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The Friday Report

March 24, 2017

Forum News

Howard Lee to Receive Public School Forum of North Carolina’s Annual Education Leadership Award

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Former North Carolina Senator Howard N. Lee was named this week as the recipient of the 2017 Public School Forum of North Carolina Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award. The Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award was established by the Public School Forum in 2000 to recognize leaders who have demonstrated innovative, creative, effective leadership for public education in North Carolina. Lee will be honored at a gala event on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

“Howard Lee has been a leader and a trailblazer his entire life,” said Michael Priddy, Chairman, Public School Forum of North Carolina. “His lifetime of public service in support of children, including serving as our state’s first African-American chairman of the State Board of Education, stands as a shining example of the very best of North Carolina. Howard Lee exemplifies what we look for in selecting our annual award recipient: dedication, leadership and courage.”

Howard Lee may be best known as the first African-American to be elected mayor of a predominantly white southern town since reconstruction. In 1969, he became Mayor of Chapel Hill, an office he would hold for three terms. He was also the first African-American to be a cabinet secretary, as secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, and the first to chair the State Board of Education.

In 1990, Lee was elected to the North Carolina Senate, where he served for 13 years. During his tenure, he held several powerful committee chairmanships; presiding over Education, Transportation and Appropriations Committees. In the North Carolina Senate, Lee built his reputation as a fighter for education reform. He fought for higher teacher salaries, increased funding for public and higher education, and advocated for raising teacher and student standards. In addition, he sponsored or co-sponsored several major pieces of educational legislation which included Smart Start, More at Four (a Pre-kindergarten program), the Excellent Schools Act for school reform, and the Safe Schools Act. In 2003, Lee was elected to the position of Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Education and as a gubernatorial appointment (2005-2009) to the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

To continue reading the complete press release click here.

Information about tickets and sponsorships for this year’s event and previous award recipients can be found at https://www.ncforum.org/events/jay-robinson-education-leadership-award/. Event tickets can be purchased at https://2017jayrobinsonawardgala.eventbrite.com.

If you are interested in discussing a sponsorship, contact Keith Poston at kposton@ncforum.org or call 919-781-6833.

This Weekend on Education Matters: Private School Vouchers – A National Perspective

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This week’s episode of Education Matters takes a national perspective on private school vouchers. 

Richard Kahlenberg, a leading national expert, discusses the push toward privatization in K-12 education and its impact on public education and society as a whole. Richard Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation with expertise in education, civil rights, and equal opportunity.

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 school funding, you can watch it online at 

https://www.ncforum.org/education-matters-focus-on-school-funding/

In This Issue

Howard Lee to Receive Public School Forum of North Carolina’s Annual Education Leadership Award

This Weekend on Education Matters: Private School Vouchers – A National Perspective 

NC Legislative Update

NC Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) Legislative Day

Groups Lobby to Save NC Art, Music, PE, Foreign Language Teachers

More North Carolina Standardized Final Exams Would Go Away in House Bill

Facing Closure, Durham Charter School’s Appeal to be Heard in April

NC’s A-F School Grades Still Aren’t Federally Aligned Without Legislative Changes

Wake County Holds Off On Changes to School Calendars, Start Times

Magnet Schools in Cumberland County Could Provide Options, Retain Students

Do Healthy Lunches Improve Student Test Scores?

NC CAP Annual SYNERGY Conference

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Accepting Applications for Student Science Enrichment Program

Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership Submissions

Public School Forum Programs

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NC Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) was the hot topic at Thursday’s Joint Education Appropriations Committee.  Legislators heard a comprehensive overview of where NC has been in state-funded Pre-K, where we are now, and most importantly, where the state needs to go.  Here are the facts presented:
  • About 29,000 students are enrolled in NC Pre-K;
  • About 67,000 total NC children are eligible for NC Pre-K.
Legislators peppered each other and presenters with a host of questions involving why the General Assembly moved NC Pre-K from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to the Department of Health and Human Services in 2011 (where it resides today); whether there is any “fade out” effect on Pre-K students’ achievement after 3rd grade; what longitudinal studies have been done on NC Pre-K students through middle school and beyond to rebut any “fade out” allegations.  The NC State Board of Education’s position in its 2017 Legislative Agenda was also mentioned: “Transfer Pre-K to DPI and increase Pre-K slots so that more at-risk children receive a high quality education.”  
This year, the NC business community has come out strong with abundant evidence on the return on investment in Early Childhood Education and connections to 3rd grade reading proficiency, among other academic dividends.  NC business leaders have expressly asked for more funded Pre-K slots and a wholesale “doubling-down” on Early Childhood Education.  See a recent Op Ed article from last weekend for more.
Significantly, this week’s Committee marked the end of Joint Education Appropriations Committee presentations for a while.  Now the Chairs will begin their work in earnest on the state’s budget.  The Senate has the opening salvo with its proposed budget which may be unveiled by Easter.

NC Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP)

Legislative Day

Last week, the current NC Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) cohort met with members of the NC General Assembly as part of their annual Legislative Day. Over the course of the year, fellows researched various topics in education policy and presented proposals on their specific topics to NCGA members. Fellows met with Senator Chad Barefoot, Representative Kevin Corbin (pictured with fellows, top), Representative Edward Hanes, Representative Craig Horn (pictured with fellows, middle), Representative Linda Johnson (pictured with fellows, bottom), and Senator Jerry Tillman, along with staff from the office of the Lt. Governor and the office of Senator Phil Berger. 

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State News

Groups Lobby to Save NC Art, Music, PE, Foreign Language Teachers

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Tamika Walker Kelly, a music teacher at Morganton Road Elementary in Fayetteville, speaks about the need to pass House Bill 13 at a news conference Thursday, March 23, 2017, in front on the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

Photo Credit: T. Keung Hui, News & Observer. 

Education groups are increasing pressure on state lawmakers to pass legislation they say is needed to avoid potentially laying off as many as 4,500 art, music, physical education and foreign language teachers.

North Carolina school leaders say they may have to cut art, music, physical education and foreign language classes in elementary schools to help pay for new smaller class sizes in kindergarten through third grade that are supposed to start in July.

The N.C. Association of Educators called on the state Senate Thursday to quickly pass House Bill 13 to provide some relief from the new K-3 class size limits. The bill unanimously passed in the House but has stalled in the Senate.

“Many of our state’s public school teachers are on edge about whether or not they’ll have a job at the end of the school year,” said Mark Jewell, president of NCAE, at a news conference in front of the Legislative Building. “Living with this kind of fear and uncertainty is not productive for educators, and it’s not productive for our students, our public schools and our public school administrators.”

Jewell presented a petition Thursday with more than 5,000 signatures calling for passage of House Bill 13 to the offices of Senate Leader Phil Berger and Sen. Chad Barefoot, co-chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

At issue is how school systems pay for teachers in these special-area courses and how it ties into state class size limits. As part of the state budget adopted last year, maximum individual K-3 class sizes will drop from 24 students to between 19 and 21 students this fall. The maximum average K-3 class sizes for school districts will drop from 21 students to between 16 and 18 students.

House Bill 13 would cap individual K-3 class sizes at 22 to 24 students. Maximum average class sizes would range from 19 to 21 students.

North Carolina doesn’t separately fund specialists such as arts and PE teachers, so school districts pay for them out of state dollars for regular classroom teachers. School officials have said House Bill 13 would provide them with enough flexibility to continue to spread money around to offer the special classes.

After the House quickly moved to pass the legislation in February, it was parked by the Senate in its Rules Committee.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

For further reading, see StarNews article “Schools scramble to meet N.C.’s new class-size rule.”

Excerpt from:

Hui, T. “Groups lobby to save NC art, music, PE, foreign language teachers.” The News & Observer. 3/23/17.

More North Carolina Standardized Final Exams Would Go Away in House Bill

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Some North Carolina legislators are advancing a bill that would eliminate more standardized exams for public school students, many of them in high school.

A House education committee voted Tuesday to get rid of state-created final exams for a host of subjects, leaving it to teachers to create final tests for their students next fall. The measure would leave in place end-of-grade and certain end-of-course tests that federal law requires.

North Wilkesboro Rep. Rick Elmore told his colleagues last week that teachers will still be evaluated on several other measures, which include the remaining standardized tests. Elmore also suggested test scores on the statewide final exams being considered for elimination are not being used well to set statewide policy.

The measure next goes to the full House.

Reprinted from:

Associated Press. “More North Carolina Standardized Final Exams Would Go Away in House Bill.” 3/21/17.

Facing Closure, Durham Charter School’s Appeal to be Heard in April

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Leaders at Kestrel Heights charter school in Durham are getting one last chance to try to convince state officials to keep their high school open.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously earlier this month to close the high school this summer as punishment for giving unearned diplomas to 40 percent of its students in the past eight years.

Kestrel Heights appealed the decision, forcing the state to take another look. A state board review panel will hold a public meeting April 4 at 9:30 a.m. in Raleigh to hear from the school.

Leaders from Kestrel Heights, as well as officials with the state’s Office of Charter Schools, will each get 45 minutes to make presentations to the review panel. The panel will go into closed session and then make a recommendation about the school’s future.

The full State Board of Education will consider the recommendation and take a final vote at its meetings on April 5 and 6.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hinchcliffe, K. “Facing closure, Durham charter school’s appeal to be heard in April.” WRAL. 3/21/17.

NC’s A-F School Grades Still Aren’t Federally Aligned Without Legislative Changes

You may have seen headlines lately about how U.S. lawmakers have voted to ease school accountability reporting requirements for states by nixing the Obama administration’s regulations that were written to help states comply with the federal law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

But if you thought that meant North Carolina’s A-F school grading system in its current form wouldn’t have to be amended after all in order to be federally compliant—well, you’re wrong, according to the NC Department of Public Instruction’s director for federal policy, Lou Fabrizio. “We will have to either amend the A-F school grades legislation or have two separate accountability systems,” in order to comply with federal law as set forth last year in ESSA.

In addition to Congress’ vote earlier this month to rescind the accountability reporting rules, Education Week reports that the U.S. Department of Education also “reduced what states must report to the federal government about their plans for holding schools accountable.”

These two actions mean that states will have an easier time putting together the plans they must submit to the federal government demonstrating what they will do to ensure schools are compliant with federal law when it comes to accountability.

But Fabrizio says none of what has transpired at the federal level actually changes the provisions in the law that require a state accountability system to meet certain standards—and North Carolina’s current accountability model, the controversial A-F school grading system, doesn’t meet those federal standards.

Here’s what’s missing:

  • a measure of progress in terms of how schools are helping English language learners achieve proficiency in English; and
  • a measure of school quality and student success (examples include student and educator engagement, access and completion of advanced coursework, postsecondary readiness, school climate and safety).

To continue reading the complete article click here.

For more background on NC’s A-F School Grades and ESSA, view Lindsay Wagner’s December 2016 article here.

Excerpt from:
Wagner, L. “Despite vote to rescind federal school accountability reporting requirements, NC’s A-F school grades still won’t be federally aligned without legislative changes.” The A.J. Fletcher Foundation. 3/21/17.

Wake County Holds Off On Changes to School Calendars, Start Times

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Darren Geraci speaks with a kindergarten class in the computer lab at Apex Elementary in Apex, N.C. on Sept. 16, 2015. Wake County school administrators said moving Apex Elementary’s start time from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. would help with bus service for other Apex area schools. Photo Credit: Chuck Liddy, News & Observer.

Amid passionate pleas from parents, the Wake County school board postponed Tuesday plans to change the calendars for eight schools and the school start times at five other schools.

Families at all 13 schools had opposed the changes on the school district’s discussion forum with several speakers coming to the board meeting. School board members responded Tuesday by delaying the vote on the bell schedule changes to April 4 and sending the calendar changes back to a board committee.

“Several board members had unresolved questions,” said school board Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler. “They didn’t want to vote until the questions were resolved.”

Administrators had proposed that East Wake and North Garner middle schools and Carver, Lockhart, Rand Road and Vance elementary schools convert to a traditional calendar in the 2018-19 school year. Lake Myra and Timber Drive elementary schools were proposed to switch to a multi-track year-round calendar.

Administrators said the changes are designed to make sure schools are efficiently balanced to reduce the number of overcrowded and under-utilized schools.

Some Rand Road parents argued against the proposal, citing the benefits of the periodic three-week breaks in the year-round schedule. “Please, please listen to our voices and keep Rand Road on a track 4 schedule,” said Colleen Roby, a Rand Road parent.

Now the issue will be reviewed again by the school board’s student achievement committee. 

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, T. “Wake County holds off on changes to school calendars, start times.” The News & Observer. 3/21/17.

Magnet Schools in Cumberland County Could Provide Options, Retain Students

Cumberland County Schools’ plan seeking money to bring magnet schools to the area is rooted in more than just expanding educational opportunities for children. It’s about keeping students, too.

The school district is applying for a Magnet Schools Assistance grant through the U.S. Department of Education with hopes of turning four campuses into magnet schools: E.E. Miller, William H. Owen and Montclair elementary schools, and Anne Chesnutt Middle School. Magnet schools, formed out of a 1960s protest to promote school integration and improve the quality of the nation’s educational system, offer diverse, specialized curriculum for students.

Today, there are roughly 4,340 magnet schools nationwide featuring specialized theme-based curriculum in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM; fine and performing arts; and International Studies, according to Magnet Schools of America’s website.

Cumberland County doesn’t have a magnet school program. E.E. Miller, William H. Owen and Anne Chesnutt were chosen as potential sites because they offer “Choice Programs,” a variety of special interests such as arts, languages and math taught throughout all subjects. Montclair is not part of the Choice Program but will join them when it begins offering Spanish dual-language immersion in kindergarten in 2017-18. Grades will be added to the program with each following school year.

Cumberland County Schools has noticed parents opting out of sending their children to schools within the district. Instead, they are choosing private schools — with the help of vouchers to pay for tuition — and charter schools. “We’ve been impacted by the vouchers for about three years,” Superintendent Frank Till Jr. said of his roughly 51,000 students. “We’re maintaining enrollment, but we haven’t grown. They’re going to religious schools on the vouchers.”

This academic year, 682 students within the school system were approved for voucher scholarships, said Clyde Locklear, the associate superintendent for business operations.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Banks, A. “Magnet schools in Cumberland County could provide options, retain students.” The Fayetteville Observer. 3/20/17.

National News

Do Healthy Lunches Improve Student Test Scores?

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For more than a decade, standardized-test scores have been the dominant metric for measuring what public-school students know and are able to do. No Child Left Behind, the sweeping federal education law enacted in 2002, ushered in a new era of student testing and school compliance. And in the years that followed—to meet targets and avoid sanctions—education leaders at the local and state levels have sought a variety of ways to boost students’ performance on tests, including extending the school day and giving bonus pay to teachers based on students’ test scores. Even less conventional methods, such as banning cell phones and offering yoga-like exercises, emerged as school administrators pursued the holy grail of high standardized-test scores.

But according to a new study, there’s one option that may have been overlooked: the ubiquitous school lunch. As detailed in a recent paper, economists set out to determine whether healthier school lunches affect student achievement as measured by test scores. The intense policy interest in improving the nutritional content of public-school meals—in addition to vendors’ efforts to market their school meals as good for the body and the mind—sparked the researchers’ curiosity and led to an unexpected discovery: Students at schools that contract with a healthier school-lunch vendor perform somewhat better on state tests—and this option appears highly cost-effective compared to policy interventions that typically are more expensive, like class-size reduction.

“When school boards are going out and contracting with these vendors, what they’re thinking is that they’re going to improve the health of the students, that they’ll get them to eat healthier. I don’t think they’re thinking of it as a tool to actually improve academic performance [but] we found that it is,” said Michael L. Anderson, an associate professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the study’s co-authors. “Something that is basically cheap, that is going to improve student health, and that has test-score gains seems like it would be very attractive [to] policymakers.”

According to Anderson, who spoke as school meals received renewed attention due to President Trump’s proposed budget, this is the first large-scale study to examine how the overall nutritional quality of school meals affects student test-score achievement. In 2010, as part of a push to combat childhood obesity, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed, resulting in more rigorous nutrition standards for school cafeterias. There is a body of recent literature that suggested a link between school meals and student test scores, but that research focused on improving access rather than the meals’ nutritional value.

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

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.

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.

Public School Forum of North Carolina

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