Day: May 29, 2012

Senate Leader Phil Berger made several adjustments to the Excellent Public Schools Act before Tuesday’s committee hearing, but Senate Democrats found more room for improvement.

Wake County Senator Josh Stein said he was troubled by Part III of the bill, which would issue a letter grade for each public school. Stein worried certain achievements could be overlooked under this rating system, leaving parents with a less than accurate assessment of their local public school.

“This I feel is part of a trend, disparaging public education to set up an environment where by it makes sense to have school vouchers for private school,” argued Stein.”This just seems too simplistic and too punitive in my opinion.”

Senator Floyd McKissick of Durham County questioned why another part of the legislation would strip away public financing for the state Superintendent of Public Instruction race.

Finally,  Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt of Buncombe County chastised Berger for eliminating effective teacher training programs last year, while trying to make it easier to dismiss educators this year under this bill.

Despite their concerns, the committee advanced Senator Berger’s bill on a voice vote to the the Senate appropriations and finance committee .

To hear more of Tuesday’s debate on Senate Bill 795, click below:

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Cross-posted from the blog of national education expert Diane Ravitch:

Profits, Not Better Education

An article in a publication called “The Financial Investigator” took a close look at K12, the for-profit online “education” corporation whose growth had made it a darling of Wall Street. The article paid particular attention to the “churn rate” at K12 online schools. That is, how many students left in a given year. In the Ohio Virtual Academy of K12, a staggering 51% of students turned over in a single year. That helps to explain why the name of the game for the for-profit online academies is recruitment. So long as the corporations can keep their numbers up, they will collect tuition money from the state, usually double their real costs.

The more the for-profit academies churn, the more they earn. And every dollar they collect comes right out of the public school budget. Read More

Just in from the Director of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center, Alexandra Sirota:

Relying on one-time funds and failing to really address revenue will hinder North Carolina’s prospects for growth

The House budget proposal, while acknowledging the need for state reinvestment in a few key public structures supporting North Carolina’s future, continues to fall short of meeting the needs of our communities in this economic recovery.

Moreover, legislative leaders have chosen to rely on $815 million in one-time money to meet the state’s recurring needs in education, health, safety, and infrastructure. While this budget may appear to address North Carolina’s most immediate fiscal challenges, it is at best a temporary fix, one that is neither Read More

Good government groups urged the NC Senate on Tuesday to allow House Bill 824 (Redistricting Reform) to be heard in the short session.

The legislation, currently being held up in the Rules Committee, would set up an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process similar to the system used in Iowa.

But less than an hour after those advocates spoke out out against the present system that often results in gerrymandering, Senate President Phil Berger said the state Senate was unlikely to revisit redistricting, having gone through it just last year.

Asked by WRAL reporter Laura Leslie when would be the right time to take up nonpartisan redistricting – Senator Berger paused, smiled and said, “Well, not this year.”

For more on today’s redistricting discussion, click below and be sure to read the Fitzsimon File: “The amnesia of political power

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The Howard and Lillian Lee Scholars Academy won’t be ready to open this fall, and hopes to defer its opening to the 2013-14 school year.

(This is an update to a May 21st post that the school was debating not opening  — it’s now definite that it won’t.).

The proposed school, which will be run by for-profit charter operator National Heritage Academies, encountered some issue finding property in the Chapel Hill area for the school, said Joe DeBenetteo, a Michigan-based spokesman for the charter school company.

The school notified the N.C. Department of Public Instruction recently about its decision not to open, and has applied for chance to open the following year.

The Lee school had been one of the nine charter schools approved as part of a “fast-track” process the N.C. State Board of Education adopted after the N.C. General Assembly did away with a 100-schoool cap on charter schools in the state.

In its application to the state, the Lee school said it wanted to target the achievement gap for minority students in the Chapel Hill school district, but drew opposition from Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district leaders, as well as local chapters of the NAACP.