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The Friday Report

March 17, 2017

State News

Trump Proposes Deep Cuts in Teacher Training, Afterschool Programs, Boosts Private School Vouchers and Charters

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The Trump administration is seeking to cut $9.2 billion — or 13.5 percent — from the Education Department’s budget, a dramatic downsizing that would reduce or eliminate grants for teacher training, after-school programs and aid to ­low-income and first-generation college students.

Along with the cuts, among the steepest the agency has ever sustained, the administration is also proposing to shift $1.4 billion toward one of President Trump’s key priorities: Expanding charter schools, private-school vouchers and other alternatives to traditional public schools. His $59 billion education budget for 2018 would include an unprecedented federal investment in such “school choice” initiatives, signaling a push to reshape K-12 education in America.

The president is proposing a $168 million increase for charter schools — 50 percent above the current level — and a new $250 million private-school choice program, which would probably provide vouchers for families to use at private or parochial schools. Vouchers are one of the most polarizing issues in education, drawing fierce resistance from Democrats and some Republicans, particularly those in rural states.

Trump also wants an additional $1 billion for Title I, a $15 billion grant program for schools with high concentrations of poor children. The new funds would be used to encourage districts to adopt a controversial form of choice: Allowing local, state and federal funds to follow children to whichever public school they choose.

That policy, known as “portability,” was rejected in the Republican-led Senate during deliberations over the main K-12 education law in 2015. Many Democrats see portability as the first step toward federal vouchers for private schools and argue that it would siphon dollars from schools with high poverty and profound needs to those in more affluent neighborhoods.

The slim budget summary released Thursday frames the new spending as the first step toward meeting Trump’s campaign pledge to invest $20 billion in school-choice initiatives. The document makes no mention of another policy Trump is expected to promote through a tax bill: a new tax credit for donations to private-school scholarships.

The budget summary also is silent on the department’s Office for Civil Rights, which many in the civil rights community fear will be targeted for deep cuts.

A host of programs aimed at ­low-income students are slated for cuts. Federal work-study funds that help students work their way through college would be reduced “significantly.” The proposal also calls for nearly $200 million in cuts to federal TRIO and Gear Up programs, which help disadvantaged students in middle and high schools prepare for college.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

To read more about Trump’s proposed budget, see “Trump Budget Would Make Massive Cuts to Ed. Dept., But Boost School Choice” from Education Week.

Excerpt from:

Brown, E. and Douglas-Gabriel, D. “Trump seeks to slash Education Department but make big push for school choice.” The Washington Post. 3/16/17.

Forum News

This Weekend on Education Matters: Focus on School Funding

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This week’s episode of Education Matters focuses on school funding. 

Will more than 5,000 art, music and PE teachers across NC lose their jobs this fall? They will according to school leaders if the NC General Assembly doesn’t act soon to address issues created by the hard K-3 class size cap included in last year’s budget. We also discuss the push to overhaul the state’s school funding system.

Guests Include:

  • Katherine Joyce, Executive Director, NC Association of School Administrators
  • Dr. Tim Markley, Superintendent, New Hanover County Schools
  • Kris Nordstrom, Policy Analyst, Education & Law Project, NC Justice Center

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When and Where to Watch Education Matters

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

Sundays at 6:30 AM and Mondays at 3:00 PM, UNC-TV’s NC Channel (Statewide)

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

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

If you missed last week’s episode on newsmakers and newsbreakers, you can watch it online at 

https://www.ncforum.org/education-matters-newsmakers-and-newsbreakers/

In This Issue

Trump Proposes Deep Cuts in Teacher Training, Afterschool Programs, Boosts Private School Vouchers and Charters

This Weekend on Education Matters: Focus on School Funding

NC Legislative Update

Cooper’s First State of the State Address Centers on Education

House Eyes Changes to Exams, Teachers, School Grades

President/CEO of Communities in Schools to Lead the New Achievement School District

Why the Class Size Average Cannot Equal the Teacher Allotment Ratio

Two Popular Charter Schools Want to Increase Student Diversity. Here’s Their Strategy.

Poverty, Federal Cuts to Care Temper Progress in Children’s Health

Trump Education Dept. Releases New ESSA Guidelines

A-F School Rankings Draw Local Pushback

NC CAP Annual SYNERGY Conference

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for Student Science Enrichment Program

Position Opening for Program Director of the Master of Arts in Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (MEITE) at UNC-CH

Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership Submissions

Public School Forum Programs

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State News

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“An Act to Reestablish the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program” is the long title of SB 252/HB 339. With a near record number of legislators, both Republican and Democrat, both House and Senate, signing on as co-sponsors, this legislation filed on Tuesday, March 14, has one of the strongest out-of-the-gate showings of bipartisan and bicameral support – a unique attribute among the standard fare of education bills in recent history, and deservedly so for a teacher recruitment program rooted in the original nationally-acclaimed NC Teaching Fellows Program.

The legislation would establish the “North Carolina Teaching Fellows Commission” under Chapter 116 (higher education statutes), Article 23 (state education assistance statutes), under a new Part 3, “North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program” (Program). This Commission would consist of fourteen members appointed by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina and the General Assembly, where the latter appoints two members who are school of education deans from private colleges or universities in the state. Other members would include teachers, principals, a superintendent, among others. This new Program would be administered by the General Administration of The University of North Carolina, in conjunction with the State Education Assistance Authority and the Commission.

The purpose of the Program is to recruit, prepare, and support students residing in or attending institutions of higher education in North Carolina for preparation as STEM or special education teachers in North Carolina public schools. In the bill, public schools are defined as traditional public schools, charter schools, regional public schools, and UNC lab schools. Only five institutions of higher education can be selected under the bill. Students selected to receive the awards of forgivable loans for up to $8,250 per year will be eligible North Carolina high school seniors, college students transferring or changing to enrollment in one of the selected educator preparation programs, and individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree seeking to prepare for teacher licensure. These forgivable loans may be used for tuition, fees, and the cost of books.

These new Teaching Fellows will have their loans forgiven if, within 10 years after graduation, the student serves as a public school teacher in a STEM or special education licensure area for every year the teacher was awarded the forgivable loan as follows, with some exceptions: 1) a 1:1 exchange for each year taught at a low-performing public school; or 2) a 1:2 exchange for each year taught at a non-low-performing public school (e.g., for each year of the loan, the teacher teaches two years to have the loan forgiven).

The first set of forgivable loans would be issued by April 1, 2018, for the 2018-19 academic year. Six million dollars, in recurring funds, would be set aside for that school year for the Program. The Act would become effective July 1, 2017, if passed and signed into law.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina administered the prior Teaching Fellows Program which was created in 1986. For a detailed report from the Forum, please read, “A legacy of inspired educators: A Report on the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program 1986-2015.

Cooper’s First State of the State Address Centers on Education

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In his first State of the State address Monday night, Governor Roy Cooper reached out to lawmakers to find a mutual vision on a unifying cause: the state’s children.

“When I’m recruiting a business to come here — to your legislative districts—the first thing they ask is whether North Carolina has the workers skilled enough to fill the jobs they create,” Cooper said to General Assembly members, state Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet members, the Council of State, and special guests. “Improving education is an area where we can find common ground. We have to measure our progress and hold ourselves accountable,” he said.

Cooper touted his proposal, called, “Making NC a Top Ten Educated State,” which outlines a five percent average teacher salary raise over the next two years, the addition of 4,700 N.C. Pre-K slots, and $30 million for classroom and digital materials. “As our children move from early childhood to grade school, we entrust our teachers with their futures every single day,” he said. “Let’s put our money where our trust is and raise teacher salaries.”

Cooper said his raises would put the state’s average teacher salary at first in the Southeast in three years and equal to the national average in five years. He also mentioned his proposed $150 annual stipend to help with classroom supplies. He introduced Jasmine Lauer, a Wake County teacher, who Cooper said has to buy online books for students out of her own pocket. “Jasmine represents so many selfless teachers who want their students to have what they need,” he said.

There are other points of agreement between the governor’s agenda and the Republican-led legislature on education. Besides raising teacher and administrator pay, both have shown support for early childhood education.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Bell, L. “Cooper’s first State of the State address centers on education.” EducationNC. 3/14/17.

House Eyes Changes to Exams, Teachers, School Grades

House lawmakers are moving ahead with several bills aimed at easing testing and other requirements for teachers in North Carolina, including a proposal to eliminate statewide final exams.

One measure that passed the House K-12 Education Committee on Tuesday would change the formula used to calculate school letter grades. Under current law, the score is based 80 percent on schools’ student proficiency on standardized tests and 20 percent on year-over-year student growth. House Bill 322 would change the formula to 50/50.

“In my view, education is growth,” said sponsor Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union. “Proficiency rewards schools for the students they take in, but not necessarily for how well they teach students.”

Rep. Debra Conrad, R-Forsyth, argued that the emphasis should remain on how well students perform at grade level. “We want to keep the bar high and encourage the teachers that this is our goal,” Conrad said. “You do want children to grow, but you don’t want to mask the fact that they’re not reaching grade level.” 

Conrad, a committee co-chair, was the lone no vote as the bill passed on a voice vote.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Leslie, L.”House eyes changes to exams, teachers, school grades.” WRAL. 3/14/17.

President/CEO of Communities in Schools to Lead the New Achievement School District

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In a conference call meeting Thursday, the State Board of Education hired Dr. Eric Hall, president and CEO of Communities In Schools of North Carolina, to lead the new NC Achievement School District.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey announced the hiring. “We are extremely pleased that Dr. Hall will lead this new initiative,” he said. “His success in working with students at risk and schools with high percentages of at-risk students will only benefit the new Achievement School District. His proven ability to build partnerships will help this effort be successful.”

“North Carolina schools will benefit from Dr. Hall’s passion for students, teachers and building community partnerships,” said NC Superintendent Mark Johnson. “Eric’s career focus has been centered on helping schools and students overcome challenges, and his leadership will be important in the years ahead.”

Hall has more than 20 years of experience in education, most recently with Communities In Schools, a statewide non-profit network that provides integrated student supports – also called wraparound services – to support student success in more than 300 schools statewide. The organization is known for its ability to reduce dropout rates in at-risk students.

Hall previously served as the National Director of Educational Services for AMIkids Inc., a non-profit organization providing intervention services to youth in juvenile justice programs and non-traditional schools in nine states. While at AMIkids, Hall developed and implemented strategies designed to accelerate student academic achievement in nontraditional settings. In his various leadership roles, Hall also built community partnerships and developed collaborative relationships between business and education to foster awareness and drive engagement to amplify student outcomes for all students.

Hall began his career as a teacher, then moved into school leadership before helping lead the implementation of education innovations, in Florida as well as in other states.

Hall holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Science Education, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of South Florida. His passion for student equity, innovation in non-traditional schools and school leadership are all topics that he has researched and written on for publication in academic journals and books.

A member of the NCWorks Commission’s executive committee, Hall also serves on the State Board of Education’s Whole Child NC Committee.

For more on Eric Hall, see the News & Observer article “Non-profit education leader chosen to oversee collection of low-performing schools.”

Reprinted from:
NCDPI. “President/CEO of Communities in Schools to Lead the new Achievement School District.” 3/16/17.

Why the Class Size Average Cannot Equal the Teacher Allotment Ratio

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There has been a lot of discussion recently concerning how school districts use their guaranteed classroom teacher allotments. The state sends out classroom teacher positions that are calculated based on the number of students in each grade. School districts use the allotted teacher positions to employ the teachers needed to offer the standard courses required by the N.C. State Board of Education. The state Senate has expressed concern that the allotted positions for grades K-3 are not being utilized in grades K-3 but are being used elsewhere within the school district or in central office for administration. The conversation relates to legislation (Section 8.33.(b) of S.L 2016-94) which requires the average class size in grades K-3 to equal the teacher allotment ratio starting in FY 2017-18.

School districts are concerned that equalizing the classroom teacher allotment and class size requirement will create two problems.:

  1. The teacher allotment will not be sufficient for covering all core courses required by the North Carolina State Board of Education.
  2. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) will not have flexibility to hire teachers for subjects such as art, music, and physical education (P.E.) using state funds. The specialized teachers are often referred to as enhancement teachers.

It is common knowledge that you cannot expect class sizes to be the same as the teacher allotment ratio. This is a concern apart from the need to have enough positions to cover art, music, or P.E. Students do not enroll in each elementary school in tidy even units that would generate the exact number of teachers needed. A school with 45 third graders will need three teachers to cover the students although the formula would generate only 2.5 teachers (rounded to the nearest half).

Below is an oversimplified example as to why you must allocate the guaranteed teachers at an allotment ratio lower than the required class size ratio. In this oversimplified example, the school district would be short two core-subject teaching positions. The allotment ratio would need to be 1:16.5 in kindergarten to meet the required class size of 1:18. The second-grade allotment ratio would need to be 1:15.5 to meet the required class size of 1:17. The need to have lower allotment ratios than the class size requirement becomes even more obvious when you include more schools in the calculation.

Therefore, the argument that the average class size in grades K-3 must be the allotment ratio does not work even to cover the core K-3 classes (before you address the need for enhancement teachers).

Two Popular Charter Schools Want to Increase Student Diversity. Here’s Their Strategy.

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Charlotte Lab School touts its uptown location as an extended classroom.

Photo Credit: John D. Simmons, The Charlotte Observer.

Community School of Davidson and Charlotte Lab School both have strong demand, good reputations and successful students. What more could these two charter schools want?

Diversity.

Both schools, which are majority white and have low poverty levels, have opted to reserve seats for low-income students next school year. Their leaders say that’s not an act of charity but a strategy to help all their students – though they realize they may catch heat when more affluent families land on the waiting list.

“This isn’t about saving anybody or helping anybody,” said Charlotte Lab School founder Mary Moss Brown. “We don’t want to be a school where there are handouts and assumptions made.”

School diversity – or the lack of it, which is often dubbed resegregation – is a hot topic in Mecklenburg County and across North Carolina. Both founders say they see their charter schools as taking a stand in the broader discussion.

“We are passionate about the notion of socioeconomic integration in education,” said Community School of Davidson founder Joy Warner.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Helms, A. “Two popular area charter schools want to increase student diversity. Here’s their strategy.” The Charlotte Observer. 3/12/17.

Poverty, Federal Cuts to Care Temper Progress in Children’s Health

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The foundation for lifelong health is laid during the early years. In order for children to enjoy their best health during adulthood they need a healthy start in life, routine preventive care, and homes and communities equipped with the resources that support healthy lifestyles.

The latest North Carolina Child Health Report Card finds two bookends for child health in North Carolina. There’s good news in the report: we’ve made impressive gains in a key area that promotes child health. Yet the report also finds North Carolina’s failure to address a significant public health challenge has limited other progress. In both cases, good and bad, it’s clear that public policy decisions have a dramatic impact on the lives of our state’s children.

Where are we doing well?

A historic percentage of North Carolina children have health insurance coverage, which is an essential first step on the road to enabling children to access preventive and medical care that promotes good health. Since 2009, the percentage of uninsured children in North Carolina has declined by half to reach a record low of 4 percent.

Children’s health insurance coverage is strengthened by Medicaid, NC Health Choice– the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program–as well as the Affordable Care Act. Together, these programs complement private market participation and increase insurance coverage to 96 percent of all children in North Carolina. The majority of all children in the state (53 percent) receive their coverage through Medicaid and NC Health Choice which are federally funded programs that are administered at the state level.

Congress is currently pursuing changes to the Medicaid program that would radically restructure it by capping the amount of money available to states. If enacted, previous estimates have shown these changes could reverse improvements in children’s health insurance coverage and result in North Carolina children losing their insurance coverage.

The consequences of the federal debate about health reform could be especially dire for children with special needs and disabilities, who compose nearly one in every five children in the state (17.2 percent).* A capped Medicaid program would eliminate or weaken the long-standing guarantee that all children enrolled in Medicaid receive medically-necessary screenings and treatments, even expensive (and life-saving) services for medically-fragile children. The federal government facilitated state compliance with this provision by providing matching funds for needed services. If the current bill passes and funding to states is capped, North Carolina will lack the financial resources to pay for needed services and treatments, leaving the most vulnerable children exposed to deep cuts in health care.

Where can we improve?

North Carolina received an ‘F’ for economic security. This is the first time since 2010 that the data for a measure was so severe that it earned the lowest possible grade from our panel of health experts. Half of all children in North Carolina (48 percent), and more than half of the youngest children in our state (55 percent), live in poor or near poor homes. When we examine the data by race and ethnicity the findings are shocking: more than two-thirds of our African-American children and three-quarters of our Hispanic or Latinx children live in homes that experience significant barriers to good health.

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Income influences health status and outcomes. The greater one’s income, the lower the likelihood of disease or even premature death. Children in poverty are more than nine times as likely to be in fair or poor health than their peers who lives in homes with incomes greater than 400 percent of the federal poverty line. Research also finds that differences in income contribute to the alarming racial and ethnic disparities we observe in many of the other indicators in this year’s report.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Bell, L. “Poverty, federal cuts to care temper progress in children’s health.” EducationNC. 3/16/17.

National News

Trump Education Dept. Releases New ESSA Guidelines

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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Monday released a new application for states to use in developing their accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act.

And, as you might expect, it is shorter and includes fewer requirements than an earlier application released by the Obama administration in November. The biggest difference seems to be on the requirements for outreach to various groups of educators and advocates. More below.

DeVos said the template will allow states and districts to implement the law with “maximum flexibility” as Congress intended.

“We know each school district is unique,” DeVos said in a speech in Washington Monday to the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents urban superintendents. “It’s fairly obvious that the challenges and opportunities of Albuquerque and Wichita don’t look the same. But neither do Miami and Palm Beach. No two schools are identical, just like no two students are alike. We shouldn’t assume the same answer will work for everyone, every time. Too often the Department of Education has gone outside its established authority and created roadblocks, wittingly or unwittingly for parents and educators alike. This isn’t right, nor is it acceptable. Under this administration, we will break this habit.”

But ESSA’s top Democratic architects—Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., were really unhappy with the template, especially the lack of a requirement to reach out to parents, educators, and advocates.

“We are disappointed that Secretary DeVos is casting aside input from teachers, parents and stakeholders and is refusing to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act as Congress intended,” said Murray and Scott said in a statement. “Without the strong federal guardrails ESSA puts in place—including requirements for stakeholder consultation and a common state plan—decision making becomes less transparent and puts our most vulnerable children at risk of falling through the cracks.”

The National Governors’ Association, the National PTA, and the American Federation of Teachers also expressed dismay over the scaled down importance of input from the education community.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

A-F School Rankings Draw Local Pushback

As states overhaul their accountability systems under the new federal K-12 law, officials in some are pushing to replace or revamp A-F grading for schools, which supporters tout as an easy way to convey to the public how schools stack up.

In recent years, at least 18 states have adopted some version of a system that relies mostly on standardized-test scores and graduation rates to generate letter-grade report cards, similar to the ones students receive throughout the school year. Legislation is pending in a handful of states to join that group.

But in some states that already have them, A-F systems have received fierce backlash from local superintendents and school board members. They complain that the letter grades oversimplify student success or shortfalls, increase pressure to pay attention to tests, ignore school quality factors other than test scores, and demoralize teachers and parents.

Local officials in at least four states are using this year’s window of opportunity provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act to push back against A-F systems. ESSA, which goes into full effect for the 2017-18 school year, requires states to change several components of their accountability systems, including the measures states must use to calculate rankings and how often they report rankings to the public.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Burnette, D. “A-F School Rankings Draw Local Pushback.” Education Week. 3/7/17.

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.

Position Opening for Program Director of the Master of Arts in Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (MEITE) at UNC-CH

The UNC Chapel Hill School of Education (SOE) seeks an experienced professional to serve as the first Program Director of the Master of Arts in Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (MEITE; www.meite.info), at the rank of Clinical Assistant or Associate Professor. The position begins July 1, 2017. The appointment is for a one-year term, with potential to renew for additional terms.

Additional details can be found online at https://unc.peopleadmin.com/postings/115437. Applications are due by March 24, 2017.

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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