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The Friday Report

May 26, 2017

Leading News

NC House Wants to Keep Some Programs Cut In Senate Budget

Full House Budget Expected Next Week

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NC Speaker of the House Tim Moore – photo credit Chris Seward, News & Observer

Some of the cuts in the budget plan that has passed the N.C. Senate aren’t included in a partial budget released by the N.C. House Thursday – setting up negotiations between Republican leaders over the fate of food stamps, the Governor’s School and other programs.

The House isn’t expected to release its full $22.9 billion spending plan until Tuesday. None of the budget documents released Thursday included any details about pay and benefits for teachers and other state employees, or details about tax policy and fee changes.

Budget subcommittees met Thursday morning to discuss spending plans for specific areas of state government, including education, transportation and health and human services.

“Our goal is to set the right priorities and ensure our citizens’ tax dollars are spent wisely in ways that will improve our schools, grow our economy and improve the quality of life for all North Carolinians,” House budget writer Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican, said in a news release.

While Democrats voiced concerns with some provisions in the House, they also had praise for the proposal. “This budget is much, much better than the Senate budget,” said Rep. Verla Insko, a Chapel Hill Democrat.

Governor’s School: The House wants to keep funding the Governor’s School, a high school summer enrichment program that’s more than 50 years old.The Senate called for eliminating state funding for the program after this year and funneling the money to a different summer program, the Legislative School for Leadership and Public Service, and a science program run by the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

Preschool funding: The House includes funding to add slots to a pre-kindergarten program to eliminate its waiting list, a provision that also appears in Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget. The Senate would also add funding to the program with the aim of cutting the waiting list in half.

Textbooks: The House wants $10.4 million more for textbooks and digital materials, bringing the total next year to $65.8 million. The Senate would add $11.1 million.

DPI hires: The House budget adds $921,000 for up to 10 employees that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson would hire. The plan also provides for a new associate superintendent of early education who would report to Johnson. The budget includes $250,000 to support an interagency council on early education. The new associate superintendent would help lead the council. The Senate budget gives Johnson five positions and does not include a new associate superintendent or interagency council.

School funding: The House budget would set up a legislative task force to come up with a new way to fund public schools. The Senate budget does not include the task force.

Class size: The House plan requires a report on the limits on classroom space that would make it hard for schools to meet individual class-size requirements for K-3 grades without building expansions. This is not in the Senate budget.

Vouchers: The House budget requires students using vouchers from the state to attend private schools to take the Iowa Test, a national achievement test. The Senate budget doesn’t have this requirement.

Charter schools: The House would open an avenue for more low-performing schools to be taken over by charter operators. Current law allows takeover of up to five schools statewide. The change is not in the Senate budget.

To continue reading the complete article click here.

Excerpt from: Campbell, C., Jarvis, C., Bonner, L. “NC House wants to keep some programs cut in Senate budget” News & Observer, 5/25/17​

Forum News

This Weekend on Education Matters: Did NC Senate Budget Amendment Target Democratic Districts for Education Cuts? 

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Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram’s district in Northeastern NC took the hardest hit – $316,646 – including cuts to two early college high schools and a STEM program that serves mostly poor students of color.

This week on Education Matters we look at the budget passed by the NC Senate, including key education provisions and a controversial amendment passed at 3 am that appeared to target only Democratic districts for education program cuts. We talk with Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram whose district was hardest hit. We also talk with former NC Senator Howard Lee about the importance of leadership in education. Senator Lee was just recognized by the Public School Forum for his leadership in public education.

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Guests:

  • Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram (D-District 3: Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Tyrrell, Washington)
  • Former Sen. Howard N. Lee

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Former Senator Howard N. Lee

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/

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

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The House’s proposed budget was the big news of the week, and it was released in pieces and parts only through each of the sub-appropriations committees (i.e., Education Appropriations, Health Appropriations, etc.) on Thursday. 
Next week, after the Memorial Day weekend, is when the full House budget will be released, and the House intends to vote and pass its budget bill.  Then, the House and Senate conferees will negotiate through their many differences and ultimately pass the state budget.  This will take weeks (if not longer).
Notably, the education budget plan released Thursday does not include salary increases and school employee benefit changes as those items will be reserved for the full Appropriations Committee next week.  This is a routine practice and not surprising.
Additionally, there is no funding for the 2018-19 class size reduction; this zero-funding mirrors the Senate budget. Instead, the House budget proposes a new report that requires each local board of education to submit the following information in September and February of each school year:
Any limitations on the capacity of school facilities for each school in the local school administrative unit that make it impracticable for the school to meet individual class size requirements for students in kindergarten through third grade without a school facility expansion.
Special Provisions, p. 28; revising enacted HB 13 by amending G.S. 115C-301(f).  This language, especially without the Senate’s “intent-to-fund” the 2018-19 class size reduction provision, could possibly indicate a curiosity among House leadership over further abating the class size reduction.  If this were true, then it would provide much-needed relief on how school systems will be able to comply with the current law on 2018-19 class size reductions.  Keep in mind that these class size reductions carry close to a $300 million price tag on salary costs alone, not including facility/construction costs.
Of the big ticket items in the House’s proposed public education spending plan (“Money Report”), they include the following (not exhaustive lists):
Increases
1. The same $32 million for the estimated student population increase of 9,120 students that is in the Senate budget.
2. Roughly the same $11 million for textbooks and digital materials as in the Senate budget.
3. An increase of $11.3 million to Children with Disabilities (by increasing the cap from 12.5% to 13% per average daily membership) – not in the Senate budget.
4. A new $10 million for a School Business System Modernization Plan – the Senate would fund this at $18.7 million.
5. An increase of $20 million for Opportunity Scholarships; however, an additional $587,000 for the evaluation of these students who would be required to take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
6. After start-up funds in 2017-18, then $6 million in 2018-19 for the Teaching Fellows Program.
Cuts
1. $5 million cut to the Central Office allotment, and a $10 million cut in 2018-19.
2. Several NCDPI positions cut, but up to 10 new positions for the State Superintendent.
3. (No cut to Governor’s School, unlike the Senate’s elimination of the school.)
The House’s proposed policy and state law changes are contained in the Special Provisions, what must be a record at 139 pages this year.  Significantly, these Special Provisions would make a plethora of changes that include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Enacting a school calendar flexibility pilot program.
2. Removing from the state law definition of “low-performing schools” those schools that “meet growth” in student achievement measures.
3. Creating a Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform that mirrors HB 6.
4. Requiring an Arts Education graduation requirement as reflected in HB 97.
5. Changing the name of the “Achievement School District” enacted in 2016 to the “Innovative School District” and expanding the number of eligible “low- performing” schools for that new school district.
6. Requiring Suicide Prevention programming and training for school personnel as in HB 285.
7. (No Personal Education Savings Accounts, as contained in the Senate budget).
In the weeks ahead, check NCDPI’s Financial and Business Services Division for more detailed line item comparisons between the House, Senate and Governor’s budget proposals, especially after the House’s passage of its budget next week, and then as the real budget negotiations ensue.

Public School Forum Programs

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State News

News & Observer and Charlotte Observer Series “Counted Out” Spotlights Plight of Low-Income Children in NC Schools

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Colette Forrest helps her son Bobby Forrest with homework. Forrest feared her gifted son wouldn’t get the push he needs in a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school where most students are poor and score below grade level. Photo credit: Diedra Laird, Charlotte Observer

About this time every year, roughly 5,000 North Carolina 8-year-olds show they’re ready to shine. Despite the obstacles of poverty that hobble so many of their classmates, these third graders from low-income families take their first state exams and score at the top level in math.

With a proper push and support at school, these children could become scientists, engineers and innovators. They offer hope for lifting families out of poverty and making the state more competitive in a high-tech world.

But many of them aren’t getting that opportunity, an investigation by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer reveals. Thousands of low-income children who get “superior” marks on end-of-grade tests aren’t getting an equal shot at advanced classes designed to challenge gifted students.

As they start fourth grade, bright children from low-income families are much more likely to be excluded from the more rigorous classes than their peers from families with higher incomes, the analysis shows. The unequal treatment during the six years ending in 2015 resulted in 9,000 low-income children in North Carolina being counted out of classes that could have opened a new academic world to them.

This occurs in school districts across the state, in rural and urban areas, including the Triangle, which a recent Harvard study ranked as near the bottom of the country in economic mobility, the measure of how difficult it is for children from low-income households to climb out of poverty.

The benefits of rigorous and challenging classes begin early and build over time. The effects are cumulative, since success in earlier grades leads to more opportunities and benefits in later years. Poor students with potential need help the most, and have the most to lose if they fall off the honors track.

“Schools need to see their promise and push them into more rigorous classes early so they aren’t being left behind and left out,” said Keith Poston, executive director of the Raleigh-based Public School Forum of North Carolina, a nonpartisan advocate for better schools.

James Ford, a former North Carolina teacher of the year who is now a Charlotte-based staffer for the Public School Forum of North Carolina, says bright but poor students are held back by an array of systemic barriers, from failure to recognize giftedness in different cultures to a shortage of advanced classes and top teachers in high-poverty schools.

“We tend to teach the way we were taught. I don’t think we’ve shifted our mindset yet,” said Ford, who once taught in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Garinger High. “The majority of kids (in public schools) are kids of poverty. The majority of kids are kids of color. That has never happened before. I don’t think we have properly respected how much that must change our approach to education.”

To continue reading the complete article click here.

Excerpt from: Neff, J., Helms, A. Raynor, D., “Counted Out Series” Charlotte Observer & News & Observer, 5/21-5/24​

State News

NC House Partly Restores Education Money from Senate’s 3 a.m. Cut

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Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram – photo credit Chris Seward News & Observer

The proposed state House budget restores some of the education funding the Senate slated for elimination as part of a 3 a.m. maneuver earlier this month that hit low-income counties.

A piece of the House budget unveiled in the House education subcommittee Thursday restores money for the Eastern North Carolina STEM program, giving it $300,000 next year. The Senate budget would eliminate the money.

The House proposal also makes two early-college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties eligible for extra money. The Senate made those schools ineligible.

The Senate cuts hit education programs in Democratic Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram’s district, and would affect mostly low-income, African-American students.

To continue reading the complete article click here

Excerpt from: Bonner, L. “NC House partly restores education money from Senate’s 3 a.m. cut”, News & Observer, 5/25/17​

Forum News

Video and Photo Gallery:

Howard Lee Honored for Education Leadership

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Senator Howard Lee accepts the 2017 Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award

If you were unable to attend our 2017 Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award Gala on May 18, the full video of the program portion and a photo gallery is now available. The video can be accessed HERE and the photos can be viewed HERE.

Bill Opening Up Career Paths for Teachers Passes Senate Committee

The Senate education committee met Wednesday and gave a favorable vote to Senate Bill 599 which expands the number of options for individuals to become teachers.

The legislation opens up more options for people interested in becoming teachers by allowing organizations outside of colleges or universities to offer educator preparation programs.

It establishes the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission, a governing body made up of teachers and administrators from all levels of the educational system that would make recommendations regarding educator preparation programs to the State Board of Education. The State Board would have the final say on what standards the programs would have to meet and whether or not they meet those standards.

The legislation would also change the process for those in other professions who are interested in teaching. Under the bill, the process typically called “lateral entry” would be changed to “residency licensure.”

Residency licensure would require participants to have some training after being hired by a local school district and before actually teaching in the classroom. After the participant completes those requirements, he or she could begin teaching and begin any educator preparation program.

Under current law, if an individual has a bachelor’s degree and switches to teaching, he or she can be hired and start teaching before they complete coursework and training.

To continue reading the complete article click here

Excerpt from: Granados, A., “Bill opening up career paths for teachers passes Senate committee” EdNC 5/25/17​

Governor’s School Alums Appeal to Keep State Money for the Enrichment Program

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Republican Senator Chad Barefoot – Photo credit News & Observer File Photo

Devoted alumni of a high school summer enrichment program – who don’t want this year’s class to be the last – are flooding state legislators with testimonials on how the experience changed their lives.

The Governor’s School of North Carolina is a program for gifted high school students that has them pursue academic and artistic endeavors for 5 1/2 weeks on a college campus. The program, started by Gov. Terry Sanford, is more than 50 years old and is recognized as the first program of its type in the nation. It will enroll 670 students this summer.

With the school in jeopardy, former students have rallied to save it.

“There’s been an outpouring of support by people who describe it as a life-changing experience,” said Lee Conner, president of The Foundation for the Governor’s School of North Carolina.

A Senate proposal would strip out the $800,000 in state money to run the program in the 2018-19 budget year. The Senate budget would use $600,000 of that money to revive a different summer program, the Legislative School for Leadership and Public Service. The other $200,000 would go to a four-week science, math and engineering residential program run by the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics.

The Legislative School started in 1985 as a three-week residential school for students from rural areas and lasted until 2009. In its later years, it operated as a two-week program at university campuses in the eastern and western ends of the state.Students focused on public speaking and leadership, and some of the sessions focused on ideas found in books such as the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, said Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Wake Forest Republican and an education budget writer. Barefoot said the intent was not to eliminate the Governor’s School, but to expand student leadership and public service opportunities.

The Governor’s School could continue in some form without state funds using the $500 per student tuition students or their districts pay, he said, while “state funding is being used to expand STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and leadership.”

Conner said tuition and private fundraising would not be enough to keep the Governor’s School alive.

To continue reading the complete article click here.

Excerpt from: Bonner, L. “Governor’s School alums appeal to keep state money for the enrichment program” News & Observer, 5/19/17​

UNC System Forging Ahead on K-8 Lab School Project on Two Campuses

UNC’s legislatively-mandated lab-school experiment should yield the opening later this summer of two schools, one in Sylva and the other in Greenville, system administrators reported Thursday (May 18) to a Board of Governors committee.

Western Carolina University and East Carolina University, respectively, will operate them. Western’s school will target grades 6, 7 and 8 and open in Smoky Mountain High School in Sylva. ECU’s will start with grades 2, 3 and 4 and be housed in South Greenville Elementary School, said Sean Bulson, system President Margaret Spellings’ senior adviser for lab schools.

A third university, Appalachian State, is working with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools on the project. It’s looking to open an elementary school but has yet to announce where it’ll be, Bulson said.

Five other universities — N.C. Central University among them — are “still in discussions about partnerships” with low-performing school districts, he said, summarizing progress on an effort the N.C. General Assembly ordered the system to undertake last year, he said.

To continue reading the complete article click here.

Excerpt from: Gronberg, R., “UNC system forging ahead with K-8 lab-school project on two campuses” Durham Herald-Sun, 5/18/17​

National News

Trump Budget Would Slash Education Department Spending, Boost School Choice

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President Donald Trump’s full budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education, released on Tuesday, includes big shifts in funding priorities and makes cuts to spending for teacher development, after-school enrichment, and career and technical education, while ramping up investments in school choice.

A $1 billion cash infusion for Title I’s services for needy children would be earmarked as grants designed to promote public school choice, instead of going out by traditional formulas to school districts. These would be called Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (FOCUS) grants, according to a summary of the department’s budget, that would provide money to school districts using weighted student funding formulas and open enrollment policies.

That would bring Title I grants up to $15.9 billion in all. However, in Trump’s budget, states would lose out on the $550 million increase in formula-based funding that Congress approved in a budget deal earlier this year. Total Title I grants to districts through those formulas would be funded at $14.9 billion in Trump’s proposed budget.

And charter school grants, which currently get $342 million in federal aid, would get nearly a 50 percent increase and get $500 million. Finally, a program originally tailored to research innovative school practices would be retooled to research and promote vouchers, and get a funding boost of $270 million, bringing it up to $370 million.

To continue reading the complete article click here.

Excerpt from: Ujifusa, A. “Trump Budget Would Slash Education Dept. Spending, Boost School Choice” Education Week, 5/23/17​

DeVos Won’t Say Whether She‘d Withold Federal Funds from Schools That Discriminate

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say Wednesday whether she would block private schools that discriminate against LGBT students from receiving federal dollars, explaining that she believes states should have the flexibility to design voucher programs and that parents should be able to choose schools that best fit their children’s needs.

DeVos returned frequently to the theme of what she called a need for more local control in her first appearance before Congress since her rocky confirmation hearing in January.

Fielding questions from members of a House Appropriations subcommittee, she said that states should decide how to address chronic absenteeism, mental health issues and suicide risks among students and that states should also decide whether children taking vouchers are protected by federal special-education law.

Researchers have found that many states allow religious schools that receive taxpayer-funded vouchers to deny admission to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students or children with LGBT parents.

To continue reading the complete article click here.

Excerpt from: Brown, E. “DeVos won’t say whether she’d withhold federal funds from private schools that discriminate” Washington Post 5/24/17

Opportunities

Applications Open for 2017-18 NC Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP)

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The Public School Forum is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 cohort of the North Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).

The Public School Forum has led the North Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program since 1992, and it has continued to be the only statewide program of its kind that focuses on leadership and professional development in the context of education policy. Each new class continues the trend of high caliber participants and is rich in its members’ range of experiences, both professionally and personally. Fellows come from public schools, higher education, community colleges, state agencies, and a diverse array of education organizations across North Carolina. Each class includes a cohort of Fellows who focus on education policy issues and the wide range of factors that influence education in North Carolina. The program is designed for Fellows to learn about issues and perspectives in education that they don’t always encounter in their daily work so that they can be more informed, rounded contributors to the critical education debates that shape the quality and focus of schools. Fellows increase their awareness of how public policy is made, learn whom the key players are in the formation of this policy, and become more confident and involved in the policy-making process. Leadership development is a key focus of the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

Application information for both EPFP Central and EPFP West can be found online at https://www.ncforum.org/education-policy-fellowship-program/.

NCCAT Fall Registration Open

North Carolina educators have plenty of opportunities throughout the fall 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 include:

14458 • ACHIEVING AGAINST THE ODDS: FOCUS ON READING

September 18–21: Cullowhee

Today’s diverse students enter school eager to become successful in classrooms originally designed for culturally homogeneous populations and are expected to learn from teachers who are often not from the same cultural, ethnic/race or social-class. Unsurprisingly, student performance in reading and other subjects is often low while student dropout and teacher burnout rates are high. This program guides participants to explore and document their experiences in motivating at-risk students to become effective readers. In addition to sharing successful strategies for improving reading skills and producing a written narrative, participants will use several technology applications to capture their stories about students who have achieved against the odds and become motivated and skilled readers who excel academically.

14467 • MAKING MATH MEANINGFUL: ENGAGING WITH MATH THROUGH MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES

October 9–12: Cullowhee

Designed for grades K–6 teachers.

Wondering how to engage your students as they explore and develop math understanding and mastery? You can make math meaningful for your students. Come and refresh your understanding of Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) as you engage in activities designed to help connect the ways your students are “smart” to the NC Math Standards. Explore and develop learning strategies to support math mastery as we look at planning for and assessing math standards for your grade level. With ideas for the self-smart and the people-smart, the naturalist, musical, verbal, kinesthetic and visual learners, you’ll leave ready to start your year the MI way! This program is presented by A+ Schools of North Carolina.

14485 • READING, WRITING, AND READY BY THIRD GRADE: EARLY GRADES LITERACY INSTRUCTION

November 13–16: Ocracoke

Literacy instruction is as difficult as it is essential. This program will provide early grades teachers with a complement of research-based tools and strategies to help answer some of their more burning questions: How do I teach close reading to students who don’t yet know the alphabet? What level of writing can I attain from children who are still learning to spell? How do I simultaneously provide enrichment for advanced readers and remediation for delayed readers? How can I integrate reading and writing instruction into all other subject areas? Finally, what does this instruction look like in the classroom and how are student engagement and learning measured in this process?

14489 • GOOGLE TOOLS IN SCHOOLS

December 4–7: Ocracoke

Whether or not your school or district has adopted a Google Chromebook environment, if your LEA infrastructure allows for the use of Google Tools and/or Apps, the “Googlesphere” can be an immense help. It can aid in engaging students, keeping in touch with parents, automating feedback and assessment, sharing documents, and more. Hone your skills with the Google Chrome Browser, with Google Apps, with Android Apps, and with Chrome OS so that you can engage your students using freely available tools on almost any platform.

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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