Public School Forum Releases Study Group XVI Action Plan and Recommendations

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On Thursday, the Public School Forum of North Carolina released the findings of its 16th Biannual Study Group — Expanding Educational Opportunity in North Carolina. The yearlong process involved more than 175 education, government and business leaders from across the state focused on three key topics related to expanding educational opportunity in North Carolina: addressing the impact of childhood trauma on learning; increasing racial equity; and supporting low-performing schools. The full report can be found here: Expanding Educational Opportunity in North Carolina: Action Plan and Recommendations.

“Study group committees met over the course of the year to learn from experts and to work collaboratively to generate practical strategies for addressing the challenges we face in our state related to expanding educational opportunity,” said Dr. Michael Priddy, Co-Chair of the Study Group and Chairman of the Public School Forum of North Carolina. “We are grateful to all those who contributed to this work, and we are eager to build on their efforts. We invite all those who care about education in North Carolina to join us in moving this important work forward.”

More than a “report,” the publication sets the course for the Public School Forum and its partners to continue addressing educational opportunity in the years ahead. New programs and policy initiatives introduced in the publication will be the work of the Forum’s new North Carolina Center for Educational Opportunity.

“We find ourselves at a unique and pivotal moment in the history of education in our state. The challenging topics taken up by the study group—trauma, racial equity, and low-performing schools—have been at the core of educational opportunity for decades, and they aren’t going away any time soon,” said Keith Poston, President and Executive Director, Public School Forum of North Carolina. “By learning together, having the tough conversations these issues require, and developing the creative solutions our children deserve, we can meet the challenges head on. That’s what the study group has been about, it’s what you see in the Action Plan and Recommendations, and it’s what we will build on through the North Carolina Center for Educational Opportunity.” 

Last Friday, study group co-chairs Dr. Priddy and Dr. Dudley Flood, published a preview of the publication, launching a week-long series of articles by committee co-chairs, published on EdNC, culminating in yesterday’s release:

The Action Plan and Recommendations consists of four sections. The first contains a letter from the co-chairs, an Executive Summary, and an introduction to the study group process and the publication. The remaining three sections represent the work of each of the three committees. You can link to these sections directly here:

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Public School Forum Programs

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Nominate an Outstanding Education Leader!

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The Public School Forum is seeking nominations for education leaders to be profiled on our new weekly TV show, Education Matters, on WRAL-TV.
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.

This Weekend in Education Matters: Expanding Educational Opportunity

This week’s episode of Education Matters, the Forum’s weekly television program airing on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on WRAL-TV, focuses on expanding educational opportunity in North Carolina. The following guests will join host Keith Poston to discuss this week’s release of the Forum’s study group publication on educational opportunity:
  • Dr. Michael Priddy, Chairman, Public School Forum of NC
  • Dr. Dudley Flood, Educational Consultant
  • Dr. Katie Rosanbalm, Research Scientist, Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University
  • James E. Ford, Director of Programs, Public School Forum of NC and 2014 NC Teacher of the Year
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The first episode of the show, on October 2, focused on NC’s teacher pipeline and last week’s episode focused on declining state funding for classroom resources and how teachers are making up the difference from their own pockets.
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 viewable online at https://www.ncforum.org/education-matters/ and http://www.wral.com/ (search for Education Matters). 
You can engage with Education Matters on Twitter by following NCEdmatters and the Public School ForumOn Facebook, you can like the Public School Forum page and the Education Matters show page to get information about the show and other education news of interest on your timeline.

State News

Princeville Students Without Homes or a School

        

“What kind of backyard is this?” asked Ja’Leah Whitehead, a seven-year-old Princeville resident, as she walked down partially flooded streets of Tarboro. “It’s more like a swimming pool!” She jumped over puddles and asked her older cousins, Jeremiah Sellers, 9, and Elijah Sellers, 12, for piggy-back rides.

This, because it had to be, was their Friday. Jeremiah and Elijah’s mom, Sheila Cook, knew their home was flooded when the news showed aerial footage of Princeville Elementary underwater. Cook said their apartment is within walking distance of the school. Her sons used to attend Princeville but now go to Martin Millennium Academy, which is in Tarboro and was largely unaffected by the storm.

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North Carolina, especially the historically poor eastern region of the state, was hit by Hurricane Matthew the hardest in the country. On Saturday, Governor Pat McCrory said the state’s death toll had risen to 26. Just as the rest of the state was regaining power and withstanding minor damages, hundreds of Princeville families were displaced from their homes.

Cook says she heard of the town’s mandatory evacuation on Sunday. She packed up Jeremiah’s baby pictures and as many of the kids’ clothes as she could. She said, in the moment, she didn’t know exactly what was most important.

As an entire community waits for the water to recede, they know the town that emerges won’t be the one they left the week before. But on Friday, life for Cook was on pause in many ways. There was nothing she could do about the struggles that would remain when the water left.

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As a substitute teacher in Edgecombe County Schools, Cook was out of work for the week, unclear when work will be steady again. For now, her and her children are staying with her mom in Tarboro. They will soon have to choose to rebuild their home or move away from family.

“It’s stressful,” Cook said. “I try not to let it become overwhelming.”

Schools remain closed. The gyms of both Martin Millennium Academy and Tarboro High School are set up as makeshift shelters — together serving more than 300 people. Elijah has spent hours volunteering there since last Sunday.

Patillo Middle School was surrounded by flooding, although superintendent John Farrelly said there is no damage inside the school. And flooding has nearly destroyed Princeville Elementary School. The photo below was taken by Farrelly on last Thursday from an Army National Guard boat.

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For now, school leaders are scrambling for solutions for 220 pre-K through fifth grade Princeville Elementary students without a building, textbooks, materials, desks, or any sense of normalcy.

Edgecombe County Schools public information officer Susan Hoke said district leaders are searching for an alternate location but have to get the school board’s approval before anything is official. The school board is meeting Monday, Hoke said, to make some decisions on next steps.

“For a lot of those kids, that was their safe space,” Hoke said. “So hopefully that’s what we can provide for them in the days ahead.”

Marie Gianino, who has taught pre-K at Princeville for over 10 years, described the school as the hub of the town.

She said she just keeps imagining her classroom floating. The past and current students’ projects previously hung on walls. The chairs she and her husband refinished and painted as a project this past summer.

“I know that there’s going to be some very frightened little children,” Gianino said. “And we have to figure out what best we can do to kind of take away what Matthew has exasperated for them.”

As an early childhood educator, Gianino knows the importance of children’s social and emotional needs. Before worrying about academics, she said she first works to build a sense of security in her students, then independence, and then self-identity. Then, she said, the learning begins.

“And now, all of a sudden, we’ve kind of been caught right in the middle of that,” she said. “So we’re basically going to start all over again.”

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

School Districts Grapple with Bus Driver Shortages

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Brunswick County School bus drivers Sahketha Hemingway (left) and Chalmeta Evans (right) 

When she was still a UNCW student, Chalmeta Evans picked up a part-time job driving buses for Brunswick County Schools (BCS). Nine years later she’s a college graduate, a Leland resident and still happily transporting the district’s students.

“I’ve been on the same route for approximately five years,” she said. “It’s a privilege to drive for students … seeing them grow up and develop, mature.”

But in recent years Evans’ has had to cover more and longer routes as the district struggles to keep up with the demand for bus drivers for its 151 routes. School districts throughout Southeastern North Carolina have long dealt with bus driver shortages, reflecting what school officials say is a national problem.

“We see it a lot in the trade magazines and I feel like everyone is fighting it,” said Gwen Ratliff, BCS’ senior transportation supervisor. “We have put notices on the cafeteria menus … we’ve put it in school news letter. We’ve actually bought a large banner we hang on an old bus, move it around county just letting people know there are part-time jobs out there.”

BCS has 12 open driver positions, about 7 percent of its fleet. New Hanover County Schools needs eight more drivers and as of Thursday Pender County Schools had two posted bus driver openings.

Those shortages demand creative problem solving. NHCS brings in substitute drivers from WAVE Transit; BCS reimburses drivers for their commercial licenses and offers bonuses for good attendance; all three districts have appealed to parents looking for part-time work to fill the gaps.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Student Sleeping Patterns & School Hours

According to new research into the sleeping patterns of the state’s high school students, starting school after 8:30 a.m. reduces absences and suspensions for economically-disadvantaged students. “We found that sleep is a relatively cost-effective way to improve student performance,” Kevin Bastian, the UNC-Chapel Hill Education Policy Initiative’s research director and author of the report, told the House Select Committee on Education Strategies and Practices on Tuesday.
The study surveyed exam scores, absences and suspensions at North Carolina middle and high schools with later bell times, which is a growing trend. Bastian said that in 2009, only 228 schools started after 8:30 a.m. By 2014, the number was 396. Researchers said they were eager to study the Durham Public Schools, which just moved the starting bell from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m.
While researchers found later starts had a marginal effect on EOC and ACT scores, the impact was significant on absences and suspensions. Both decreased for economically-disadvantaged students during the time period examined.
“There is a stereotype that teenagers stay up too late and get up too late,” Bastian said. “But it is not that simple. Teens experience biological changes that make them need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep.” The report also highlighted the 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that schools across the country adjust start times so students receive the 8.5 to 9.5 hours of nightly rest doctors advise for teens. “Everybody learns better when they’re awake,” Bastian said.
Excerpt from:
Boylan, D. “School Hours.” The Insider. 10/19/16.

National News

National High School Graduation Rates Reaches New High

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President Barack Obama speaks to students, teachers and invited guests at Benjamin Banneker Academic

High School on Monday. Photo Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press.

The nation’s high school graduation rate has reached a record 83.2 percent, continuing a steady increase that shows improvement across all racial and ethnic groups, according to federal data released Monday.

President Barack Obama welcomed the higher rate as good news, but the gains come against a backdrop of decreasing scores on national math and reading tests.

Education Secretary John B. King Jr. acknowledged worries about sagging achievement. “A higher graduation rate is meaningful progress, but certainly we share the concern that we have more work to do to make sure every student graduates ready for what’s next,” he said.

Obama visited Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, a magnet school in the District of Columbia, to tout the graduation rate for the 2014-2015 school year. “More African-American and Latino students are graduating than ever before,” he said.

Gains also were seen for disabled students and those from low-income families.

The District of Columbia made the most progress in the U.S. in 2014-2015 compared to the previous year, improving its graduation rate by 7 percentage points.

Obama applauded the high school for graduating all its seniors. “It’s been a while since I did math, but 100 percent is good. You can’t do better than that,” Obama told the audience, which included King, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Mayor Muriel Bowser and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

At the same time, he also warned the students they would need more than a high school diploma to succeed in today’s job market. He said that repetitive work done in factories or offices can now be done by machine. They would need critical thinking skills.

“We live in a global economy,” Obama said. “And the best jobs are going to go to the people who are the best educated, whether in India or China, or anywhere in the world.”

Florida High School Lets Students Earn Bachelor’s Degree

Aya Tal-mason’s excitement as she describes her research on cancer-fighting drugs rivals her schoolmate Paige Fries’ audible enthusiasm about her recently published science-fiction novel. Fellow student Hannah Herbst recently visited President Barack Obama to explain the inexpensive generator she designed that uses plastic spoons and the hydropower of streams to charge cellphones, giving remote villagers a link to the outside world.

Not bad for a bunch of public high school kids.

The teens attend Florida Atlantic University High School, which education officials believe is the nation’s only school where all students can simultaneously earn their high school diploma and bachelor’s degree. The National Association of Secondary School Principals knows of no similar program.

About eight of each year’s graduating class of 130 accomplish the dual-degree feat and nearly 100 percent graduate college by 19, about the time most university students are learning their town’s best pizza joints. More than half enter graduate or professional school.

Perhaps the best part — tuition and textbooks are free.

“When I was in high school, a lot of my friends would ask me, ‘Why would you want to accelerate? Don’t you want to move away from home and do the ‘College Experience?'” said Mahalia Sanon, 18, a recent FAU High grad who’s about to earn her pre-pharmacy bachelor’s degree. The child of a single mother, Sanon will soon start pharmacy school — she scored in the 93rd percentile on her entrance exam. “Now that they see I am about to graduate with no debt, they are envious.”

About 700 eighth graders apply annually to FAU High and 140 are accepted based on their grades, their score on a college entrance exam and recommendations. Some come from as far away as Miami, a 50-mile daily commute each way. The state funds the school’s $3.8 million budget, while students pay an annual $500 university activity fee.

FAU Assistant Dean Joel Herbst, who oversees the program for the 30,000-student university, said prospective students and parents are warned about the dedication needed to succeed at the 12-year-old school. Most students spend hours daily studying or doing research and still participate in sports or extracurricular activities. Despite the demands, only about three freshmen drop out annually, Herbst said. After that, attrition is mostly students who move.

“If your heart is not in this, you are not going to last,” said Herbst, who is Hannah Herbst’s father.

But the 530 students aren’t just the children of the well-off and well-educated. The student body is racially and economically diverse. About a third of the students are below or near the federal poverty line and receive free or discounted lunches. Many have parents who didn’t finish college.

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

North Carolina Among States Spending Less on Education Now Than Before the Great Recession

When the Great Recession hit, states trimmed — and in some cases slashed — their budgets for public services, including for education. As the recession ended and the economy improved, some states began restoring funds to schools. But by 2014, 35 states were still spending less per student than they did in 2008, before the recession took hold, according to a report released Thursday.

North Carolina had the eighth largest decline in total state spending from 2008 to 2017, and the third largest decline in the Southeast.

Data for total state education spending in the current school year isn’t yet available. But looking just at general (or “formula”) funding, which comprises the bulk of education spending in most states, 23 states are continuing to spend less per student in the 2016-2017 school year than they were in 2008, according to the report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.

In too many states, “public investment in K-12 schools, which are crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity, has declined dramatically in recent years,” said Michael Leachman, a co-author of the report.

Here are the states with the biggest declines in total state spending from 2008 to 2014, on the left, and 2008 to 2017, on the right:

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An obvious outlier is North Dakota, where a booming oil industry filled state coffers and made possible an enormous increase in per-pupil spending.

Why are states still spending less than they were in 2008? Some states have been slow to recover from the recession, and they have had to deal with rising enrollments and rising costs at the same time as federal education aid dipped, according to the report. But Leachman pointed out that several states with the largest decreases in school spending — such as Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Wisconsin — also have cut income taxes in recent years, giving up revenue that could be used for education.

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

Opportunities

NCCAT Professional Development Opportunities

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. Registration for the fall programs is open now. Programs are available to North Carolina educators at the Cullowhee and Ocracoke campuses, online and with NCCAT faculty visiting school districts. For more information visit www.nccat.org.

Upcoming programs include:

14266 • THE READING FOUNDATIONS TRAINING – CULLOWHEE
November 17-22
The Reading Foundation’s six day training will provide teachers with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills needed to deliver effective reading instruction to all students. It also will increase their understanding of reading difficulties and their ability to help struggling readers succeed. In this course teachers are introduced to the knowledge, skills and procedures needed to provide effective instruction for students with persistent reading difficulties. The program will provide teachers with a strong understanding of what it takes to build an individualized reading instruction program that will have a direct effect on the academic performance of their students. The completion of this course will qualify the participant to obtain 5 CEUs or 3 hours of Graduate Level Credit through Mars Hill University. Information will be provided at the start of the session.

14271 • USING SCIENCE AS A MOTIVATOR FOR IMPROVING THE LITERACY SKILLS OF EXCEPTIONAL STUDENTS – OCRACOKE
November 29-December 2
Meeting the needs of exceptional children can be a challenge for teachers who have these students in regular classroom settings. It can also be a challenge for EC teachers who have experience, but who must teach in multi-grade and multi-categorical self-contained classrooms. NCDPI mandates that public schools identify and serve students with disabilities, and that these students demonstrate progress on Regular or Extended content standards. Join teachers of EC students and experts in the field of special education as we investigate strategies to provide enhanced literacy instruction integrated across the curriculum, with an emphasis on science. Create lessons that differentiate for all learners. Explore the policies and best practices of EC expectations, create ways to challenge EC children, enhance literacy and science needs, and encourage continual intellectual and developmental growth.

14273 • CANVAS FOR INTERMEDIATE USERS – CULLOWHEE
December 6-8
Canvas, North Carolina’s Learning Management System (LMS), is your place for one-stop learning and course management. For this training, teachers who are currently using Canvas in their districts will create modules, pages, lessons, assessments, and discussions. Learn to create a professional-looking course with buttons and banners. Design an ePortfolio for professional use, and have time to collaborate with other Canvas users.

Fayetteville, Tarboro ESSA Public Comment Sessions Canceled; Sessions Will Be Rescheduled

The public comment sessions scheduled for Fayetteville and Tarboro to receive feedback from educators, parents, students and other stakeholders on the state’s K-12 Education Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) have been canceled due to the impact of Hurricane Matthew in these communities.
The Fayetteville ESSA public comment session was scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 18, at Long Hill Elementary School. The Tarboro ESSA public comment session was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Tarboro High School.
The sessions will be rescheduled with advance notice provided. The remaining public comment sessions will take place as scheduled:
  • Oct. 24, Waynesville: Tuscola High School, Auditorium, 564 Tuscola School Road, Waynesville.
  • Oct. 25, Burlington: Career and Technical Education Center, 2550 Buckingham Road, Burlington.
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The sessions will be held from 5-7 p.m. Anyone may attend a session in any region. Audience members who want to speak (up to 3 minutes) should sign in by 5:15 p.m. at each session and are invited (but not required) to bring a copy of their remarks to submit into the record of the event. A recording and notes from each session also will be taken.
In addition, the public is invited to submit comments to NCDPI through Let’s Talk. Simply click on the Let’s Talk link on the NCDPI website and select the ESSA dialog topic when prompted. 

Wake County Public Schools Research Partnership Symposium

The Wake County Public School System will be hosting a day-long (9:00-4:00) symposium on November 1st to highlight WCPSS’s research partnerships with various universities across the Triangle and beyond. The symposium will be held at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation.
The morning agenda will include a plenary session about partnership work broadly (with guests from Durham and Guilford Public Schools), as well as a discussion among district and university grants directors about navigating the grantmaking process. 
The afternoon agenda will include short sessions in which district staff and their university partners will highlight collaborations and share results. Such collaborations include the following, among other projects: 
  • An examination of the relationship between students’ civic engagement and achievement (partnership with Duke University)
  • The impact of a contemporary career academy on high school graduation and beyond (partnership with UNC Chapel Hill)
  • A look at “summer melt,” whereby students intend to enroll in college but fall off course during the summer (partnership with NC State)
Coffee and snacks will be available before we kick off at 9:00. Lunch is included. 
Please RSVP here.

Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership

The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is accepting articles and literary reviews to be featured in the second 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 Monday, Oct. 31, 2016.
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.

©2016 Public School Forum of North Carolina. All Rights Reserved.

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