to use at specific schools.

Wake’s new student assignment proposal would move hundreds of Holly Springs students from year-round schools into a traditional-calendar school opening next year. Some parents are lobbying for the new school, Buckhorn Creek Elementary, to open on a year-round calendar, but school leaders say it’s too late to make the change.

.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, K. “Parents used to fight year-round schools. Now some are lobbying to keep them.” The News & Observer.11/29/17.

Wake County Public School System Superintendent Announces Retirement

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Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill is asking parents to monitor what their children post on social media following online threats made against two high schools at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Photo Credit: Robert Willett, The News & Observer.

Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill announced Tuesday night (November 21st)  that he’s retiring after nearly five years as the leader of North Carolina’s largest school district.

Merrill, 67, said he’s resigning Feb. 1 so he can begin his retirement. Merrill started as superintendent in 2013, going on to win the state superintendent of the year in 2016 and being named a finalist for national superintendent of the year.

Why Durham Public Schools’ New Leader Won’t Try to Win Back Students Right Away

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Pascal Mubenga is sworn in as the new superintendent of Durham Public Schools in by District Court Judge Shamieka L. Rhinehart on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, in Durham, NC. Photo Credit: Casey Toth, The Herald Sun.

When Pascal Mubenga became the superintendent of Franklin County Schools, he sent a letter to all the families who had taken their children out of the school system, presumably for charter and private schools.

Mubenga, who was sworn in Monday as Durham Public Schools superintendent, said that was “a big mistake.” Several parents responded by asking him why they should return to the Franklin County school district when some of its schools still had performance grades of “D” and “F.”

He expects the same would happen here.

“I think they [would] have some valid points, and I think my priority [in Durham] is going to be to work with my staff to fix some of our schools,” he said. “ Once we get to that point, I think they’re going to be some students who come back to our schools knowing that we have a lot we can offer that charter schools cannot offer.” But first, Mubenga said he and DPS leaders and staff must put in the work to improve the schools.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Childress,  G. “Why Durham Public Schools’ new leader won’t try to win back students right away.” The Herald Sun. 11/27/17.

National News

The Transformative Power of Trauma-Informed Teaching

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Photo Credit: Allison Shelley, The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.

Trauma doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to children of all ethnicities, backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels. At the heart of trauma-informed care is sensitivity to students’ past and current adverse experiences and a deeper understanding of why they may be acting out. Instead of negatively reinforcing students’ external behavior through punishment, educators can support students through providing methods of self-regulation, emotional coping skills, and asking questions like “How can I help you?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Dotson, L. “The Transformative Power of Trauma-Informed Teaching.” Education Week. 11/21/17.

A Punishing Decade for School Funding

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Photo Credit: JJ Thompson, Unsplash.

Public investment in K-12 schools — crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity — has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade. Worse, some of the deepest-cutting states have also cut income tax rates, weakening their main revenue source for supporting schools.

Most states cut school funding after the recession hit, and it took years for states to restore their funding to pre-recession levels. In 2015, the latest year for which comprehensive spending data are available from the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 states were still providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Leachman, M. Masterson, K. Figueroa, E. “A Punishing Decade for School Funding.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 11/29/17.

Opportunities

Grow Your Career Skills with the Kenan Fellows Program

 

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The 2018-19 Fellowship application period opens today, December 1, 2017. The Fellowship begins with a summer internship in a higher education lab or industry setting and is supported by 80 hours of professional development that focuses on building leadership capacity and proven instructional strategies.

Each Fellow is awarded at least a $5,000 stipend, and must develop and implement relevant educational materials and/or programs based on their internship experience. To apply click here.

Biogen Foundation Spark Video Contest

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The Biogen Foundation is inviting middle and high school students in Massachusetts and North Carolina to create 30-second to 3-minute videos on the topic of genetic mutations. Please make sure the video is accurate and creative. Work with a teacher at your school to submit your video soon, because the first 200 eligible videos submitted will win $500 for your school (up to two submissions per school)! Grand Prize winners will receive $10,000 for their schools and three GoPro video cameras for the students who created and starred in the winning videos!

Submissions are open until December 8th. ALL NC schools are eligible to enter. Teachers MUST be the ones to submit the videos; students and parents are not allowed to submit videos. See spark.biogenfoundation.com for more information about the contest and to submit your video today!

Questions? Contact the Biogen Foundation here.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Application Open for Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) Award

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The Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics or PRISM Award provides NC public school teachers the opportunity to receive up to $3000 in funding towards the purchase of STEM-related materials and up to $1500 for any necessary training for those materials.

The award was created in 2012 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support teachers in their efforts to provide quality hands-on, inquiry-based activities for their students.

“The PRISM Award enables teachers to provide new and inventive ways of teaching STEM in their classrooms,” said Dr. John Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. “For a relatively modest investment students all over North Carolina can benefit from the wealth of material that may not otherwise be available to them.”

The Fund has provided 238 awards to 77 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts for a total of $750,000. One teacher, Matthew Kinnaird in Buncombe County, used the PRISM Award to build a radio telescope with his class to gather information for NASA.

Teachers may apply at https://www.bwfund.org/grant-programs/science-education/promoting-innovation-science-and-mathematicsThe deadline to apply is December 5, 2017.

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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