Study Group XVI

In North Carolina, We Talk About Race & Poverty in Education. But What About Trauma?

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James Ford. Photo Credit: John Simmons, The Charlotte Observer.

What if a child who disrupts class and tunes out teachers is traumatized, rather than defiant?

“Too often, teachers and school leaders respond to misbehavior by asking, ‘What’s wrong with you?,’ when instead they should be asking, ‘What happened to you?,’ ” says a new report from the Public School Forum of North Carolina.


The Raleigh-based forum is a nonpartisan research and advocacy group created by political, education and business leaders from around the state. “Expanding Educational Opportunity in North Carolina” is the result of a yearlong study of the biggest barriers to quality education for all students.

Problems like poverty and racism, highlighted in the report, are well known and thoroughly discussed, even if solutions remain elusive. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is working on a student assignment plan that promotes socioeconomic diversity, a strategy endorsed by the forum report. Many employees have done training to recognize and counteract racial biases, and the school board is reviewing racial disparities in suspension for young children.

Researchers have long been familiar with the lasting effects of exposure to violence, neglect and family turmoil on children. Now people who are serious about public policy are taking an increased interest in how childhood trauma shapes education and public safety.

“You can’t legislate the home. You can’t control how kids come to you. You do have a responsibility to respond to them in the condition they come,” said James Ford, a Charlotte-based Public School Forum staffer, pictured above.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

To view the Action Plan and Recommendations for the Study Group XVI Committee on Trauma & Learning, click here.

For the full study group publication, released last week, click here.

Excerpt from:
Helms, A. “In North Carolina we talk about race and poverty in education. But what about trauma?” The Charlotte Observer. 10/27/16.

This Weekend on Education Matters: The $50,000 Question

This week’s episode of Education Matters, the Forum’s weekly television program airing on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on WRAL-TV, asks the $50,000 question – will teachers really make on average $50,000 next year? 
There’s probably no subject that has generated more headlines and more debate over the last few years than teacher pay. How much should teachers earn? Where do we rank? Forum President & Executive Director Keith Poston explores these questions and more with the following guests this weekend on Education Matters:
  • Mark Binker, Reporter, WRAL News
  • Alexis Schauss, Director of School Business Administration,  NC Department Of Public Instruction
  • Bobbie Cavnar, 2016-2017 NC Teacher of the Year
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Previous episodes of the show have covered NC’s teacher pipeline, declining school resources, and expanding educational opportunity.
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.

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.

State News

Robeson Students Set to Return to Class on Monday

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Floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew cover Interstate 95 and homes and businesses in Lumberton on October 12. Photo Credit: The Associated Press.

After three weeks off, students in the Public Schools of Robeson County will return to class on Monday.

All Robeson public schools have been closed since October 10 in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Several schools were flooded, while others suffered tree damage and served as emergency shelters for those who were displaced by the storm.

All students will resume class on Monday, although some will report to different locations.

Students at West Lumberton Elementary, the hardest hit by flooding, will go to Lumberton Junior High School. Students at W.H. Knuckles, which was also damaged by flooding, will attend class at that school but students who would normally go to the kindergarten and first-grade wing, which was flooded, will go to the school’s main building. Lunches will be transported to the school because of flood-damage in the cafeteria.

The return to school has been delayed as Robeson county officials assessed damage to school facilities and to Robeson County roads. With 81 roads still affected by storm-related closures, bus routes and bus stops will be changed. According to the school system, principals will contact parents to let them know if their students’ stop or route will change. The Public Schools of Robeson County Transportation Department is working on a bus route plan.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed an executive order calling on legislators to give schools that were closed because of the storm some leeway on the state requirement that students be in school at least 185 days or 1,025 hours each year. The governor also requested that school boards not schedule makeup days until after legislators reconvene in January.

Principal Pay Slated for Possible Overhaul

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A joint legislative study committee on school-based administrator pay unveiled Monday a preliminary proposal to reform the way North Carolina pays its principals.

The committee, co-chaired by Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, and Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, presented a plan that would eliminate the principal salary schedule and replace it with an allotment that superintendents can use as they see fit to hire principals. Currently, North Carolina is 50th in the nation (including Washington, D.C) for principal pay.

“If we’re 50th in the nation, what we’re doing isn’t the best way to go about getting the best principal in the best location,” Tillman said.

The allotment for principals would be based on statewide average principal pay. The salary schedule for assistant principals would also be scrapped and replaced with a new salary schedule.

In addition, the plan would increase average pay for principals and assistant principals, and provide funds for performance bonuses and to reduce the pay gap between high-wealth and low-wealth school districts.

Tillman said the total amount of money available from the state for principal and assistant principal pay would need to go up about three to five percent “at a minimum.” But he also said between $8 and $10 million would be needed above and beyond that to use for performance bonuses.

Click here and here to see details about the proposed plan.

EducationNC documented the problems with the principal salary schedule in January 2015. These include principals who have to wait years for raises from the state, teachers who are paid more than their principals, and principals jumping between districts to get a better local salary supplement. Alexis Schauss, director of the Division of School Business at the State Department of Public Instruction, presented Monday about the salary schedule issues. View her presentation document here. Click here for a history of the school-based administrator salary schedule in North Carolina.

The committee brought together a group of superintendents and others to review and comment on the proposed plan. In attendance were:

  • Dr. Stephen Gainey, Superintendent Randolph County Schools
  • Dr. Beverly Emery, Superintendent Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
  • Dr. Frank Till, Jr., Superintendent Cumberland County Schools
  • Dr. Pascal Mubenga, Superintendent Franklin County Schools
  • Katherine Joyce, Executive Director, NC Association of School Administrators
  • Leanne Winner, Legislative Director, NC School Boards Association

Overall, the panelists said they liked some aspects of the plan but would prefer not to scrap a principal salary schedule altogether.

Till said, particularly in a large school district, that it would be difficult to negotiate with every single principal, and that he worried the system could get out of hand. “I’m worried about the inequities,” he said. “People come and suddenly want to get more. And it’s not hard before you can get that off track real easy.”

Shirley Prince, executive director of the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals’ Association, was in the audience at Monday’s meeting and said in an interview that she agreed with the panelists. “Without a solid base salary, you would have all sorts of disparities amongst principals from county to county,” she said. “That could really create some difficulties trying to recruit strong teachers into school leadership positions.”

Tillman said the goal of the committee was to develop a budget provision that could be introduced in the upcoming long session of the General Assembly. He told the panelists the committee would take their ideas into consideration and incorporate them in some way for discussion at the next committee meeting. He predicted there would likely be at least three meetings of the committee.

For a chart showing statistics on pay and local supplements for principals and assistant principals around the state, click here.

To view videos from the committee meeting and to read the complete Education NC article, click here.

Reprinted from:

Granados, A. “Principal pay slated for possible overhaul.” EducationNC. 10/26/16.

Judge Howard Manning Steps Away from Landmark Education Case

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Superior Court Judge Howard Manning. Photo Credit: Chris Seward, News & Observer.

Judge Howard Manning will no longer oversee Leandro v. State, the landmark education lawsuit that he has presided over for nearly 20 years.

Manning made a request to be removed from the case, and Chief Justice Mark Martin reassigned it on Oct. 7 to Emergency Superior Court Judge David Lee, according to Sharon Gladwell, communications director at the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. 

Melanie Dubis, who represents the plaintiffs in Leandro, and Mark Dorosin, an attorney working on the case for the UNC Center for Civil Rights, said Thursday that they had no knowledge of the development and therefore could not comment. Both expressed shock over the news and concern that they hadn’t been notified. Solicitor General John Maddrey also did not return a message seeking comment about the case.

Jane Wettach, director of the children’s law clinic at Duke University, said she also had not been informed about the change of judgeship. She said she is not familiar with Lee’s work. “Judges and their personalities and the way they handle things makes a big difference and it certainly could change the course of things, but how it might is really difficult for me to say without knowing anything about Judge Lee,” she said.

Lee retired Feb. 1 from District 20B in Union County in Monroe, though his term doesn’t expire until 2018. He had either been practicing law or on the bench for more than 40 years, but there isn’t much more information readily available about his work. Lee’s clerk, Jessica Mangum, said Thursday that he was not immediately available for comment. She said his office received an order from the Chief Justice via email that had been signed Oct. 7.

Manning retired in July 2015, but continued to preside over hearings related to compliance with Leandro, which he was originally assigned to in 1997 by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell.

Leandro requires that all North Carolina students have a right to a “sound, basic education.” The case has also been the flashpoint for debates about early childhood programs for at-risk kids and the call for more services and support for low-income schools.

“Every One of Us Can Play a Role”

Eric Holder Campaigns to Reduce Childhood Trauma

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In a meeting at the White House last week, former Attorney General Eric Holder announces launch of

“Changing Minds” campaign to increase awareness of, and reduce, childhood violence and trauma.

Photo Credit: David Sckrabulis, Office of Justice Programs.

Many who study crime believe that those who become criminals were exposed to violent or lawless behavior in childhood, not to mention the long-term psychological or physical damage such trauma can cause to all children. In 2015, the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention published a survey which found that about 58 percent of all children in America had either witnessed or been a victim of crime in the previous year, to include not only violent acts but property crimes, sibling abuse and bullying. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder launched a program in 2010 called Defending Childhood, and last week Holder announced the launch of “Changing Minds,” to help adults heal children exposed to trauma. The former attorney general explains further:

Text below by Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Imagine that in a given year, more than half of American adults – let’s say three in every five – experience violence, either as victims or as witnesses. What would be your reaction? My guess is that it would fall somewhere on a scale between skepticism (that violence could be so prevalent) and outrage. It would motivate us to action. We would pass laws. We would commission research to determine causes. We would take steps to make our homes and communities safer. In short, we would – I hope – do something.

So how would you respond if you learned that it isn’t adults who are exposed to violence at these rates, but children? The most recent National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence found that, in fact, 58 percent of children in this country have encountered some form of violence, abuse or trauma during the previous year, either directly as victims or indirectly as witnesses. Almost half report suffering more than one type of direct or witnessed victimization. Almost one in six report six or more experiences with violence. And one in 20 have encountered violence 10 or more times. Nearly one in 12 children have seen one family member assault another.

These statistics are deeply troubling and should be unacceptable in a country so rich in opportunity and generous with its blessings as the United States of America. Sadly, exposure to violence is a reality for far too many of our kids, and it affects them physically, emotionally and psychologically. It causes both immediate distress and long-term neurological harm. Exposure to violence reshapes the brain and can cause damage that lasts far into the future.

Thankfully, beyond this dark reality is a brighter prospect. Children are remarkably resilient. The malleability of their brains gives them an advantage in recovery, and they are capable of bouncing back from even the most traumatic experiences as long as they receive proper care and support. And every one of us can play a role in helping them heal. A new national public awareness campaign launched last week will show us how.

NC Students Improve Science Achievement

North Carolina fourth and eighth grade students showed improvement in science achievement in 2015, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results released today. Fourth graders scored on par with the nation, and eighth graders scored lower than their national counterparts.

North Carolina fourth and eighth graders were tested in science in 2015 as part of the ongoing review of science achievement in the states and nation. The NAEP science assessment was first administered in 2009.

In 2015, the average score of fourth grade students in North Carolina was 154, up from 148 in 2009. This was not significantly different from the average score of 153 for public school students in the nation.

Thirty-six percent of North Carolina fourth grade students scored at the Proficient level or above, up from 30 percent in 2009. More students also scored at the Basic level (76 percent) when compared with 69 percent in 2009.

Eighth graders also improved their performance between 2009 and 2015. The average score for eighth graders in North Carolina was 150, an increase over the 2009 average score of 144. North Carolina’s eighth graders scored lower than the national average score of 153.

Thirty-one percent of North Carolina eighth grade students scored at or above the Proficient level, also an improvement over the 2009 figure of 24 percent. The percentage of students scoring at or above the Basic level increased as well from 56 percent in 2009 to 64 percent in 2015.

“Congratulations to our elementary and middle schools’ teachers for continuing to focus on science achievement,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson. “Science is a key component to a well-rounded education in today’s economy and society. I expect to see North Carolina’s science achievement continue to increase in the coming years.”

NAEP scores showed that male and female students scored similarly at both fourth and eighth grade. Gaps among Black, Hispanic, White, and Economically Disadvantaged student groups continue to persist although there were small improvements over time.

In addition to average scores, NAEP reports on the percentage of students performing at various achievement levels (Basic, Proficient and Advanced) set by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). Proficient on the NAEP scale represents competency over challenging subject matter.

Results are available for the 46 states and the Department of Defense school system that volunteered to participate at grades 4 and 8 (no state-level data is available at grade 12). Compared to 2009, 18 states saw score increases, and one state declined, at grade 4. At grade 8, 24 states saw score increases while no states had score declines since 2009. Fifteen states/jurisdictions experienced significant score gains at both grades 4 and 8 compared to 2009.

NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in the United States know and can do in various subject areas. It is known as the “gold standard” of large-scale student assessments. Between January and March 2015, the NAEP science assessment was given to approximately 115,400 fourth-graders, 110,900 eighth-graders. In North Carolina, 2,500 fourth graders and 2,400 eighth graders were tested. Because a sampling of students is tested, there are no local results to report.

The science assessment is comprised of three content areas: physical science, Earth and space sciences, and life science. The NAEP scale for science scores range from 0-300. You can find more information about what students can do at each achievement level by grade on the science assessment online.

Reprinted from:
NCDPI. “NC Students Improve Science Achievement, According to NAEP.” 10/27/16.

Questions Mount about Lab Schools in NC

A legislative mandate for experimental public schools at UNC is moving forward, but not without anxiety about the time line and questions about how the new schools would operate.

Last week, about 70 university and public school officials met in Chapel Hill to try to hammer out a plan for the schools. The state budget required eight UNC campuses to establish so-called lab schools – essentially charter schools that would serve kindergarten through 8th grade students.

The lab schools would have to be located in districts that have at least one-quarter of their schools classified as low-performing, to “expand student opportunities for educational success through high-quality instructional programming and innovative instruction and research by using the resources available at the constituent institution,” according to the budget language.

The directive from the Senate was included in the final budget compromise, but was not sought by UNC. Leaders in the UNC system’s Faculty Assembly called the legislation an unfunded mandate, an intrusion into curriculum and “an unprecedented and unjustified overreach into the management of UNC institutions.”

There are also practical concerns. Last week several members of the UNC Board of Governors said the time line was too aggressive. The law requires that four be established for the 2017-18 school year and four more in 2018-19.

“To get a school up and running in eight months is mind boggling,” said Anna Spangler Nelson, who chairs the UNC board’s committee on education planning, policies and programs.

Others have raised questions about the governance of the schools. University boards of trustees would oversee the schools and hire teachers and employees, who would become university employees. Trustees would also appoint an advisory board made up of faculty, the education dean, parents, a community member and a student. The legislation requires university trustees to establish school calendars, the standard course of study and other policies, yet most members don’t have experience in running public schools. Trustee boards only meet four to six times a year.

Gabriel Lugo, a professor at UNC Wilmington and head of the UNC Faculty Assembly, said the legislation puts boards of trustees in the position of operating as school boards, something they aren’t prepared to do. “I think we should push back really hard and create something that is constructive,” he said.

Such schools would operate outside of the local school district, but the districts would pay out money to support the students and would have to provide meals and transportation. Frank Gilliam, chancellor of UNC Greensboro, said he was a fan of lab schools, explaining that his children had attended them in another state. But he cautioned that there’s been no time for collaboration with school districts.

To continue reading the complete article, click here

Excerpt from: 

Stancill, J. “Concern grows about lab schools at UNC.” The News & Observer. 10/20/16.

National News

When is a Student “Gifted” or “Disabled”? A New Study Shows Racial Bias Plays a Role in Deciding

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Fourth-grade students at Brownsville Ascend Lower Charter School in Brooklyn.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Snyder, Chalkbeat.

Racial bias among educators may play a larger role than previously understood in deciding whether students are referred for special education or gifted programs, according to new research from NYU.

The study, the first of its kind to show a direct link between teacher bias and referrals for special services, found stark differences in how teachers classify students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds showing identical signs of disability or giftedness. 

Teachers were more likely to see academic shortfalls as disabilities among white students, even when students of color demonstrated the same deficits. They tended to see these struggles as “problems to fix,” the study explains, if students were white. And students of color were more likely be referred for special-education testing when they had emotional or behavioral issues compared with identical white peers — and were less likely to be identified as gifted.

Those findings may help inform a debate that has divided researchers: Is special education racist if students of color tend to represent a greater share of its population? Or do problems associated with poverty that can affect cognitive development (lead exposure, for instance) mean that students of color might actually be underrepresented in special education settings?

The study, which is set to appear in the journal Social Science Research, doesn’t resolve that debate. But it does offer evidence that bias plays a role in both over- and under-classifying students for certain services.

“The issue is that racism affects all of us, and teachers are in positions of power,” said Rachel Fish, the study’s author and a professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School.

Educators are an important focus because they are responsible for about 75 percent of all referrals for gifted or special ed programs, according to the report. And in the vast majority of cases, the evaluation process confirms a teacher’s suspicion.

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

New CEEP Report Analyzes How School Vouchers are Funded

A new publication from the Center for Evaluation & Education Policy at the Indiana University School of Education compares the funding mechanisms of school voucher programs in Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia and the interaction of these mechanisms with overarching school funding formulas.

The cross-case review is part of a larger report, including detailed profiles of each individual case and data visualizations.

The publication, “Follow the Money: A Comprehensive Review of the Funding Mechanisms of Voucher Programs in Six Cases,” examines the impact of policies on voucher funding, contrasts eligibility criteria and considers the impact of these criteria on state spending and district revenues. The review is co-authored by CEEP research associate Molly S. Stewart and graduate research assistant Jodi S. Moon.

The methods of funding school vouchers are of particular policy concern since they entail using government money to pay tuition to private schools. Publicly funded voucher programs — money awarded to a student for the purpose of private school tuition — have become considerably more prevalent in recent years. The funding design of each voucher program differs, and each program interacts with its respective state-level school funding formula to create a variety of impacts on funding sources such as state aid and local district tax revenues.

“The impacts on state and local expenditures and revenues are more complex than previous aggregate economic analyses have suggested,” Stewart said. “Policymakers need to be aware of how specific voucher policy designs can impact funding at multiple levels.”

Moon said, “The way a school district’s student count interacts with voucher funding varies depending on the state’s policy regarding how school enrollment is counted, and the available data allow us to unpack these relationships in most cases. The impact is less clear as it pertains to the relationship between student counts and categorical funding, such as special education and poverty-based assistance. We believe more research is warranted in this area.”

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.

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.

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