Public School Forum of North Carolina Set to Kick Off Study Group XVI on Educational Opportunity

Study Group Co-Chairs, Committee Chairs Named

RALEIGH, NC (October 19, 2015) – More than 100 stakeholders representing business, education, government, academia and the non-profit community will gather at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh on Wednesday as the Public School Forum of North Carolina kicks off Study Group XVI focusing on educational opportunity. The study group will examine what it would take to provide every child in North Carolina the opportunity to receive a sound basic education.

Study Group XVI continues the Forum’s practice of engaging with major, timely education issues by bringing together stakeholders and subject matter experts to distill collective knowledge on crucial topics to reader-friendly reports and other publications containing specific calls to action. The Forum announced that Dr. Michael D. Priddy and Dr. Dudley E. Flood will serve as co-chairs of the Study Group.

Dr. Priddy retired from a 35-year career in education which began as a math teacher in Northampton County, N.C., and culminated with Superintendent of Pitt County Schools in Greenville, N.C.  During those years, Priddy served in just about every capacity of leadership in North Carolina school systems, having spent the bulk of his career in Guilford County. Since retiring, Dr. Priddy has focused his efforts on helping school systems increase their funding for technology through his work with E-RATE.  He has also served as interim superintendent in two rural North Carolina systems. Upon retirement, Dr. Priddy was awarded the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2005, and he is the recipient of a long list of awards. He currently serves as Chairman of the Public School Forum Board of Directors.

Dr. Flood began his career as a teacher of math, science, and English at the eighth-grade level. He later taught high school social studies and coached high school basketball and football. He served for three years as a principal before joining the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as a specialist in school desegregation and race relations, helping lead the state’s efforts to integrate our public schools. After 21 years of service with the Department, he retired and then served for more than five years as Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators. Dr. Flood has received more than 350 awards for civic service, including having been presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by three different Governors. He is a member of the Public School Forum Board of Directors.

The Public School Forum also announced the topics and co-chairs of the study group’s three committees, all of which will address the study group’s driving question: “What would it take to provide every child in North Carolina with the opportunity to receive a sound basic education?”

The Committee on Racial Equity will be chaired by Deena Hayes-Greene and Alfred Mays. Ms. Hayes-Greene is a trainer, consultant, and coach with the Greensboro-based Racial Equity Initiative. She is currently in her fourth term as a member of the Guilford County Board of Education. Mr. Mays is the program officer at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. From 2007-2011, he served as the assistant director of the Collaborative Project, an initiative that “sought to strengthen participating school systems serving low-income students in rural areas.”

The Committee on Trauma & Learning will be chaired by Dr. Katie Rosanbalm and Nation Hahn. Dr. Rosanbalm is a Research Scholar with the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. She is currently involved in a number of projects to enhance long-term outcomes for children with trauma histories. Mr. Hahn is a Senior Advisor and Columnist for EdNC. Previously, as Director of Engagement at Raleigh-based New Kind, Mr. Hahn served as Senior Online Strategist for the Coalition to Protect All NC Families campaign.

The Committee on Low-Performing Schools will be chaired by Representative Graig Meyer and Dr. M. Jayne Fleener. Representative Meyer is a member of the North Carolina General Assembly House of Representatives, serving portions of Orange and Durham Counties. He is also a co-founder and principal consultant with The Equity Collaborative, LLC, and previously served as Director of Student Equity for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Dr. Fleener was Dean of the College of Education at N.C. State University from 2010 through June 2015. Prior to that, she was dean at Louisiana State University for almost six years.

“We settled on these three topics after extensive input from our Board and Membership as well as survey responses from experts in the field,” said Forum President and Executive Director Keith Poston. “As our public schools continue doing the tough work every day to give every student in the state the opportunity to receive a sound basic education, these issues will be front and center, in the 2016 legislative ‘short session’ and for the foreseeable future.”

A fourth topic area—school funding—will be the subject of a separate year-long Public School Forum Working Group beginning in November.

The Study Group XVI Kickoff Event on Wednesday will feature introductions from Study Group Co-Chairs; a presentation from Ann W. McColl of Everett Gaskins Hancock on the history of educational opportunity in the state; introductions to each of the Study Group’s three topic areas; and a call to action from the Forum’s Program Director James E. Ford, former North Carolina Teacher of the Year. Ford and Joe Ableidinger, the Forum’s Senior Director of Policy & Programs, will lead the work of the Study Group.

The Forum has vetted and selected experts to participate in Study Group XVI—including teachers, school leaders, district and state education officials, legislators, business leaders, academics, and representatives of education-focused nonprofits and advocacy organizations. After the kickoff event, committees will meet once a month for 3-4 months. These meetings will provide opportunities for committee members to work with subject-matter experts to analyze the current state of play for their topics and develop recommendations for new policies and programs aimed at addressing crucial challenges.

The work of the three committees will culminate in a report on educational opportunity to be released in Spring 2016, cataloguing each committee’s findings and recommendations and identifying synergies among them that may lead to powerful new policies and programs. Building on the study group’s report, a new Forum initiative, the North Carolina Center for Educational Opportunity, will serve as the vehicle through which the Forum and its partners will operationalize the study group’s recommendations through specific policy proposals and programs.

About the Public School Forum of North Carolina

Since 1986, the Public School Forum of North Carolina has been an indispensable and nonpartisan champion of better schools and the most trusted source in the state for research and analysis on vital education issues. We bring together leaders from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus, and ultimately inform and shape education policy. We do that through research, policy work, innovative programs, advocacy, and continuing education for educators and policymakers. Follow us on Twitter @theNCForum and visit our website at http://www.ncforum.org/

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