GOP’s Mark Johnson Defeats Incumbent June Atkinson in State Superintendent Race

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Republican Mark Johnson (foreground) greets voters outside of the polling place at Mount Tabor High School on Tuesday. Photo Credit: David Rolfe, Winston-Salem Journal.

With more than 99 percent of North Carolina’s precincts reporting, it appears as if Forsyth County Republican Mark Johnson has upset Democratic incumbent June Atkinson in the race for state superintendent of public instruction.

Johnson, a relative political newcomer, appeared to squeak out a win with 50.6 percent of the vote, but a handful of precincts across the state hadn’t finished their tallies.

This election was Johnson’s first statewide race. He was first elected to public office two years ago when he won a seat on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education.

“I am both humbled and inspired by the choice North Carolinians made in the superintendent race,” Johnson said Tuesday night. “I want to extend sincere and gracious thanks for their vote of confidence in me and their shared belief that more of the same for our schools, our teachers and our children is not the only option for North Carolina education.”

Johnson decided to run for state superintendent after joining the school board and realizing that many of the problems he ran to solve had to be dealt with at the state level. That frustration over lack of local control led him to run against Atkinson, Johnson said. He has made testing reform, the replacement of Common Core academic standards and increasing technology in classrooms major parts of his platform.

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This Weekend on Education Matters: After Hurricane Matthew

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This week’s episode of Education Matters, the Forum’s weekly television program airing on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on WRAL-TV, goes to eastern North Carolina to see firsthand how NC public schools are recovering from Hurricane Matthew.

Three weeks after Hurricane Matthew devastated parts of Eastern NC with historic flooding, Robeson County students returned to class, the last school system to reopen. Education Matters visits Lumberton this week and talks with school leaders about the impact, response and what’s left to do.
This week’s show features the following guests:
  • Superintendent Tommy Lowry, Public Schools of Robeson County
  • Tara Bullard, Principal, West Lumberton Elementary
  • Ben Matthews, Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Operations, NC Department of Public Instruction
  • Liz Bell, Researcher/Reporter, Education NC

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Previous episodes of the show have covered NC’s teacher pipeline, declining school resources, expanding educational opportunityteacher pay, and school finance.

Each Education Matters show profiles a education leader that is making a difference in his or her community. Do you have a great leader in your local school? Nominate them today! We are seeking leaders who make a difference in their school each and every day. To nominate an education leader, please fill out the form here.
The show will continue running on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. through mid-November. It will move to its permanent time slot, Saturdays at 7:30 PM, beginning November 26, 2016. Education Matters is available online on the Forum website and on wral.com by searching for Education Matters.

In This Issue

GOP’s Mark Johnson Defeats Incumbent June Atkinson in State Superintendent Race

This Weekend on Education Matters: After Hurricane Matthew

Donald Trump and the Future of Education

CMS Attacks Economic Segregation in Schools with Board’s New Magnet Plan

Massachusetts Charters, Georgia School Takeovers: Voters Decide Four Education Ballot Questions

Rep. Virginia Foxx Will Seek to Lead House Education Committee

New Campaign Promotes Power of Teachers to Reduce Stress of Traumatized Students

Exhausted, Unhappy, Underpaid: Inside the ‘other reasons’ NC teachers leave

The US Charter Movement Should Learn from England’s Academy System

A Virtual Mess: Inside Colorado’s Largest Online Charter School

Applications Open for 2017-18 Kenan Fellowships

NC Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center Seeks Award Nominations

Visit NC School of Science and Mathematics for a Day of Demonstrations & Inspiration 

Public School Forum Programs

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Donald Trump and the Future of Education

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Donald Trump visited a school in Las Vegas during a campaign stop in October. Photo Credit: Mike Segar, Reuters.

By Emily Durey

I’ll be honest; I’d pre-written a piece on what a Clinton presidency might mean for education. The polls pointed in her direction and she’s been talking about children and schools for years, meaning there was plenty to mull. I’d interviewed a number of both conservative and liberal education wonks who had a general idea of what to expect and a relatively uniform belief that she would work across the aisle.

Now, what happens education-wise under Donald Trump’s administration is unclear.

What he’s said on the campaign trail about schools and students obviously won’t transfer directly into policy, but his words offer clues. Will Trump shutter the U.S. Education Department entirely, as he’s suggested? That seems highly unlikely, but there’s a very real chance he’ll scale back its scope drastically. Looking at the big picture, with Republicans controlling the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives, more decision-making power is likely to be transferred back to states and local governments. And Trump is likely to push what he’s called a “market-driven” approach to education. That makes civil-rights groups and many Democrats who see the federal government as something of a safety net for vulnerable low-income students and children of color nervous.

Last year, when Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a new version of the nation’s federal K-12 education law, it returned a significant amount of authority to the states. The Obama administration had sought to retain some control as it hammered out how the law would be implemented by issuing regulations telling states, for instance, that federal money allocated to the education of poor students had to supplement and not replace local dollars. The regulations angered both Republicans and teachers’ unions on the left. The Obama administration has seen the Education Department as a critical watchdog when it comes to making sure students’ civil rights are protected. But Republicans and unions have balked at what they see as a department that has far overstepped its authority. The chance that a Trump administration backs the regulations the current Education Secretary John King and his team are developing now seems shaky.

But there are other elements of U.S. education policy that are likely to remain relatively entrenched. Perhaps Trump’s most oft-quoted education promise on the campaign trail was a pledge to “repeal” Common Core. That’s not actually possible, though, because Common Core is not a federal policy but a set of standards states have adopted for what students at each grade level should be able to do, and the federal government doesn’t dictate those. More than 40 states have adopted the standards, and the idea that they will suddenly abandon them is not realistic.

One area where the Trump administration could make changes, and where officials might use the muscle of the Education Department, is in expanding the use of vouchers that would let students use federal money to attend the schools of their choice, be they charters, private or parochial schools, magnet programs, or traditional public schools. Trump has proposed $20 billion to move that idea forward. Whether it becomes a reality is obviously unclear, but with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate, there’s a good chance some sort of federally backed voucher program could move forward.

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Excerpt from:

Durey, E. “Donald Trump and the Future of Education.” The Atlantic. 11/9/16.

CMS Attacks Economic Segregation in Schools with Board’s New Magnet Plan

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Students hold signs related to student assignment at Wednesday’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board meeting.

Photo Credit: Diedra Laird, The Charlotte Observer. 

After more than a year of wrangling and drama, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board came together Wednesday on a new diversity-driven magnet plan designed to chip away at economic segregation in schools.

The immediate impact of the board’s unanimous vote is more symbolic than sweeping. There won’t be massive upheaval: other than a few magnet programs changing locations, no one will be forced to switch schools. The new priorities for magnet seating, based on a complex socioeconomic status calculation, affect only students applying to enter magnet programs, not those who are already there.

“It’s taking a baby step,” board Chair Mary McCray said before the meeting. “There’s not going to be much movement the first year.”

But Wednesday’s decision shows the board has unified across political, philosophical, racial and geographic lines to start dismantling the concentrations of poor and nonwhite students that have earned CMS a national reputation as a city of resegregation – and that board members agree can make it harder for students and faculty to thrive.

“It’s not going to immediately solve all the problems of unequal opportunity … but it gives us a very solid start,” Vice Chair Elyse Dashew said.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Helms, A. “CMS attacks economic segregation in schools with board’s new magnet plan.” The Charlotte Observer. 11/9/16.

Massachusetts Charters, Georgia School Takeovers: Voters Decide Four Education Ballot Questions

Though the presidential race cliffhanger was taking up most of the political oxygen Tuesday night, there were also important education policy developments in the states. Here’s how four high-profile ballot initiatives fared:

Massachusetts

Voters rejected one of the most fiercely contested and expensive ballot initiatives in the nation, which would have allowed for the opening of up to 12 charter schools per year and for the expansion of existing charter schools.

Opponents — including state and national teachers’ unions, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh (D) and Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — had argued that the rapid expansion of charter schools would drain traditional public schools of essential resources. The defeat is the latest in a string of rebukes of the charter school movement, including a recent resolution by the national NAACP calling for a moratorium on new charter schools until there is an assurance of greater accountability and transparency of charters’ fiscal and academic performance.

Georgia

Voters appear to have rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state to take over “chronically failing” public schools in a new “Opportunity School District.” Opponents saw the measure, backed by Gov. Nathan Deal (R), as a way to speed the conversion of traditional public schools to public charter schools. A similar state-run district has struggled in Tennessee.

Oklahoma

Voters rejected a sales tax increase of one percentage point, which supporters said would generate more than $600 million per year for education. It would have expanded access to early education for poor children from birth to age three and added $5,000 to every teacher’s salary in the state.

California

Voters were leaning late Tuesday toward approving Proposition 58, which would expand access to bilingual education by repealing a nearly two-decade old mandate that required most children learning English as a second language to learn in an English-only immersion environment. With 18 percent of precincts reporting, 73 percent of voters supported the proposition.

Rep. Virginia Foxx Will Seek to Lead House Education Committee

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Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said Wednesday that she will officially run to be chairwoman of the House education committee when the next session of Congress begins in 2017.

Foxx has long been rumored to be one of the top candidates to replace the outgoing chairman, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who is retiring. She currently leads the House panel’s subcommittee on higher education and workforce training. Before the election, she declined to say whether she would seek to take over the committee.

Regardless of whether she becomes the committee chairwoman, Foxx said she’s “thrilled” to get a chance to work with President-elect Donald Trump.

“The opportunities that this presents to us are so fantastic,” said Foxx, who was first elected in 2004.

In 2014, Foxx helped craft legislation that became a reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. And she said that one of the committee’s top priorities will be a series of reauthorizations of education law, including the Higher Education Act and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. And when it comes to those issues, she plans to emphasize fiscal accountability.

New Campaign Promotes Power of Teachers to Reduce Stress of Traumatized Students

Most of the 3rd-graders in Anita Parameswaran’s class at Daniel Webster Elementary in San Francisco have had experiences so awful that their brains won’t let them easily forget. “Whether it be that they’ve been sexually molested, or they’ve seen domestic violence, or shootings, or they know somebody who’s passed away,” Parameswaran said, “I would say every single year about 75 percent, give or take, come in with a lot of trauma.”

Now a national campaign is recognizing, backed by research on brain development, the power of teachers like Parameswaran to lower the levels of stress hormones in a child’s body and strengthen the neural connections needed for learning and self-control. The campaign, called Changing Minds and launched last month, is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Justice, the nonprofit group Futures Without Violence and the Ad Council, a nonprofit agency that creates public service advertisements.

While the message of the campaign is a truism — caring teachers and school staff can have a life-changing impact on struggling students — Changing Minds cites research that suggests the impact of  these relationship extends to preventing or repairing imbalances in the brain that interfere with learning.

The need for adults to take steps, small or large, to encourage these children is urgent, the campaign said. More than 60 percent of children from birth to age 17 in the United States were exposed to violence, crime and abuse in the past year, according to a paper published in 2015 in JAMA Pediatrics that analyzed the results of the 2013-14 National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence.

Exposure to violence “is not limited to one community or one group of children,” noted the co-chairs of the U.S. Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence in a 2012 report that called for a public awareness campaign. “It occurs among all ethnic and racial groups; in urban, suburban and rural areas; in gated communities and on tribal lands.” The Changing Minds campaign, which includes publicity materials as well as teacher tools, is the result of that call.

Exhausted, Unhappy, Underpaid: Inside the ‘other reasons’ NC teachers leave

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Exhausted, overwhelmed, unhappy, underpaid – those are just some of the reasons North Carolina public school teachers have given for leaving their jobs in recent years. 

Their comments were collected as part of the state’s annual report on teacher loss, which shows how many North Carolina educators leave their jobs and the reasons why. But these comments, and hundreds of others, have never been reported publicly – until now.

WRAL News examined the state’s data on teacher loss and found that, in the past three years, nearly 2,000 teachers reported leaving their jobs for “other reasons.” That represents nearly 5 percent of all teachers who left in that timeframe. In more than 700 of those cases, additional comments were submitted to the state to explain why the teachers were leaving, giving more insight into their decisions. 

Some complained about low pay, excessive testing and overwhelming workloads. Others said they wanted to spend more time with family, start a new career or teach overseas.

But those comments and hundreds of others were not included in the state’s annual reports on teacher loss, which are presented to lawmakers and the State Board of Education to help with policy-making decisions. The reports simply count them as teachers who “resigned for other reasons.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Hinchcliffe, K. “Exhausted, unhappy, underpaid: Inside the ‘other reasons’ NC teachers leave.” WRAL. 11/10/16.

The US Charter Movement Should Learn from England’s Academy System

As charter schools celebrate 25 years as part of the U.S. public education system, there has been a dramatic shift in the public debate about their role. Until recently, most discussion has centered around the horse race question of how well students in charters perform in comparison to peers in traditional public schools. But growing attention is now being paid to questions of whether and how to control the growth of charter schools so that they best serve the interests of all students. For example, the NAACP recently called for a moratorium on new charters in communities with large numbers of African Americans, while voters in Massachusetts are now being asked to vote on Tuesday, November 8 on a ballot initiative to remove the cap on the number of charter schools in that state.

Charter schools originated as means of introducing educational innovation while remaining on the fringes of local school systems. As their numbers have grown, however, charters have moved from the fringes to being major players in the public school landscape in many cities. This movement raises important policy questions about how charters and traditional public schools can coexist to ensure the best education for students in the United States.

One country where this debate is in full swing is England, where the current Conservative government in March, 2016,  published a white paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, laying out its intention to turn all 20,000 primary and secondary schools into academies, which is their equivalent of charters, by 2022. Under the plan, academies would receive funding directly from the national Department for Education, thereby sharply reducing the role of the local authorities that have traditionally been responsible for most of the publicly funded schools.

Paper authors Ladd and Fiske recently traveled to England to learn what they could about the plan. They interviewed key stakeholders in London including the officials at the Department for Education, researchers, headteachers (i.e., school principals) and others. In their new Brown Center Policy Brief, they describe five lessons the U.S. can learn from England.

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A Virtual Mess: Inside Colorado’s Largest Online Charter School

Just 24 percent of students use the learning software each day. A program called “FAST and Furious” allows kids to earn a year’s worth of credit for a week of work. The school’s leader helped direct millions of taxpayer dollars to his own for-profit management company. Despite it all, Ken Crowell keeps winning contracts to operate more schools. An Education Week investigation shines a light on what’s wrong with the country’s cyber charter sector.

It took a fishing trip to a remote lake in Canada for Paul Jones to finally blow the whistle on the founder of Colorado’s largest online charter school.

Decades earlier, Jones and Ken Crowell had become friends, then business partners.

Around 2009, the pair renewed their acquaintance during a chance encounter at the supermarket. By then, Crowell was a serial entrepreneur deeply interested in alternative education programs for former high school dropouts like himself. He invited Jones to join the board of his latest venture: GOAL Academy, part of a wave of new schools aiming to educate students full time over the internet.

The year before, GOAL had emerged from the wreckage of Colorado’s Cesar Chavez charter school network. Once hailed as one of the best brick-and-mortar charters in the country, Chavez fell apart when state auditors found top executives had given themselves exorbitant salaries, hired numerous family members, used school credit cards to pay their children’s cellphone bills, and given students extra time to complete state tests.

Crowell, though, helped convince regulators that the online education program he had been running at Chavez should survive as its own school.

It was a decision that some of those officials soon came to regret.

From the beginning, GOAL’s academic performance was weak. In 2012, fewer than 20 percent of the school’s students graduated on time. Fewer than 4 percent scored proficient on state math tests. And that’s just the public information: Even now, only 1 in 4 students uses the school’s learning software on a typical day, according to internal school data obtained by Education Week as part of an eight-month investigation.

Opportunities

Applications Open for 2017-18 Kenan Fellowships

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The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is accepting online applications for the 2017-18 fellowship year through January 16, 2017. These fellowships address the critical need to develop and empower high-quality teachers, who, in turn, make learning more authentic for students.

The fellowship begins with a summer internship in a higher education lab or industry setting and is supported by 80 hours of professional development that focuses on building leadership capacity and proven instructional strategies.

Fellowship projects have a unique set of criteria that in some cases is restricted by district, grade level and subject. Projects vary from scientific research to work experiences in the agriculture, energy and high-tech manufacturing industries.

Each Fellow is awarded at least a $5,000 stipend, and must develop and implement relevant educational materials and/or programs based on their internship experience. Fellows remain in the classroom while completing the year-long fellowship. Visit kenanfellows.org/2017-18-fellowships to see which fellowships are available to educators in your school district.

NC Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center Seeks Award Nominations

Each year, the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center awards individuals and organizations whose extraordinary contributions to science, mathematics and technology education in North Carolina help advance education in North Carolina.

Awards are presented in eight different categories. Educator and student award recipients receive $1,000 and are honored during the Celebration of Science, Mathematics and Technology event in the spring.

Visit the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center website for more information. The deadline to nominate is December 1st.

Visit NC School of Science and Mathematics for a Day of Demonstrations & Inspiration 

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) invites teachers, administrators, and education advocates to join us for a Learning Tour, a behind-the-scenes visit to its Durham campus. Remaining tours are scheduled for November 17, 2016 and March 14, 2017.

Learning Tours include demonstrations and discussions of technology and curriculum led by faculty members, sometimes with student participation, on topics such as:

  • Global understanding: How to create real-time interactive video classroom with students in the U.S. and China
  • Maker space demonstrations in our new fabrication lab
  • Student engagement in the mathematics classroom: Modeling, manipulatives, and more
  • Hands-on with the Internet of Things: Sensors, robots, microcontrollers and the curriculum materials that come with them, for STEM classrooms
  • Library design and resources for today’s students
  • Videoconferencing classes and STEM enrichment activities.

NCSSM assesses a site visit fee to cover the cost of lunch for all participants as well as visit coordination:

  • $25 per person (paid at least two weeks in advance of the tour)
  • $35 per person (paid less than two weeks in advance of the tour)

For more information, registration and payment, visit www.ncssm.edu/learning-tours

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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