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The Friday Report

October 27, 2017

State News

Will NC Legislators Protect Experienced Principals From Cuts Under New Pay Scale?

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Denita Dowell-Reavis helped lead her school from a C to a B score, but the elimination of bonuses for longevity and advanced degrees mean she still faces a pay cut under the new performance-based principal pay scale.

Photo Credit: Liz Schlemmer, WUNC.

This is Denita Dowell-Reavis’ second year as a principal at Faith Elementary, a public school in the small town of Faith, in Rowan County. She worked hard last year. While finishing her doctorate degree in educational leadership, she helped her school exceed its expected test scores.

“We were able to move our school score, as based by state testing, from a C to a B so we had a celebration about that,” Dowell-Reavis said.

And that’s exactly what lawmakers are hoping to reward with the new principal pay scale. North Carolina ranked last in the nation for average principal salary last year.

The General Assembly in its most recent budget overhauled how school principals across North Carolina are paid. The plan switches from a model based on experience to one based on school improvement as measured in test scores. The budget added $35 million to the state coffers for principal pay this year, but other changes have some principals worried.

Dowell-Reavis was excited to hear the new state budget would raise the base pay for principals across the state by almost $10,000 to $61,751. Last year, Dowell-Reavis was already making just a few thousand dollars more than this year’s new base pay, but she had also been expecting a raise for completing her doctorate. When the budget came out, she says she was blindsided.

“That’s when I realized they had decided to cut the doctoral pay, and I had just walked and graduated in the spring, so it was sort of a little punch in the gut to realize that, ‘Oh you’re not going to get paid for that extra work you did’,” she said.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Schlemmer, L. “Will NC Legislators Protect Experienced Principals From Cuts Under New Pay Scale?” WUNC. 10/23/17.

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The Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform meets for the first time on Wednesday of next week, November 1, 10:00 am in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building. There is remote audio access to the Task Force meeting through the General Assembly’s website (scroll down to the meeting and click on the audio symbol for access).

The Task Force’s legislative mandate is to “… study various weighted student formula funding models and develop a new funding model for the elementary and secondary public schools of North Carolina based on a weighted student formula.” S.L. 2017-57, Section 7.23D, Appropriations Act of 2017. Its final report, including proposed legislation, is due by October 1, 2018. Those interested in signing up for automatic notices of the Task Force meetings can do so here.

The following legislators are the members of this new Task Force:

Members

Co-Chairs
Rep. D. Craig Horn (Co-Chair)

Sen. Michael V. Lee (Co-Chair)

Legislative Members
Rep. Hugh Blackwell

Rep. Kevin Corbin

Rep. Jon Hardister

Rep. Howard J. Hunter, III

Rep. Frank Iler

Rep. Linda P. Johnson

Rep. Donny Lambeth

Rep. Marvin W. Lucas

Sen. Deanna Ballard

Sen. Chad Barefoot

Sen. Harry Brown

Sen. David L. Curtis

Sen. Valerie P. Foushee

Sen. Kathy Harrington

Sen. Norman W. Sanderson

Sen. Jerry W. Tillman

Advisory Member
Rep. Jimmy Dixon

Missing Elephant in the Room? State Lawmakers to Examine Education Finance Without Considering Overall Funding Sufficiency

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Photo Credit: NC Policy Watch.

When state lawmakers meet next week to begin the weighty task of reforming North Carolina’s knotty method of financing public schools, the sufficiency of the state’s K-12 funding will not be on the table.

Rep. Craig Horn, an influential Union County Republican who co-chairs a pivotal joint legislative task force on education finance reform, told Policy Watch Tuesday that he considers adequacy to be an altogether “separate issue.”

“In my view, you need a plan on how you distribute the money,” Horn said this week. “Then go fight over how much money there is.”

It’s a contentious point as Horn’s task force begins its work November 1, taking on reforms that most North Carolina political observers acknowledge to be one of the defining public education issues of our time.

“This has the potential to be the biggest change in North Carolina education policy in 100 years. This is a monumental undertaking,” says Keith Poston, president and executive director of the Public School Forum of N.C., a nonpartisan research group based in Raleigh that authors an annual study of K-12 funding gaps between wealthy and poor counties.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Ball, B. “Missing elephant in the room? State lawmakers to examine education finance without considering overall funding sufficiency.” NC Policy Watch. 10/25/17.

In This Issue

Public School Forum Programs

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Nominate a Leader for Children in Your Community

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Do you know a leader in your community supporting our schools and making a difference in the lives of children both in and out of school? The Public School Forum is seeking nominations for individuals to be highlighted on our weekly statewide TV show, Education Matters. Click here for an example of a recent spotlight.

Nominees could be principals, superintendents, teachers, teacher assistants, guidance counselors, parents, students, business leaders, community volunteers, afterschool providers, and the list goes on!

To nominate someone, please fill out the form here.

Single Robeson County School Selected for ISD

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Southside-Ashpole Elementary School, which has 280 students, is located in Rowland. If the local school system does not surrender control if it is picked for the ISD, then it will be closed. Photo Credit: The Robesonian.

With almost 2,600 public schools in the state of North Carolina, Southside-Ashpole Elementary is the only one being recommended for inclusion in a new state program that proponents say could be a lifesaver for students at the low-performing school, but which has been met with scorn and criticism locally.

Eric Hall, who is the superintendent of the Innovative School District, said Southside-Ashpole is the only school remaining from an original list of 48 that he will recommend to the State Board of Education for inclusion. That will happen in November, and the state board will make a decision in December.

There had been five Robeson County schools, all low-performing, on the list of 48, and the final four list included schools in the Durham, Nash-Rocky Mount and Northampton systems.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Douglas, D. “Southside lone ISD pick.” The Robesonian. 10/21/17.

CMS Growth Flattens; One Group is Saving the School System from Shrinking

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Nations Ford Elementary is about two-thirds Hispanic, one of 22 schools where Hispanic students are a majority. Photo Credit: Davie Hinshaw, The Charlotte Observer.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools added only about 200 students this year, well below the modest forecast of 750 and the closest thing to a no-growth year in recent memory.

Recently released tallies for 2017-18 show CMS with 147,359 students, an increase of about one-tenth of 1 percent over 2016. Without an influx of more than 1,650 new Hispanic students, North Carolina’s second-largest school district would face declining enrollment.

But the numbers vary dramatically from school to school, and they don’t always reflect the overall demographic trends. Two majority-white high schools, Ardrey Kell and Myers Park, surpassed South Mecklenburg, which has a roughly even mix of Hispanic, white and black students. All three now top 3,100 students, making them among the largest public schools in North Carolina.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Helms, A. “CMS growth flattens. One group is saving the school system from shrinking.” The Charlotte Observer. 10/24/17.

Charter School Transportation May Be Worth Considering, NC Senate Leader Berger Says

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Teacher’s aide Elizabeth Young, left, asks a question of her students during an English lesson at the Maureen Joy Charter School in Durham in December 2016. Maureen Joy Charter School is a K-8 public charter school and is tuition free and open to the public. Photo Credit: Chuck Liddy, The News & Observer.

Greater support for charter school transportation is “something we may need to look at,” Senate leader Phil Berger said Tuesday.

Charter schools are not required to offer student transportation. Although some charter schools do operate buses, it is optional for them.

The state does not pay for charter schools’ bus purchases. Lack of transportation is often cited as one of the factors that has resulted in a relative lack of diversity at charters.

The News & Observer published a series of articles on charter schools this month. Last year, The N&O found 30 percent of North Carolina charters were 80 percent or more white and 27 percent were less than 20 percent white. For traditional public schools, 14 percent were 80 percent or more white, and 19 percent were less than 20 percent white.

Some states require transportation for charter school students: either the schools themselves provide it, or school districts provide transportation for charter students attending schools within district boundaries.

“I think the entire landscape, whether it’s state allocations or local allocation, I think both those ought to be looked at,” said Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County.

Durham Public Schools Worry About State Mandate to Lower Class Size; See Why

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Jon Long (center), the Durham Public Schools’ executive director of construction and capital planning, talks with school board members Natalie Beyer (left) and Steve Unruhe (right) before the start of a recent DPS Board of Education work session. Photo Credit: Greg Childress, The Herald Sun.

More Durham Public Schools students could end up in mobile classrooms next year because of a mandate to lower class sizes for students in kindergarten through third-grade.

Due to the mandate, which effectively shrinks school capacity, DPS will need an additional 63 classrooms to accommodate nearly 1,178 students.

So, school officials might have to turn to mobile classrooms to create more space, as school leaders grab rooms used by other programs, for example resource rooms that are used to teach English to immigrant students, and convert them to traditional classrooms.

Jon Long, the district’s executive director of construction and capital planning, told school board members at a recent work session that the district could possibly get away with 41 additional classrooms if it can use existing mobile units.

But that could create an expensive problem for DPS if the trailers aren’t where they are needed and have to be moved.

“Just to put a little real life to that equation, this year Forest View [Elementary School], which is already at 116 percent capacity, we were scheduled to move two mobile units there from Pearsontown [Elementary School],” said Aaron Beaulieu, the district’s CFO who is serving as interim superintendent. “The cost to move two, old, dilapidated mobile units to Forest View was $250,000.”

DPS received only two bids to move the trailers — one for $198,200 and another for $360,000 — covering the move and basic installation.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Childress, G. “Durham Public Schools worry about state mandate to lower class size. See why.” The Herald Sun. 10/23/17.

Lack of Wealth Hurting Rural School Districts

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of three articles focusing on the impact of poverty on education in rural areas, including Warren County.

When one considers the wealthiest places in the state, the Research Triangle Park region and Charlotte come to mind. There, business and technology drive a growing economy fueled by companies based in countries around the world.

Little more than an hour’s drive away from the RTP region lies Warren County and other rural areas that have not fully recovered from the economic downturn of about 10 years ago and where poverty is more evident. Does this economic difference have an impact on education here and in similar communities? Local educators say “yes.”

Dr. Ray Spain, superintendent of schools, said that while poverty exists in more affluent areas like Wake County, it is a major concern in rural, low wealth school districts like Warren. Poverty not only affects education, but employment, housing and available resources, he added.

Spain said that the counties in the Interstate 85 area and points east share a common characteristic of high poverty, which creates challenges such as access to nutritious meals and after-school care. To address these challenges, Warren County Schools has developed a number of programs, which will be addressed in future articles.

However, low wealth school districts also face challenges in providing pre-kindergarten services. Spain and Dr. Linda Mason, assistant superintendent for curriculum, consider pre-kindergarten as a vital part of the educational process that sets the foundation for children’s future success. Students who have not attended pre-kindergarten must catch up on what they missed once they enter kindergarten.

Mason said that students in more affluent schools districts are more likely to be exposed to early educational opportunities because more parents can afford to enroll their children in private pre-kindergartens. In areas such as Warren County, parents may not be able to afford the cost of private daycare and pre-kindergarten.​

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Weldon, L. “Lack of wealth hurting rural school districts.” The Warren Record. 10/25/17.

Forum News

Education Matters

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Education Matters will be pre-empted this weekend on WRAL. FOX50 and The NC Channel will air encore episodes of the show. New episodes will return on November 11th.​

When and Where to Watch Education Matters

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

Sundays at 8:00 AM, FOX 50

(Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville)

Sundays at 6:30 AM and Wednesdays at 9:30 AM, UNC-TV’s North Carolina Channel (Statewide)

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

Online at https://www.ncforum.org/

National News

Gates Foundation Announces New $1.7B for K-12

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Bill Gates detailed new investments by his foundation in K-12 education at the Council of the Great City Schools’ annual conference in Cleveland. Photo Credit: Clarence Tabb Jr., CGCS.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new investment of $1.7 billion for K-12 education over the next five years, with the bulk of the funding aimed at existing traditional public schools that show progress in improving educational outcomes, the development of new curricula, charter schools focused on students with special needs, and “research and development” for scalable models that could inform best practices.

Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of the foundation, delivered the news in a speech last Thursday at the Council of Great City Schools’ annual conference in Cleveland, where he spoke about the foundation’s work in education over the past 17 years, which has drawn both praise and harsh criticism. The preview of the philanthropy’s new priorities in education ended months of speculation following the appointment of new leadership in late 2016 and continued scrutiny of its K-12 priorities.

“If there is one thing I have learned,” Gates said, “it is that no matter how enthusiastic we might be about one approach or another, the decision to go from pilot to wide-scale usage is ultimately and always something that has to be decided by you and others in the field.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Vara-Orta, F. “Gates Foundation Announces New $1.7B for K-12.” Education Week. 10/19/17.

Until Poverty is Eliminated, Schools Won’t Graduate 100 Percent of Students, Expert Says

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Photo Credit: Alison Yin, EdSource.

California has made higher graduation rates one of its key measures for assessing school performance as part of its new accountability system. Graduation rates have increased steadily in California in recent years, now reaching an average of 83.2 percent for the class of 2016.

But just how high can or should graduation rates go?

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Michelle King has set a goal of graduating 100 percent of district students.

But one of the state’s leading experts on how to increase graduation rates says that is not likely to happen without far-reaching changes in the society as a whole.

Russell Rumberger, a professor emeritus at UC Santa Barbara who directs the California Dropout Research Project, said poverty is too big an obstacle for some students to overcome. Although the graduation rate has increased, more than 50,000 students drop out of high school each year, he said.

“A lot of kids and their families live in very dire circumstances, with food insecurity and health issues that affect their ability to learn,” he said. “Even if schools are working their butts off, most people would agree, you’re never going to solve any major problem like graduation rates without attempts to help kids and families improve.”

“If we guaranteed every kid could not live in poverty, I bet we could do it,” Rumberger added. “Until we solve poverty, we’ll never solve high school graduation rates.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Harrington, T. “Until poverty eliminated, schools won’t graduate 100 percent of students, expert says.” EdSource. 10/23/17.

Teacher Diversity Gaps Hit Close to Home for Nearly Everyone

Last month, we kicked off a series focused on diversity in the public teacher workforce with an article looking at patterns and trends in the diversity gap across locales, school sectors, and teacher generations. This analysis showed, among other things, that the diversity gap is not monolithic, but varies across different places. We extend this analysis in today’s post by mapping the depth and breadth of gaps across the U.S.

Conversations to date about teacher diversity gaps have largely lacked geographic detail. Prior research about teacher diversity, including ours, has almost exclusively used data from national sources to present a picture of diversity gaps through a macro lens. (There are a few notable exceptions using more localized data sources focusing on particular states or metro areas, including a new data visualization from the Urban Institute.)

The problem with the macro lens, of course, is that it masks underlying variation that may be occurring across the nation with respect to diversity gaps. Teaching is a very localized occupation, and these gaps are expected to vary across different geographies depending on both student and teacher demographics.

To provide a more comprehensive picture of the variation in diversity gaps across the country, we produced a series of maps using data from the American Community Survey. This is a nationally representative survey in which 3.5 million households are sampled every year. The five-year estimates, which we use, aggregate survey responses between 2011-2015 and report on all households down to the level of public use microdata areas (PUMAs)—Census-designated areas corresponding to regions of states containing at least 100,000 people.

Opportunities

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Application Open for Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) Award

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The Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics or PRISM Award provides NC public school teachers the opportunity to receive up to $3000 in funding towards the purchase of STEM-related materials and up to $1500 for any necessary training for those materials.

The award was created in 2012 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support teachers in their efforts to provide quality hands-on, inquiry-based activities for their students.

“The PRISM Award enables teachers to provide new and inventive ways of teaching STEM in their classrooms,” said Dr. John Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. “For a relatively modest investment students all over North Carolina can benefit from the wealth of material that may not otherwise be available to them.”

The Fund has provided 238 awards to 77 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts for a total of $750,000. One teacher, Matthew Kinnaird in Buncombe County, used the PRISM Award to build a radio telescope with his class to gather information for NASA.

Teachers may apply at https://www.bwfund.org/grant-programs/science-education/promoting-innovation-science-and-mathematicsThe deadline to apply is December 5, 2017.

Call for Papers: Teacher Leadership Journal

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The Journal of Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership, an online scholarly publication of the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership, announces a call for papers for its next issue to be published in early 2018.

The program is most interested in manuscripts that address educational leadership, specifically how teachers can grow their influence without leaving the classroom, the interdisciplinary nature of STEM, project- and inquiry-based learning, agricultural education, science literacy, and education policy and advocacy.

They welcome articles on research, case studies, analysis and literary reviews. They will also accept evidence-based essays and editorials that are not simply personal accounts or strictly opinions. Full manuscripts must be submitted through kenanfellows.org/journals by December 1, 2017.

Submissions will undergo a blind peer review. Please direct questions to Amneris Solano, managing editor, at asolano@ncsu.edu.

The Friday Report is published weekly by the Public School Forum of NC and is distributed to Forum members, policymakers, donors, media, and Forum subscribers. Archived editions can be found at www.ncforum.org.

©2017 Public School Forum of North Carolina. All Rights Reserved.

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