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The Friday Report

February 24, 2017

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Forum News

This Weekend on Education Matters: Our Vulnerable Students

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This week’s episode of Education Matters focuses on our vulnerable students. 

All young people deal with their own unique sets of pressure and stress in their lives that just come from growing up, but certainly two groups of students today are feeling it acutely – children of immigrants and LGBT youth. This week we talk with experts on how these students are coping and what is being done to support them both in and out of school.

Guests Include:

  • Eliazar Posada, Youth Coordinator, El Centro Hispano
  • Brenda Elliott, Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services, Wake County Public Schools
  • James Miller, Executive Director, LGBT Center of Raleigh
  • Bud Harrelson, Board Member, Safe Schools NC

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When and Where to Watch Education Matters

Saturdays at 7:30 PM, WRAL-TV (Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville)

Sundays at 9:00 AM, UNC-TV’s NC Channel (Statewide)

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

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

If you missed last week’s episode on NC’s Private School Voucher Program, you can watch it online at https://www.ncforum.org/education-matters-ncs-private-school-voucher-program/

NC Legislative Update

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The General Assembly’s education highlights this week included Tuesday presentations by the State Board of Education (SBE) Chairman Bill Cobey and Superintendent Mark Johnson to the Joint Education Appropriations Committee on their respective legislative priorities and budget requests for 2017. The Chairman walked the Committee through the SBE’s Budget Expansion Request, much of which supports The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model. Superintendent Johnson echoed the needs for school connectivity, the digital learning plan, and related professional development for educators. He further emphasized the significant funding needs for state level technology improvements for DPI business operations. He highlighted the importance of lucrative careers for high school graduates that do not require a four-year degree (e.g., utility linemen), and he intends to improve the streamlining between K-12 education and community colleges, among other initiatives. Both gentlemen answered legislators’ questions on the pending court constitutional challenge to HB 17 – the court case that seeks to clarify the exact responsibilities and powers of the SBE versus the Superintendent. For more coverage on Tuesday’s presentation, see “In Education, A Question of Authority” below.

The House unanimously passed HB 13 “Class Size Requirement Changes” last week, and the Senate received it this week, but took no votes. This bill intends to fix the adverse 2017-18 state budget provision that would, in effect, decrease funding for special subject area teachers of the arts, physical education, world languages, etc. It is expected that the Senate will amend the bill to add a strict requirement that LEAs can only use specific state funds to lower class size in grades K-3, and that said funds cannot be used for any other purpose.

The legislative week ended with the House passing HB 6 “Ed Finance Reform Task Force/PED Report.” This bill would create a new 19-member Task Force on Education Finance Reform that would begin on or before October 1, 2017, and would end on October 1, 2018. The Task Force would be charged as follows:

“In consultation with the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction, the Task Force shall study various weighted student formula funding models and develop a new funding model for the elementary and secondary public schools of North Carolina based on a weighted student formula.”

Some House members sought amendments to increase the diversity of appointees to the Task Force, but such amendments were voted down along party lines. For anyone interested in how public schools are (or will be) funded in North Carolina, this bill is one to motivate the masses.

In This Issue

This Weekend on Education Matters: Our Vulnerable Students

NC Legislative Update

Gov. Roy Cooper’s Teacher Pay Plan: Raises Averaging 10 Percent Over Next Two Years

In Education, A Question of Authority

Bill Proposes Major Changes to State Board of Education, Including Electing Members

Adequacy of School Financing Still ‘A Problem’

Bill Would Lower Mandatory School Attendance Age from 7 to 6

General Assembly Sends UNC Board Reduction Bill to Cooper

State Revising Proposed Mental Health Policy After Outcry from Schools

Trump Administration Rolls Back Protections for Transgender Students

Spellings Says U.S. Should Keep Promise to Immigrant Students

As Access to AP Exams Grows, More Students Are Doing Better

Trauma & Learning Fellow

Manager, NC Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP)

NC CAP Annual SYNERGY Conference

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for Student Science Enrichment Program

NC STEM Center

Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership Submissions

Public School Forum Programs

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State News

Gov. Roy Cooper’s Teacher Pay Plan: Raises Averaging 10 Percent Over Next Two Years

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Gov. Roy Cooper looks over students during an after school enrichment program at Collinswood Language Academy on Monday, February 20, 2017. Photo Credit: David T. Foster III, The Charlotte Observer. 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday that his budget will call for 5 percent teacher raises on average this year and next – with a goal of raising pay to the national average in five years.

Cooper’s teacher pay plan would cost $813 million over two years without raising taxes, he said. During that time teachers would get average raises of 10 percent.

Veteran teachers wouldn’t be left out, as they have been in recent pay hikes, the Democratic governor said. The details weren’t released Monday, but he said all teachers would get approximately 3 percent this year and many would get bigger bumps.

At a news conference at Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Collinswood Language Academy, Cooper noted that parents entrust their children to teachers every day. “It’s time to put our money where our trust is,” he said. “It’s time for a significant teacher pay plan.”

Read Cooper’s one-page summary of his teacher pay plan.

Details will come when Cooper releases his budget in the coming weeks. The state House and Senate will also introduce budgets. There’s widespread agreement that teachers need another raise to make up for the stagnation and losses during the recession, but political crossfire and conflict over specifics can be expected.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Helms, A. “Gov. Roy Cooper’s teacher pay plan: Raises averaging 10 percent over next two years.” The Charlotte Observer. 2/20/17.

In Education, A Question of Authority

Lawmakers at a joint appropriations education committee meeting Tuesday asked many questions of state education leaders but hinted at a bigger question: who has authority over the Department of Public Instruction and, more broadly, over all of the state’s schools?

Both State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson presented at the meeting. Cobey laid out the Board’s funding requests and Johnson told members some of his own priorities.

But the lawsuit that could decide who has top responsibility for state schools was brought up multiple times throughout the morning.

Rep. Henry Michaux, D-Durham, first mentioned the lawsuit, filed by the State Board of Education against the state of North Carolina in December in an attempt to block House Bill 17, which would transfer many of the Board’s powers to Johnson. The case is set to be heard by a three-judge panel in June.

Michaux asked Cobey if the result of the lawsuit would affect the Board’s funding priorities — and if both the Superintendent and the Board support the priorities Cobey presented.

Cobey said the result of the lawsuit would not affect the budget requests, but that they were agreed upon before Johnson was elected.

“So our Superintendent would need to speak to that,” Cobey said. “But he is our Chief Administrative Officer and we have ongoing discussions about a number of topics … Our focus — the Board and our Superintendent — is the welfare of the children of our state. And I recognize there is a lawsuit, but that’s not going to affect our effort to give the best possible education to the children of our state.”

As Johnson came to the front of the room, he gave his own take on the evolving relationship between him and the Board.

“I think we’re now learning more and more that there is separation between the Office of the State Superintendent and the State Board of Education,” Johnson said. “And I think we’ll work more and more to figure out where the important powers lie for each of those.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Bell, L. “In education, a question of authority.” EducationNC. 2/22/17.

Bill Proposes Major Changes to State Board of Education, Including Electing Members

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A bill filed last Thursday by three Republican lawmakers seeks to make major changes to the way the State Board of Education is composed, including electing members instead of appointing them, giving the state superintendent voting rights and removing the state treasurer from the board.

House Bill 133 proposes amending the state constitution so board members are elected by congressional district and serve four-year terms. Under current state law, board members are appointed by the governor, confirmed by the legislature in joint session and serve eight-year terms.

The bill would allow the governor to appoint the school board chair without legislative confirmation. However, the chair would cast votes only in the event of a tie among board members. The bill would also allow the lieutenant governor to continue serving on the board.

When reached last Thursday, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey said he was not aware of the proposed changes.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Adequacy of School Financing Still ‘A Problem’

North Carolina’s system for financing schools is “relatively equitable, stable and flexible,” but its adequacy “most likely remains a problem” for its public schools, a new report says.

Enrollment has grown steadily to about 1.5 million students, including nearly 90,000 at 167 charter schools, while spending per pupil overall, as well as personnel per student in traditional schools, both have declined, says Financing Education in North Carolina, a report from the North Carolina Justice Center.

Per-pupil spending

In fiscal 2016, the state ranked 44th in the U.S. on spending per pupil, down one spot from before fiscal 2009, when budget cuts were made in the face of the recession, the report says.

Per-pupil spending has grown just over two percent since fiscal 2009, but has declined over eight percent when adjusted for inflation, the report says.

In fiscal 2016, per-pupil spending in North Carolina was $3,182 below the national average of about $12,000, the report says. In fiscal 2009, it says, per-pupil spending in North Carolina had been $1,552 below the national average of over $10,000.

Enrollment and personnel

Enrollment in the state’s public schools has grown 18.6 percent over the past 15 years, driven in recent years by the number of students enrolled in charter schools, the report says.

Yet the number of personnel per student in the state’s traditional public schools has fallen 10.4 percent since fiscal 2009, including six percent fewer teachers and 31 percent fewer teacher assistants, the report says.

Urban school districts continue to attract students, while most rural districts are losing students, with only 28 districts growing in fiscal 2017, and 87 districts losing students.

Diverse districts

North Carolina is home to 115 school districts, including 89 that share their borders with counties, and multiple school districts in 11 counties. The state is home to nearly 2,600 schools, including charter schools, and they represent diverse populations and student demographics.

The school districts in Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, for example, are among the 20 largest school districts in the U.S., with each enrolling about 150,000 students, while 40 districts in the state enroll fewer than 4,000 students.

The number of students in Wake, the biggest district in the state, is about the same as the combined total of the state’s 54 smallest districts.

Nearly 18 percent of students in Asheboro City Schools speak English as a second language, compared to fewer than one percent of students in Weldon City Schools. And 28 percent of students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools qualify for lunch that is free or at a reduced price, compared to 88 percent of students in Lexington City Schools. And 19 percent of students in Stokes County have an identified disability, compared to seven percent in Clinton City Schools.

To continue reading the complete press release, click here.

Excerpt from:

Cohen, T. “Adequacy of school financing still ‘a problem’.” Philanthropy North Carolina. 2/23/17.

Bill Would Lower Mandatory School Attendance

Age from 7 to 6

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A bill filed in the state House this week seeks to lower the age when children must begin attending school from 7 to 6 years old. Current state law says children between the ages of 7 and 16 must be in school. All public school systems must offer kindergarten, but children are not required to attend.

Lawmakers and education leaders say the bill is simply a way of catching up with the times since most children enroll in school before the age of 7 anyway.

“I’m not sure it’s going to have a significant impact at all,” said John Pruette, director of the Office of Early Learning for the state Department of Public Instruction. “Historically, (7 years old has) been the age forever. It appears to me to be an attempt to come into the 21st century.”

More than 122,000 students are enrolled in kindergarten in North Carolina public schools, according to Pruette. He said that represents more than 90 percent of the children who are eligible to be enrolled.

Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, is a sponsor of the bill and said he hopes it will accomplish two things – update the state’s law on attendance and enhance early childhood education.

“We have learned a lot about brain development in early childhood over the last several years and that the value of an early education is now measurable,” Horn said. “So, it seems sensible to me that since we already have our kids begin school at age 6 that we bring our statutes in line. It also makes sense for North Carolina to strengthen early education for all children in our state.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hinchcliffe, K. “Bill would lower mandatory school attendance age from 7 to 6.” WRAL. 2/22/17.

General Assembly Sends UNC Board Reduction Bill to Cooper

The Republican-controlled General Assembly on Monday sent its first bill of the year to new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper — legislation reducing membership on the board overseeing the University of North Carolina system’s 17 campuses.

With the Senate’s final vote, Cooper will have 10 days to decide whether to sign the measure reducing the UNC Board of Governors from 32 voting members to 24, veto the bill, or let it become law without his signature. The margins of the final chamber votes, including 38-7 in the Senate, indicate a veto could be overridden. Cooper hasn’t said publicly what he thinks about the measure.

The measure received final approval after an hour of Senate debate floor debate in which several black Democrats expressed concerns that decreasing the board by 25 percent would make it harder to retain minority members on the prestigious panel. Senate and House members elect the board members in odd-numbered years. The board would initially drop to 28 members this summer.

Republicans pushing the measure say fewer members would lead to more efficiency and effectiveness. UNC system President Margaret Spellings released a statement late last week saying the proposal “fits with a natural pattern of modern and effective governance and greater operational efficiency.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Robertson, G. “General Assembly sends UNC board reduction bill to Cooper.” The Associated Press. 2/20/17.

State Revising Proposed Mental Health Policy After Outcry from Schools

State education leaders are revising a proposed mental health policy for public schools after charter schools and school boards objected to the guidelines, calling them well-meaning but too burdensome and expensive to implement.

The State Board of Education was expected to vote on the policy in March, but the vote has been delayed until April so staff can make changes.

The draft policy, as currently written, says all public schools should provide mental health training for staff, develop policies for mental health services and create a school mental health assistance team to include, at a minimum, a school social worker, school psychologist, school counselor, school nurse and community mental health provider.

The proposal also calls for schools to improve their staffing ratios of licensed counselors, nurses, social workers and others “to align with nationally recognized ratios.”

The policy drew objections this month from the North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools and the North Carolina School Boards Association, which partnered to oppose what they call an “unfunded mandate.”

The policy “looks innocuous until you actually think about it and realize what the implications are,” said Lee Teague, executive director of the association for public charter schools. “I’ve had several school operators tell me that the extra burden would be very difficult for them to meet and could potentially affect the classroom.”

Teague said he has heard from leaders at nearly a dozen charter schools who objected to the policy and said more complaints would likely follow if it was not changed. He shared several letters from charter school leaders who emailed the State Board of Education, including one from a superintendent who said his school takes mental health seriously, especially after losing a student last year.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hinchcliffe, K. “State revising proposed mental health policy after outcry from schools.” WRAL. 2/17/17.

National News

Trump Administration Rolls Back Protections for Transgender Students

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The Trump administration on Wednesday revoked federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity, taking a stand on a contentious issue that has become the central battle over LGBT rights.

Officials with the federal Education and Justice departments notified the U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday that the administration is ordering the nation’s schools to disregard memos the Obama administration issued during the past two years regarding transgender student rights. Those memos said that prohibiting transgender students from using facilities that align with their gender identity violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

The two-page “Dear colleague” letter from the Trump administration, which is set to go to the nation’s public schools, does not offer any new guidance, instead saying that the earlier directive needed to be withdrawn because it lacked extensive legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, sowed confusion and drew legal challenges.

The administration said that it would not rely on the prior interpretation of the law in the future.

The departments wrote that the Trump administration wants to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved,” and said that there must be “due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.” Although it offered no clarity or direction to schools that have transgender students, the letter added that “schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that his department “has a duty to enforce the law” and criticized the Obama administration’s guidance as lacking sufficient legal basis. Sessions wrote that the Department of Justice remains committed to the “proper interpretation” of the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX but said deference should be given to lawmakers and localities.

“Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue,” Sessions said.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos echoed that sentiment, saying that this is an issue “best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students.”

DeVos also gave assurances that the department’s Office for Civil Rights “remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools,” and she noted that she considers “protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”

The decision — delayed in part because DeVos and Sessions hit stalemates regarding timing and specific language — drew immediate condemnation from gay and transgender rights advocates, who accused President Trump of violating past promises to support gay and transgender protections. Advocates said the withdrawal of the federal guidance will create another layer of confusion for schools and will make transgender students, who are already vulnerable, more so.

Spellings Says U.S. Should Keep Promise to Immigrant Students

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UNC President Margaret Spellings (pictured right) has made a national statement supporting “Dreamers,” students with temporarily protected immigration status, at a time when President Donald Trump ramps up plans for enforcement and deportation.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Tuesday, Spellings went to bat for students who are classified under the 2012 federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That policy was enacted by former President Barack Obama, and it authorized temporary resident status to students and workers who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

“Thousands of DACA students are working toward degrees, striving to become the teachers, nurses, business owners and good neighbors our country needs,” wrote Spellings, who was U.S. education secretary under Republican President George W. Bush. “They pay tuition without the help of state or federal financial aid and, depending on where they live, they often must pay much higher out-of-state tuition rates.”

Now, she added, under uncertain immigration policy, “these students are paralyzed, uncertain whether they can safely continue their studies.”

More than 750,000 young people are protected by the policy, including some 27,000 in North Carolina, according to the Pew Research Center. But fears have risen as the Trump administration begins tougher immigration enforcement.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Stancill, J. “Spellings says U.S. should keep promise to immigrant students.” News & Observer. 2/22/17.

As Access to AP Exams Grows, More Students Are Doing Better

The percentage of the country’s public high school students who scored three or higher on AP exams continues to grow, according to results released Wednesday by the College Board. Nationally, just under 22 percent of the class of 2016 achieved a three or better mark, up slightly from 2015 and nearly eight points up from 2006.

Scores for Advanced Placement exams are on a five-point scale, with a three generally considered passing. Higher AP scores allow students to obtain college credits or skip entry-level college classes.

Massachusetts led all states with 31 percent of its students scoring three or higher. Maryland, which had held the top spot since 2008, dropped to second position with 30.4 percent of its students achieving passing grades. Connecticut (30.1), Florida (29.5) and California (28.5) rounded out the top five.

Seventeen states scored higher than the national average, including Virginia (28.3). In the District of Columbia, which is included in the results but whose test results cannot be easily compared with those of states, 13.8 percent of the class of 2016 achieved three or better on AP exams.

Last year, the District’s results were better than about half of all states’. This year, 34 states performed better than the District.

Mississippi trailed all states with just under 6 percent of its students achieving three or better. Louisiana, North Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas were among the five worst-performing states.

AP exams are offered in a wide variety of subjects, and each year, more students are taking them. In 2006, 645,000 students took at least one AP exam each. In 2016 that number had grown to 1.1 million.

College Board President David Coleman said in a conference call with reporters that while the number of students taking AP tests continues to grow, the bigger news is that performance on the tests continues to improve.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Heim, J. “As access to AP exams grows, more students are doing better.” The Washington Post. 2/22/17.

Public School Forum Job Opportunities

Trauma & Learning Fellow

The Forum recently began an intensive effort to support educators as they help students traumatized by exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) succeed in school.

To achieve its goals in this area, and to help launch the North Carolina Safe & Supportive Schools Initiative (NCSSSI), the Forum is seeking to hire a Trauma & Learning Fellow to work with Forum staff, consultants, and partners. The Fellow will help develop awareness among educators of the potential impact of childhood trauma on learning. He or she will also assist schools in partner LEAs as they join a growing movement of educators piloting efforts to create trauma-sensitive schools.

This full-time, one-year fellowship provides an incredible opportunity to become immersed in the interplay of trauma and learning and to actively contribute to the growth of a new and significant program. Fellowship dates are negotiable but will ideally start no later than June 2017. Interested candidates should submit cover letters and resumes to Rhonda van Dijk at rvandijk@ncforum.org. Please include the job posting title in the subject line. The Forum is accepting applications through March 15, 2017. The full job description can be found on our website here.

Manager, NC Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP)

The Public School Forum is currently seeking a manager to lead its North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP). Established in 2002, NC CAP works with key partners, including afterschool providers, state agencies, state and local policymakers, universities and community colleges, business, and the philanthropic community, to increase access to high-quality afterschool and expanded learning opportunities for children and youth, particularly low-income children and those at risk of educational failure. NC CAP is part of a 50-state Afterschool Network focused on improving education and out-of-school time opportunities for children and youth.

The NC CAP Manager will work with key partners to develop, lead, coordinate and drive the network’s initiatives. He or she will guide the design and delivery of professional development opportunities, advocacy, and shaping of policy that advances afterschool learning and brings together state and national afterschool stakeholders. The NC CAP Manager will also lead our annual conference, SYNERGY, the only statewide conference that brings together providers of out of school time programs, along with education and community stakeholders.

Interested candidates should submit cover letters and resumes to Rhonda van Dijk at rvandijk@ncforum.org. Please include the job posting title in the subject line. The Forum is accepting applications through March 17, 2017. The full job description can be found on our website here.

Opportunities

NC CAP Annual SYNERGY Conference

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Registration is open for the NC Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP) SYNERGY Conference. The 2017 SYNERGY Conference will be held April 3-5, 2017 at the Hilton Charlotte University Place. We invite you to join NC CAP to Spring into STEM!

This year’s conference will focus on STEM and healthy living in afterschool and expanded learning. We will continue the SYNERGY trend of engaging keynotes, a plethora of workshop opportunities, and networking with providers across the state!

Registration is online here

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for Student Science Enrichment Program

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has opened its application for the 2017 Student Science 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 scientific 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, 2017.

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

NC STEM Center

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Did you know that the NC STEM Center has a STEM calendar of events across North Carolina? The NC STEM Center’s goal is to be the first stop for parents and educators to gain information about STEM programming across the state. By collaborating with other nonprofits, this online portal helps introduce parents and educators to STEM organizations in North Carolina. 

Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership Submissions

The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is accepting articles and literary reviews to be featured in the third issue of the Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership (JoITL).

The peer-reviewed publication features original work on K–12 educational topics from research to pedagogy to policy, and more.

Special consideration will be given to works that address:

  • STEM education and science literacy
  • Project and inquiry based learning
  • Teacher leadership and research experiences for educators
  • Data literacy and digital learning

Submissions will be accepted through Friday, March 31, 2017. For submission guidelines, visit kenanfellows.org/journals. Please send questions to the managing editor, Amneris Solano, at asolano@ncsu.edu.

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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