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The Friday Report

February 3, 2017

State News

Top Education Leaders Leaving as NC Superintendent Considers Staff Changes

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Deputy State Superintendent Rebecca Garland, flanked by State Superintendent Mark Johnson and State Board Chairman Bill Cobey, announces her retirement on Feb. 2, 2017. Photo Credit: WRAL.

Several top state education leaders announced this week that they are retiring or leaving their jobs at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The announcements came as State Superintendent Mark Johnson said he has sought ideas about “organizational and staff changes to make the department run more efficiently.”

Any changes Johnson wants to make will have to be approved by the State Board of Education, which is embroiled in a lawsuit over whether the board or superintendent should have the power to make those kinds of decisions. As of now, the authority still rests with the board.

Deputy State Superintendent Rebecca Garland is the highest-ranking education official to announce that she is retiring. She has served in that role since 2014 and has spent more than 30 years in education. She previously worked as the department’s chief academic officer and as executive director for the State Board of Education. Before that, she worked in Orange, Alamance and Harnett county schools.

Garland is not the only state education official who is leaving. Others include:

  • Philip Price, chief financial officer
  • LouAnn Phillips, director of human resources
  • Rachel Beaulieu, legislative and community affairs director
  • Ken Gattis, senior research and evaluation coordinator

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

This Weekend on Education Matters: Teacher of the Year: A New Documentary Film

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This week’s episode of Education Matters discusses a new documentary film, Teacher of the Year.

Teacher of the Year is a new documentary film that reveals the complex reality of teaching in the 21st century and explores the forces that influence a teacher’s performance for the competing needs of audiences made up of students, parents, administrators, other teachers, politicians, and the public at large. The subject and directors join us to talk about the project and to explore how Hollywood portrays teachers and the teaching profession.

Guests Include:

  • Mary M. Dalton, Professor, Wake Forest University
  • Rob Phillips, Filmmaker, At Large Productions and NC English Teacher, 9-12
  • Jay Korreck, Filmmaker and Chief Design Officer, At Large Productions and Constructive Learning Design
  • Angie Scioli, Social Studies Teacher, Leesville Road High School, Raleigh

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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.

In This Issue

Top Education Leaders Leaving as NC Superintendent Considers Staff Changes

This Weekend on Education Matters: Teacher of the Year: A New Documentary Film

New NC Education Chief Talks About Testing, Teachers, School Choice and Betsy DeVos

Rachel Beaulieu Joins Public School Forum as Senior Policy Advisor

29 North Carolina Charter Schools Get Approval to Stay Open

State Board of Education Delays Decision on Kestrel Heights in Durham

Reportable Public School Crimes/Consequences Decrease in 2015-16; Short-Term Suspension Increase

Math, English Standards Being Revised

Betsy DeVos Nomination Triggers Massive Phone Campaign in North Carolina

New Bill Offers Glimpse of How Washington Could Use Federal Funding to Expand School Vouchers

6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs About Intelligence

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for Student Science Enrichment Program

Forum Beginning Teacher Leadership Network (BTLN) Request for Proposals

Applications Open for 2017-18 NC Teacher Voice Network

Upcoming NCCAT Professional Development Opportunities

World View Spring Seminars on Latin America and Africa

Public School Forum Programs

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New NC Education Chief Talks About Testing, Teachers, School Choice and Betsy DeVos

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Photo Credit: Ann Doss Helms, The Charlotte Observer

Mark Johnson is a hard guy to pigeonhole. North Carolina’s new superintendent of public instruction is a former public school teacher and school board member who says traditional public education is vital. Yet he’s also an unapologetic proponent of school choice, including its most controversial spokesperson, U.S. education secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos.

He was part of the state’s Republican sweep in November, and is joining a lawsuit to support the General Assembly’s move to expand his powers. Yet he insists he wants to use that power to speak for superintendents, principals and teachers.

“I don’t want to be the guy from Raleigh who goes and tells the superintendents what they have to do. I want to be the superintendents’ guy in Raleigh working for them,” Johnson said this week. “If you give superintendents the support they need, they in turn can give principals the support that they need, and principals can be good leaders of schools.”

Johnson, a newcomer to state government who defeated longtime Superintendent June Atkinson, is preparing to do a statewide “listening tour.” He said one of his early stops will be West Charlotte High, where he taught from 2006 to 2008.

In Raleigh, one of his first meetings was with Mark Jewell of the North Carolina Association of Educators, a group that enthusiastically endorsed Atkinson. Jewell, the NCAE president, and Johnson both say they acknowledged areas of disagreement, such as school choice, and agreed there’s common ground on issues such as testing reform.

“He was very nice,” Jewell said, but added that he still has concerns about Johnson’s lack of experience in administration or state government. “People are going to be watching very closely,” Jewell said. “The jury’s still out.”

Johnson spent 30 minutes talking with The Charlotte Observer on a wide range of education issues.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Helms, A. “New NC education chief talks about testing, teachers, school choice and Betsy DeVos.” The Charlotte Observer. 1/27/17.

Rachel Beaulieu Joins Public School Forum as Senior Policy Advisor

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Rachel Beaulieu, currently the Director of Legislative and Community Relations at the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI), will be joining the Public School Forum as a Senior Policy Advisor later this month.

Rachel is an accomplished attorney with extensive experience in education law and a respected legislative liaison with trusted relationships on both sides of the aisle in the NC General Assembly.

“Rachel will bring a great deal of experience and expertise to the Forum’s policy work,” said Forum President Keith Poston. “She will be a key player as we expand our reach across the state to provide in-depth analysis and real-time updates on key education policy issues that our state partners need to be more effective ambassadors for public education.”

Rachel will be working with the Public School Forum, as well as other organizations that align with the Forum’s work and priorities, through her law practice. Rachel began her career as a public school teacher as part of the 2nd class of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program.

29 North Carolina Charter Schools Get Approval to Stay Open

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Raleigh’s Magellan Charter School 8th grader Ethan Celata got down and horizontal to spray paint

his team’s brightly colored blowfish in April 2016. Photo Credit: News & Observer File Photo.

The State Board of Education renewed 29 charter schools on Thursday – including 11 in the Triangle – allowing the non-traditional public schools to stay open for as many as 10 more years.

In Wake County, the State Board gave the maximum possible renewal of 10 years to Sterling Montessori Academy in Morrisville and three Raleigh charter schools: Casa Esperanza Montessori, Magellan Charter School and The Exploris School. PreEminent Charter School in Raleigh only received a three-year renewal because of its test scores.

In Durham, The Central Park School for Children, Maureen Joy Charter School and Voyager Academy all received 10-year renewals. Voyager’s renewal is contingent upon no issues being found in an upcoming financial audit.

Also on Thursday, Eno River Academy in Hillsborough and Chatham Charter School in Siler City received 10-year renewals. Neuse Charter School in Smithfield received a seven-year renewal due to questions about its finances.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, T. “29 North Carolina charter schools get approval to stay open.” The News & Observer. 2/2/17.

State Board of Education Delays Decision on Kestrel Heights in Durham

The future of Kestrel Heights High School is on hold for a month while the State Board of Education reviews information from the school, students and the public.

The board unanimously voted Wednesday to postpone action until March 1-2. At those meetings the board will discuss and likely vote on recommendations that include closing the charter school’s high school for at least three years following the discovery that 40 percent of its 399 graduates from 2008-16 had not completed the required credits.

“Of course a decision of this magnitude deserves serious evaluation,” Board of Education member Becky Taylor said.

School officials hope they will be able to keep the high school open, Kestrel Heights executive director Mark Tracy said. “We do want to do right by our students. We want to do right by our community,” Tracy said. “I think with the changes that have already occurred in our organization we will be able to do that.” A student demonstration Tuesday and an online petition with more than 570 supporters shows what the school means to students, Tracy said.

The state Charter School Advisory Board recommended last month that the 18-year-old charter school close its high school this summer and remain a K-8 school for at least three years.

The school’s charter expires this year, and it was being considered for a 10-year renewal. Last year the school self reported concerns about graduates missing credits. An audit revealed that about 160 students didn’t have enough credits to graduate. The missing courses included math, English, American history and physical education.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Bridges, V. “NC Board of Education delays decision on Kestrel Heights in Durham.” News & Observer. 2/1/17.

Reportable Public School Crimes/Consequences Decrease in 2015-16; Short-Term Suspension Increase

Numbers of reportable acts of school crime, long-term suspensions, expulsions and corporal punishment events decreased in 2015-16, while the number of short-term suspensions increased, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s 2015-16 Consolidated Data Report. This report will be presented Feb. 2 to the State Board of Education. The total number of reportable acts of school crime decreased 3.2 percent from the 2014-15 school year. Approximately 1.5 million students attended public schools in 2015-16.

State Board Chairman Bill Cobey said he was glad to learn that school crime and violence acts and the disciplinary consequences for such acts decreased last year for the most part. “Schools must be safe havens if we want our teachers to be effective and our students to excel academically,” he said. Cobey added that it is imperative for educators to have strong support from parents and the school community to have the most positive impact on this key measure of school success.

Key findings of the 2015-16 Consolidated Data Report show that:

Reportable Acts of School Crime

  • The total number of reported acts of school crime decreased 3.2 percent to 10,020 from 10,347 acts in 2014-15. The rate of acts per 1,000 students decreased by 3.9 percent to 6.62 acts per 1,000 students, compared to 6.89 acts per 1,000 students in 2014-15.
  • 2,057 schools (79 percent of all) reported five or fewer acts of crime.
  • Four districts – Clay, Jones, Polk and Washington – reported no acts at the high school grades.

Short-Term Suspensions

  • Short-term suspensions (10 days or fewer) among students in all grades increased for the second year in a row, up last year by 4.0 percent. There were 216,895 short-term suspensions reported, compared to 208,650 reported in 2014-15.
  • Of that total, 40.8 percent or 88,559 were given to high school students – a 2.3 percent increase from the 2013-14 total of 86,578.
  • More males than females received short-term suspensions, though both genders showed increases in short-term suspensions from the previous year.
  • American Indian students experienced the only decrease in short-term suspensions; all other racial subgroups showed increases.

To continue reading the complete press release, click here.

Excerpt from:

NCDPI. “Reportable Public School Crimes/Consequences Decrease in 2015-16; Short-Term Suspensions Increase.” 1/25/17.

Math, English Standards Being Revised

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Photo Credit: AP Photo

Setting standards – what North Carolina students should know and be able to do – is a key element of the State Board of Education’s work in ensuring that students receive what they need in the classroom. Local educators use the state-adopted standards to create a curriculum to help their students meet each standard. Curriculum materials – textbooks, digital content, activities and lessons – are locally developed or selected. In January, the State Board heard updates on standards revisions for mathematics and English language arts, a process that occurs approximately every five years.

Revised standards for High School Math 1, 2 and 3 were adopted in June 2016, and implementation is in full swing in school districts. To support this work, NCDPI provided 2016 summer information sessions, in-person regional math professional development, virtual teacher support to provide “just in time” help, and curriculum leader implementation support to build a digital tool for math teachers that is dynamic and sustainable for years 2 and 3.

Work is underway now to review and revise the K-8 mathematics standards and also standards for the “fourth math” in high school. These “fourth math” courses can include Advanced Functions and Modeling, Essentials of College Math, Discrete Math and Pre-Calculus. (Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate math standards are established by The College Board and International Baccalaureate.) This work includes surveying college and university mathematics professors, school district math leaders and mathematics teachers statewide. NCDPI mathematics staff expect that major revisions will be needed for some of the fourth math courses. New standards will be presented to the State Board of Education for action.

The K-12 English language arts revision process began in 2016, and a draft of these revisions is expected to be presented to the Board in spring 2017. Public input is invited through an online survey. Nearly 300 educators have provided feedback at eight regional meetings; approximately 5,000 responses were received to the educator English language arts survey. In considering the English language arts standards, 17 of 481 standards received an approval rating below 80 percent.

Reprinted from:

NCDPI. “January 2017 From the Board Room.” 1/30/17.

National News

Betsy DeVos Nomination Triggers Massive Phone Campaign in North Carolina

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Betsy DeVos, nominated to lead the U.S. Department of Education, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington,

Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Photo Credit: Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press.

The nomination of Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee, is one vote away from being doomed – and North Carolina senators’ phone lines are being jammed as constituents for and against her plead with lawmakers.

The Senate began debating DeVos’ nomination late Wednesday, with a final vote likely later this week or early next week. Two Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said they won’t vote for her. Republicans control 52 of the Senate’s 100 seats, and Vice President Mike Pence breaks ties.

That means one more GOP defection could doom the nomination, as Democrats are expected to unanimously oppose her.

Critics point to DeVos’ push for alternatives to public education, including pushing for more charter schools and allowing taxpayer-funded vouchers to be used at private schools.

Murkowski said it was a personal decision and, in a speech on the Senate floor, added she’d been overwhelmed with calls from constituents against DeVos. Other Republican lawmakers experienced heavy call volumes. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, in a tweet, advised his constituents to email him instead of calling his office.

The public feedback has been so intense some North Carolinians say they ran into full voicemail boxes or their messages went unreturned when they contacted U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, both N.C. Republicans. Both Burr and Tillis’ offices said they have alternative methods of communication for constituents when phone lines are jammed.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

New Bill Offers Glimpse of How Washington Could Use Federal Funding to Expand School Vouchers

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Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) chats with Betsy DeVos before her hearing to be next

Secretary of Education on Capitol Hill.  Photo Credit: Yuri Gripas, Reuters.

Sen. Tim Scott, the South Carolina Republican who is one of the most ardent supporters of vouchers and charter schools on Capitol Hill, this week introduced a bill that offers some insight into where and how the new Congress and Trump administration could make good on their promises to push for the expansion of alternatives to traditional public schools.

Scott’s bill — the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act, or CHOICE Act — is a three-pronged approach to devoting more federal funding to voucher programs for children to attend the private schools and, in some cases, the public schools of their choice.

First, the CHOICE Act would give states start-up funds to begin such programs for students with disabilities, and also would allow states to voucherize federal funds authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, allowing students with disabilities to take those federal funds to whatever private school they choose to attend.

Second, the act would create a pilot program to offer vouchers to military children who live on Department of Defense bases. The vouchers would be worth up to $8,000 for elementary school and up to $12,000 for secondary school. They could be used at the private or public school of the child’s choice.

Third, the act would expand eligibility for an existing federally funded voucher program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, by allowing low-income D.C. students who currently attend a private school to qualify.

Scott introduced the same bill during the last session of Congress, but — unsurprisingly, at a time when President Obama was firmly opposed to vouchers — it went nowhere.

President Trump has pledged to redirect $20 million in federal spending to expanding vouchers and charter schools, and his nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has spent nearly three decades lobbying to create and expand voucher programs nationwide.

The bill also has the support of key Republicans, including co-sponsors Mitch McConnell (Ky.), the Majority Leader, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs About Intelligence

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Photo Credit: Ted Warren, Associated Press

“There are lots of people at the place where I work, but there is one person who is really special. This person is really, really smart,” said Lin Bian. “This person figures out how to do things quickly and comes up with answers much faster and better than anyone else. This person is really, really smart.”

Bian, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, read this story out to 240 children, aged 5 to 7. She then showed them pictures of four adults—two men and two women—and asked them to guess which was the protagonist of the story. She also gave them two further tests: one in which they had to guess which adult in a pair was “really, really smart”, and another where they had to match attributes like “smart” or “nice” to pictures of unfamiliar men and women.

The results were stark. Among the 5-year-olds, both boys and girls associated brilliance with their own gender. But among those aged 6 or 7, only the boys still held to that view. At an age when girls tend to outperform boys at school, and when children in general show large positive biases towards their own in-groups, the girls became less likely than boys to attribute brilliance to their own gender. You could frame that as a good thing: While boys continued to believe in their own brilliance, the girls, on average, developed a more equal view. But that view has consequences—Bian also found that the older girls were less interested in games that were meant for “really, really smart” children.

“It was really heartbreaking,” she says.

The stereotype that brilliance and genius are male traits is common among adults. In various surveys, men rate their intelligence more favorably than women, and in a recent study of biology undergraduates, men overrated the abilities of male students above equally talented and outspoken women. But Bian’s study shows that the seeds of this pernicious bias are planted at a very early age. Even by the age of 6, boys and girls are already diverging in who they think is smart.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Yong, E. “6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs About Intelligence.” The Atlantic. 1/26/17.

Opportunities

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.

Forum Beginning Teacher Leadership Network (BTLN) Request for Proposals

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The Public School Forum of NC is seeking current teachers who are interested in presenting to the Beginning Teacher Leadership Network (BTLN) in Wake, Mecklenburg, and Union counties during the Spring 2017 semester. If you are interested, please apply online here. Contact James Ford at jford@ncforum.org with questions.

Applications Open for 2017-18 NC Teacher Voice Network

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Applications are open for the North Carolina Teacher Voice Network. Hope Street Group NC Teacher Voice Network Leaders collaborate with state and national decision-makers, as well as their colleagues, to develop practical policy solutions to challenges in education. Network Leaders remain in their classrooms full-time and work with Hope Street Group for 10-15 hours each month and receive a $3,000 stipend for the 12-month fellowship.

The application will be open January 16 through February 10 at apply.hopestreetgroup.org.  Email questions to Fellowship@hopestreetgroup.org.

Upcoming NCCAT Professional Development Opportunities

North Carolina educators have plenty of opportunities throughout the summer to attend the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a recognized national leader in professional development programming for teachers. Applicants are encouraged to register as soon as possible to ensure a spot. Programs are available to North Carolina educators at the Cullowhee and Ocracoke campuses, online and with NCCAT faculty visiting school districts. NCCAT provides food, lodging and programming. Teachers and or their districts are responsible for travel to and from the center and the cost of the substitute teacher. For more information visit www.nccat.org.

Some upcoming programs:
14339 • MIDDLE GRADES ELA: TEACHING BEYOND THE EOG-CULLOWHEE
February 13-16
Designed for ELA teachers of grades 6–8 and those who coach them.
Middle grades ELA inhabits a type of educational limbo. Intellectually, students are capable of taking on complex reading and writing tasks but many are still developing the necessary maturity to do so. This program will examine the knowledge and skills necessary to transition successfully from elementary to high school. Teachers will engage in and then craft their own language arts activities that engage both the child and the budding adult in each of their students. Activities will address reading, writing, thinking, speaking and listening skills.

14359 • TECHNOLOGY TOOLS TO ENHANCE STEM-CULLOWHEE
March 27- 30
The study of STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—stimulates children to think critically and problem solve. STEM skills are crucial to building workforce readiness. Purposeful integration of tools found in the workplace can make STEM learning more authentic and relevant. Explore various types of technology and tools that can be incorporated into these existing lessons to make them even better. Maximize classroom time by integrating technologies that can make data collection and analysis easier. Experience lessons that give students a desire to ask questions and engineer solutions. Various technologies will be explored including Vernier sensors, coding software, design software, Cubelets, Spheros, web 2.0 resources, Makey Makeys, and more. Join us as we make messes, break things, fix things, and create minds-on STEM learning environments.

14387 • USING ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY TOOLS AND DIGITAL RESOURCES TO IMPROVE THE LITERACY SKILLS OF EXCEPTIONAL STUDENTS-OCRACOKE
April 18-21
Meeting the needs of exceptional children can be a challenge for teachers who have these students in regular classroom settings. It can also be a challenge for EC teachers who have experience, but who must teach in multi-grade and multi-categorical self-contained classrooms. NCDPI mandates that public schools identify and serve students with disabilities, and that these students demonstrate progress on regular or extended content standards. Join teachers of EC students and experts in the field of special education as we investigate technology tools and digital resources and other strategies to provide enhanced literacy instruction integrated across the curriculum. Create lessons that differentiate for all learners. Explore the policies and best practices of EC expectations, create ways to challenge EC children, enhance literacy, and encourage continual intellectual and developmental growth.

14389 • READING FOR MEANING: THE ROLE OF QUESTIONING-OCRACOKE
April 24-27
Designed for teachers of grades K–5.
Good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading to make sense of text. Questions provide the opportunity to interact with the text and figure out the deeper meaning of what is being read. How do teachers model good questioning strategies? How do teachers pose questions that foster critical thinking? What types of questions help readers understand confusing parts of a book? Learn how to use questioning strategies to enhance reading comprehension for all students.

World View Spring Seminars on Latin America and Africa

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Registration is open for World View spring seminars on Latin America and Africa scheduled for March 28-29 and March 29-30 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Immerse yourself in the dynamic forces shaping and connecting Latin America, Africa, North Carolina and the United States during two spring seminars designed specifically for K-12 and community educators. Renowned UNC and country experts, thought leaders and student panels will broaden your knowledge of Latin America and Africa and offer strategies you can apply right away in your classroom.

North Carolina’s Latinx population has grown 136% since 2000, according to the most recent Pew Research Center survey. World View’s Latin America and North Carolina seminar will help educators address the unique opportunities this brings to N.C. classrooms. Delve into the history, politics, arts and culture of Latin America and learn about model programs for understanding and supporting Latinx students and families.

Heeding novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s warning about the dangers of hearing only a single story about a person or country, World View’s 2017 Africa seminar will highlight the diversity of lived experiences within the continent of Africa and the interconnectedness of Africa with other nations, including the United States, and North Carolina.

Register for both seminars at worldview.unc.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.

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