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The Friday Report

February 22, 2019

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Forum News

This Week on Education Matters: Inequity in School Funding

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A study released this week by the Public School Forum of NC shows a growing gap in public school funding between the highest and lowest-wealth counties in the state. These funding disparities have a real impact on education, including the ability of lower wealth counties to fund local supplemental pay to attract and retain teachers. We talk to the study’s lead, plus two NC school superintendents, about how funding affects educational opportunity in their communities.

Guests:

  • Lauren Fox, Senior Director of Policy, Public School Forum of NC (pictured below)
  • Dr. Tim Markley, Superintendent, New Hanover County Schools (pictured above, left)
  • Dr. Valerie Bridges, Superintendent, Edgecombe County Public Schools (pictured above, right)
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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 your local listings and other providers here.

Online at www.ncforum.org.

Education Matters is also available as a podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Overcast, and Google Play Music.

Annual Local School Finance Study Confirms Vast Funding Disparities Across North Carolina

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A study released this week by the Public School Forum of North Carolina once again illustrates a chronic and growing gap in public school funding between the highest and lowest-wealth counties in the state.

The 2019 Local School Finance Study found that the ten highest spending counties spent on average $3,200 per student compared to $755 by the ten lowest spending counties, with a gap of $2,445 per student. That gap is the largest since the Forum began tracking this figure in 1987.

These funding disparities have tangible impacts in North Carolina classrooms. Local salary supplements for teachers, for example, are generally greater in high-wealth and larger districts, better positioning them to attract and retain top talent. Rural districts, which already face challenges in recruiting and retaining highly skilled teachers, are at an even greater disadvantage if they are not able to offer competitive pay.

To continue reading the complete press release and download the report, click here.

To read more about the 2019 Local School Finance Study and the release event, see the following articles:

Study finds chronic, growing gap in NC school system funding ‘once again’ WRAL

Gap between rich and poor counties continues to grow EdNC

Spending gap widens between rich and poor school districts in North Carolina NC Policy Watch

Excerpt from:

“Annual Local School Finance Study Confirms Vast Funding Disparities Across North Carolina.” Public School Forum of NC. 2/19/19.

Meghan Sauer Joins NC Center for Afterschool Programs as STEM Coordinator

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Meghan Sauer views STEM education as the catalyst to develop children’s curiosity into exciting careers. As STEM Coordinator, Meg works with the NC CAP Director and key partners to design and coordinate programs to both demystify and ignite passion for science in all students. In addition to helping with the Synergy Conference, Meg develops curricula and resources for afterschool and summer programs to reach students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields – particularly girls and student of color.

Prior to joining the Public School Forum, Meg was a secondary science teacher who taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, Earth and Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Honors Human Anatomy, and Forensic Science. Meg is equally comfortable teaching outdoors as the former Naturalist for Eno River State Park and a veteran summer camp instructor for the Museum of Life and Science. Prior to education, Meg managed nonprofits and worked in natural resource management. Meg earned bachelor’s degrees in English and Geology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and holds a graduate certificate in Middle School Science from UNC-Chapel Hill. Meg is licensed as a NC Professional Educator for Secondary Science (6 – 12) and Middle School Social Studies (6-9). She was the 2016 North Carolina Conservation Educator of the Year.

State News

Senate Leader: If NC Private School Voucher Money Is Going Unspent, Loosen the Rules

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NC Senate Leader Phil Berger addressed the issue of state vouchers and the value the Opportunity Scholarship Program offers to low income families on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at The Male Leadership Academy. Photo Credit: Jeff Siner, The Charlotte Observer.

Facing calls to rein in public spending for private school tuition, North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger came to Charlotte on Thursday to celebrate school choice and advocate for the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program.

“Parents deserve to have the ability to choose the learning environment that’s best for their kids,” the Eden Republican said in a news conference at The Male Leadership Academy of Charlotte, a Christian school that received almost $45,000 in public money last year.

Opportunity Scholarships, approved in 2013, provide up to $4,200 a year to help low-income parents send their children to private schools. The program has never used all the money allocated, leaving millions unspent each year, but a spending plan approved in 2017 calls for increasing the budget by $10 million a year through 2027, the Observer recently reported.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Doss Helms, A. “Senate leader: If NC private school voucher money is going unspent, loosen the rules.” The Charlotte Observer. 2/21/19.

‘Don’t Go Be a Teacher’ Is the Attitude NC Schools Chief Wants to Change. Here’s How.

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson speaks at a school choice rally held at the N.C. Museum of History on Jan. 23, 2018. Photo Credit: Chris Seward, The News & Observer.

Teacher salaries are rising in North Carolina, State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson said Tuesday, but more needs to be done to make the profession desirable for the next generation of aspiring educators.

Johnson announced Tuesday the creation of “Teach NC,” a public-private partnership that will be launched this spring to help improve the image of the teaching profession through marketing and to develop a statewide teacher recruitment system. He also said Tuesday that the average teacher salary in the state is approaching $54,000 and that he wants lawmakers to give at least a 5 percent pay raise this year.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, K. “‘Don’t go be a teacher’ is the attitude NC schools chief wants to change. Here’s how.” The News & Observer. 2/19/19.

Senate Democrats Like Republican House Speaker Moore’s Idea for a School Construction Bond

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Photo Credit: Kyo Azuma, Unsplash.

Senate Democrats like the Republican House leader’s idea for a school construction bond, and criticized the funding proposal coming from Republicans in their own chamber for its potential to hurt broader education spending.

But two Democrats who spoke against the Republican senators’ school construction plan in Wednesday morning news conference ended up voting for it in the afternoon, when the Senate approved in a 33-14 vote using money from the state budget to help pay for school construction.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Bonner, L. “Senate Democrats like Republican House Speaker Moore’s idea for a school construction bond.” The News & Observer. 2/20/19.

Less Than Half of NC’s Workforce Has a Degree Past High School. These Leaders Want to Change That.

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Gov. Roy Cooper addresses attendees of myFutureNC’s event at NCSU on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Photo Credit: The News & Observer.

In North Carolina, 67 percent of jobs require more than just a high school degree, but less than half of our workforce is prepared to take them on. Just 49 percent of 25 to 44 year olds — 1.4 North Carolinians total — have achieved some form of postsecondary education.

The myFutureNC Commission wants to change that.

After a year of analysis, research and bridge building with industries and stakeholders across the state, the commission announced its new achievement goal Wednesday. It wants to see 2 million 25 to 44 year olds with high-quality postsecondary degrees or credentials by 2030. That would be around two thirds of the projected state population in that age range.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Polk, S. “Less than half of NC’s workforce has a degree past high school. These leaders want to change that.” The News & Observer. 2/20/19.

Protect Tourism or Give Schools Flexibility? The Calendar Fight Is Raging Again in NC.

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The beach stand looking south from the Johnny Mercer pier at Wrightsville Beach, NC, on July 2, 2015, is crowded with thousands of vacationers. Photo Credit: Chuck Liddy, The News & Observer.

A new battle is shaping up in the long-running fight between North Carolina’s public schools and the tourism industry over who should be responsible for determining when the school year begins and ends.

For more than a decade, the state’s school calendar law has required school districts to begin the school year in late August and end by early June. State lawmakers who want to give school districts more flexibility to open earlier in August are mounting a new push with a flurry of different bills designed to see if they can get exceptions made to the calendar law.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, K. “Protect tourism or give schools flexibility? The calendar fight is raging again in NC.” The News & Observer. 2/15/19.

Wake School Board Member Joins Growing List of Candidates for State Superintendent

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Wake County Board of Education Vice Chair Keith Sutton. Photo Credit: WRAL.

A Wake County school board member announced Saturday he is running for North Carolina superintendent of public instruction in 2020. Board Vice Chair Keith Sutton joins a growing list of candidates running for the elected position, which oversees 115 school systems, 1.5 million students and 180,000 full-time public school employees across the state.

Sutton made the announcement on the Education Matters TV show, which airs on WRAL. Michael Maher, assistant dean of professional education at North Carolina State University, and James Barrett, a Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board member, previously announced they are running.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hinchcliffe, K. “Wake school board member joins growing list of candidates for state superintendent.” WRAL. 2/23/19.

Youth Suicide Up in NC, New Report Finds

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Image Credit: Child Health Report Card 2019, NC Child and North Carolina Institute of Medicine.

Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among kids in North Carolina ages 10 to 17, according to a report out today from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and advocacy group NC Child.

The analysis of state health statistics shows the suicide rate among kids of all ages nearly doubled over the past decade. Attempted suicide was a problem especially for students from marginalized groups.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Philip, L. “Youth Suicide Up In NC, New Report Finds.” WUNC. 2/20/19.

National News

Teachers Are Still Striking, But Their Demands Have Changed. Here’s How

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Mary Jane Helgren, an art teacher in Pleasants County, W.Va., hugs Parry Caster of Huntington Explorer Academy, as teachers and school personnel celebrate after the state House postponed indefinitely a vote on Senate Bill 451, which would have established charter schools in West Virginia. Teachers there went on strike Feb. 19 to protest the bill. Photo Credit: Craig Hudson, Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP.

The teacher activism movement has come full circle, with West Virginia teachers launching their second statewide strike in two years this week.

Last year, the nine-day teacher strike in the Mountain State launched a wave of teacher protests across the country, which is still going on today. Teachers in Oakland, Calif., will be the latest group to head to the picket lines on Thursday.

But the flavor of the teacher strikes has changed. Unlike last year, when teachers across the country shared a similar narrative of crumbling classrooms and stagnant paychecks, the strike demands now are far-reaching. Now, teachers are pushing back against education-reform policies, like charter schools and performance-based pay. They’re also fighting for social-justice initiatives, like sanctuary protections for undocumented students.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Will, M. “Teachers Are Still Striking, But Their Demands Have Changed. Here’s How.” Education Week. 2/20/19.

Opportunities

AttendaNCe Counts! Survey

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We all want our young children to succeed in school, and attending every day can help make that happen. Reach NC Voices is partnering with the NC Early Childhood Foundation to learn from NC elementary school teachers and staff and parents of NC elementary school children how your school encourages regular school attendance.

Please take this short survey to tell NCECF about your experience! Results are anonymous, and you do not need to share your school’s name unless you would like to. Survey link: ednc.org/attendance

We know that when young children are chronically absent – missing a couple days of school every month – they are less likely to read on grade level and more likely to be held back a grade. If we learn more about how elementary schools handle chronic absenteeism, we can determine what supports all schools may need to improve regular attendance.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for Student STEM Enrichment Program

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The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has opened its application for the 2019 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 16, 2019.

For more information or to access the application, visit

https://www.bwfund.org/grant-programs/science-education/student-science-enrichment-program.

Synergy Conference 2019

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The Synergy Conference 2019 for afterschool professionals will convene April 24-25, 2019 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, NC. This year’s conference is themed “DOING THE M.O.S.T.: MAXIMIZING OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME”. The conference timeline can be viewed here.

Early Registration is now open for the annual SYNERGY CONFERENCE! You can register here by February 10th for the discounted rate of $200. Regular registration will begin on February 11th at the regular rate of $225.

We are excited to announce that Mentoring has been added as a new workshop strand. Workshop strands include Arts & Literacy, Closing Gaps, College & Career Readiness, Mentoring, Organizational Capacity, Public/Private Partnerships, S.T.E.M., and Youth Development.

Keynote Speaker Spotlight

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Byron V. Garrett will be this year’s lunch and award ceremony keynote speaker. One of the most compelling voices of our time, Byron V. Garrett is Chairman of the National Family Engagement Alliance (NFEA); a nonprofit dedicated to transforming education through meaningful family engagement. Byron is the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of The Valdecio Collection, a lifestyle brand consisting of clothing, watches and fragrances. The former Director of Educational Leadership & Policy for Microsoft, Byron is a consulting author for Scholastic and released the Byron V. Garrett Social Emotional Learning Collection in 2017 to foster social and emotional learning in today’s classrooms.

To learn more, please visit: ncafterschool.org/synergyconference2019/

FAST NC Fundraising Drive to Aid Public Schools

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Florence Aid to Students and Teachers of North Carolina – FAST NC – is an effort led by a bipartisan group of current and former North Carolina education leaders to help the state’s public schools as students and educators struggle to return to normal following Hurricane Florence and its impact.

To learn more about FAST NC and how to donate, click 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.

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