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The Friday Report

February 16, 2018

Forum News

Latest Class Size Legislation Includes Provision That Expands Eligibility for Personal Education Savings Accounts (PESAs)

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Included in the bill passed this week by the General Assembly to fund and extend the timeline for class size reductions was a barely mentioned provision that will expand eligibility for the state’s new Personal Education Savings Accounts (PESAs) program. The bill was sent to the Governor on Tuesday and he announced on Wednesday that he intends to let the bill become law without his signature.

PESAs, which were enacted by the legislature last year and become available beginning this fall, will allow families with eligible children with disabilities to use up to $9,000 in public funds loaded onto debit cards for tuition at private and home schools and other eligible education expenses.

House Bill 90 expands eligibility for PESAs such that more children will be able to qualify once the bill becomes law. Currently, the law requires students to meet one of seven requirements for eligibility, among which includes having previously attended public school – unless you are entering kindergarten or the first grade. Having attended a public school will no longer be a requirement to qualify for a PESA – which means that current private or home school students with special needs could opt into receiving these public dollars.

HB 90 includes an additional provision that allows students with disabilities who attend public school on a part time basis to also qualify for PESAs, but for half the award amount of up to $4,500 annually.

Additionally, the bill continues to allow families that qualify for PESAs to take advantage of two other state-funded voucher programs as well – the Disabilities Grant program, which is worth up to $8,000 annually, as well as the Opportunity Scholarships Program, worth $4,200 annually. Combined, families with an eligible disabled child may receive up to $21,200 each year in public funds for use at private schools and related expenses.

Education Matters

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Education Matters is pre-empted this weekend from our usual Sat. 7:30 PM slot on WRAL-TV due to Winter Olympics coverage. Encore episodes of the show will air during our usual time slots on FOX 50 – Sunday at 8:00 AM and statewide on UNC-TV’s NC Channel (TWC/Spectrum Ch. 1277) – Sunday at 6:30 am and Wednesday at 9:30 am. Shows can also be viewed online anytime at https://www.ncforum.org/.

State News

NC Governor Says He Won’t Veto Class-Size Fix

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 Gov. Roy Cooper said he would not veto a bill that would give North Carolina elementary schools more time to reduce class sizes but includes other legislative changes he opposes during a press conference at the Executive Mansion Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Photo Credit: Ethan Hyman, The News & Observer.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday he would not veto a bill that would give North Carolina elementary schools more time to reduce class sizes but includes other legislative changes he opposes.

The bill would phase in class-size changes in kindergarten through third grade over the next four years instead of putting them into effect this fall. The bill would also increase funding for pre-kindergarten to eliminate the state’s waiting list for the program over the next four years.

But House Bill 90 also includes unrelated provisions that would change the composition of the State Board of Elections and would take away Cooper’s control of a $58 million fund tied to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Cooper, a Democrat, has accused Republican lawmakers of “political shenanigans” and “partisan hypocrisy” for not having a standalone bill on the class-size issue.

Cooper said he would allow the bill to become law without his signature because of the need to provide the class-size fix and to expand funding for pre-K. He called the rest of the bill “political attacks and power grabs.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Hui, K. “NC governor says he won’t veto class-size fix .” The News & Observer. 2/14/18.

In This Issue

Latest Class Size Legislation Includes Provision That Expands Eligibility for Personal Education Savings Accounts (PESAs)

Education Matters

NC Governor Says He Won’t Veto Class-Size Fix

NC Lawmakers Will Consider Dividing School Districts, Including Wake County

NC Republican Wants to Arm Teachers in Response to Florida Shooting

Schools Are Fighting to End Bias in Identifying Gifted Students. But Is it Working?

UNC Should Rethink How It Teaches Future Teachers, Study Says

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Place Focus on Personalized Learning

Why One Elusive Word Matters So Much to the CMS Board, Taxpayers and 147,000 Students

No Easy Fix to School Funding

Inside the Virtual Schools Lobby: ‘I Trust Parents’

Trump Seeks to Cut Education Budget By 5 Percent, Expand School Choice Push

Synergy Conference 2018: Registration Now Open

TeacherSquared’s Teacher Educator Institute

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for

Student STEM Enrichment Program

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.

NC Lawmakers Will Consider Dividing School Districts, Including Wake County

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Brier Creek Elementary School students fill the hallways of the overcrowded school on March 11, 2015. A state legislative study committee will begin looking at the best ways to break up North Carolina school districts.

Photo Credit: Staff, The News & Observer file photo.

State lawmakers will begin studying next week how to break up North Carolina school districts, potentially paving the way for splitting large school systems like Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

A newly formed joint legislative study committee is charged with reporting back by May 1 on whether to recommend passing legislation to let previously merged school districts be divided. The committee, whose first meeting is Feb. 21, would also look at the best ways to break up school districts, including whether to require a referendum by voters.

The bill creating the committee passed in June largely along partisan lines with most Republicans backing the legislation and most Democrats opposed. Supporters said the state should look at what’s the most effective size for school districts while opponents said it could lead to resegregation of schools.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, K. “NC lawmakers will consider dividing school districts, including Wake County.” The News & Observer. 2/13/18.

NC Republican Wants to Arm Teachers in Response to Florida Shooting

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Photo Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald Staff.

A North Carolina lawmaker says letting teachers bring guns to school would help save lives in situations like the school shooting that occurred in Florida on Wednesday – and a legislative committee wants to hear more about the idea.

A 19-year-old is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following a shooting rampage with an AR-15 rifle that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

On Thursday morning, Republican state Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County near Charlotte told other lawmakers that he recently met with a police officer who wants to talk with lawmakers about training school personnel and allowing them to carry guns on campus.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Campbell, C. and Specht, P. “NC Republican wants to arm teachers in response to Florida shooting.” The News & Observer. 2/15/18.

Schools Are Fighting to End Bias in Identifying Gifted Students. But Is it Working?

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Photo Credit: Travis Long, The News & Observer.

What makes an academically or intellectually gifted student?

When you ask teachers, the traits they cite can sometimes block a lot of bright students from inclusion in academically and intellectually gifted programs, says one Durham educator.

“They’re looking for the very quiet child who’s organized, who always turns in their assignments and who makes perfect grades,” said Laura Parrott, advanced academics coordinator for the Durham Public Schools.

Parrott said DPS is working to change that kind of thinking to increase opportunities for students — blacks and Hispanics in particular — to be included in the district’s Advanced and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) Program.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Childress, G. “Schools are fighting to end bias in identifying gifted students. But is it working?​” The Herald Sun. 2/12/18.

UNC Should Rethink How It Teaches Future Teachers, Study Says

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Charlotte Roberts, a graduate teaching assistant for N.C. State’s College of Education, leads a class discussion in October 2017 on how to keep students’ minds from wandering. Photo Credit: Autumn Linford, The News & Observer.

When students in the UNC system’s teacher training programs were asked what they would do for a child struggling to read, few could cite specific strategies, according to consultants who reviewed public university education programs.

That finding, and others, are highlighted in a report out this week that identifies gaps in the 14 UNC teacher training programs that prepare undergraduates to be teachers. The study also recommends changes to beef up student teachers’ classroom experiences, familiarity with state standards and ability to use research-backed methods to teach reading.

Thirty-seven percent of teachers in the state’s public schools are graduates of the UNC system, and they generally have better evaluations and higher pupil achievement than teachers who come from elsewhere. Still, the report found deficiencies.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Stancill, J. “UNC should rethink how it teaches future teachers, study says.” The News & Observer. 2/14/18.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Place Focus on Personalized Learning

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Meadowlark Elementary teacher Laurie Hartley (right) helps her first-grade student Sinchana Upadbya figure out a math problem in class. Photo Credit: David Rolfe, Winston-Salem Journal.

During math class one Friday morning, Laurie Hartley’s first-grade students move around the room from one work station to another, working alone or in pairs, learning content from basic geometry to telling time.

The math tubs, bins Hartley has filled with different mathematics lessons and activities, are part of her personalized learning approach, a practice that focuses on the individual needs of students.

Students in Hartley’s class at Meadowlark Elementary School are able to do work at their own pace, and in ways that best fits their personal strengths that still teaches to the standards.

Why One Elusive Word Matters So Much to the CMS Board, Taxpayers and 147,000 Students

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CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox talks about equity with board members Ruby Jones, Ericka Ellis-Stewart and Sean Strain (left-right) at the school board retreat Saturday. Photo Credit: Ann Doss Helms, The Charlotte Observer.

Does a brilliant teen at Harding High have the same shot at a top college as a counterpart at Providence?  Is a 7-year-old boy more likely to be labeled a troublemaker if he’s black?  Are good teachers fleeing Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s neediest schools, and can the district find a way to keep them there?

Those questions are all part of the challenge of equity, which was the focus of Saturday’s school board retreat. Board members and a series of superintendents have struggled for years to define the term, report the most meaningful data and ensure that all students have their best shot at success.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Doss Helms, A. “Why one elusive word matters so much to the CMS board, taxpayers and 147,000 students.” The Charlotte Observer. 2/11/18.

No Easy Fix to School Funding

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Photo Credit: Skitterphoto, Pexels.

With funding for public schools in Robeson County at rock bottom among North Carolina counties, local leaders are in agreement that our children deserve better.

A diverse group of leaders laid out their ideas in interviews last week.

A report from the North Carolina Public School Forum found Robeson County at 99th of 100 counties for local funding and 99th for school funding, even after the state chipped in $17 million of “low-wealth funding.” The result is old schools and student performance that ranks among the worst in the state, with 27 out of 42 schools labeled low-performing.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Bigelow, S. “No easy fix to school funding.” The Robesonian. 2/10/18.

National News

Inside the Virtual Schools Lobby: ‘I Trust Parents’

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Image Credit: LA Johnson, NPR.

A free day at the aquarium! For Marcey Morse, a mother of two, it sounded pretty good. It was the fall of 2016, and Morse had received an email offering tickets, along with a warning about her children’s education.

At that time, Morse’s two kids were enrolled in an online, or “virtual,” school called the Georgia Cyber Academy, run by a company called K12 Inc. About 275,000 students around the country attend these online public charter schools, run by for-profit companies, at taxpayers’ expense.

The aquarium wouldn’t be something they could ordinarily afford. So Morse, her husband, a friend and their children took the day off and drove downtown to an Atlanta hotel for what was billed as a “day of fun at the aquarium and learning how to best protect our kids and their educational options.”

But what happened, she says, was very different. “They were trying to usher us, step by step, in kind of a sneaky way, into a protest,” she says. “It was a trick. A basic, classic hustle.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Kamenetz, A. “Inside The Virtual Schools Lobby: ‘I Trust Parents.'”NPR Ed. 2/13/18.

Trump Seeks to Cut Education Budget By 5 Percent, Expand School Choice Push

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Photo Credit: Education Week.

President Donald Trump is seeking a roughly 5 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Education’s budget for fiscal 2019 in a proposal that also mirrors his spending plan from last year by seeking to eliminate a major teacher-focused grant and to expand school choice.

Trump’s proposed budget, released Monday, would provide the Education Department with $63.2 billion in discretionary aid, a $3.6 billion cut—or 5.3 percent— from current spending levels, for the budget year starting Oct. 1. That’s actually less of a cut than what the president sought for fiscal 2018, when he proposed slashing $9.2 billion—or 13.5 percent—from the department.

In order to achieve those proposed spending cuts, the president copied two major education cuts he proposed last year: the elimination of Title II teacher grants and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Those two cuts combined would come to about $3.1 billion from current levels. Overall, 39 discretionary programs would be cut, eliminated, or “streamlined.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Ujifusa, A. “Trump Seeks to Cut Education Budget by 5 Percent, Expand School Choice Push.” Education Week. 2/12/18.

Opportunities

Synergy Conference 2018: Registration Now Open

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Building Tomorrow’s Workforce Today Through Expanded Learning
When: April 25 – 27, 2018

Where: The Greenville Convention Center in Greenville, NC

Each year, the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP) holds a conference to convene community, state, and national stakeholders in the afterschool and expanded learning environment. The Synergy Conference convenes hundreds of out-of-school time providers to share insight on research-based practices, effective programs, and public policies that impact students and their overall success in school and life.

Registration is now open for the annual Synergy Conference! You can register here at the rate of $225.

The Synergy Conference has a hotel block at the Hilton Greenville at the discounted rate of $139/night, which includes breakfast. You can make hotel reservations hereHotel reservations must be made by March 26th to get the discounted rate. Please make your hotel reservations as soon as possible as space is limited.

For more information please visit https://ncafterschool.org/synergyconference2018/

TeacherSquared’s Teacher Educator Institute

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TeacherSquared will be hosting its third Teacher Educator Institute in New Orleans from May 7-9. Join teacher educators, the teachers of teachers, from across the country for this Institute focused on Using Data to Improve Novice Teacher Practice. This institute is for new or experienced teacher educators interested in collaborating with other teacher educators to deepen their ability to use data to help the novice teachers they train get better. This Institute will be a uniquely valuable professional development experience for teacher educators in a range of roles: from clinical professors and deans to coaches and directors, in both traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs.

Click here for more details and to register today! Take advantage of early bird pricing (through 3/9) with the discount code “FRIEND2018” for $200 off.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for 

Student STEM Enrichment Program

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The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has opened its application for the 2018 Student STEM Enrichment Program (SSEP) grant awards. SSEP supports diverse programs with a common goal: to enable primary and secondary students to participate in creative, hands-on STEM activities for K-12 students and pursue inquiry-based exploration in BWF’s home state of North Carolina. These awards provide up to $60,000 per year for three years. The application deadline is April 18, 2018.

For more information or to access the application, visit http://www.bwfund.org/grant-programs/science-education/student-science-enrichment-program.

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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