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Future of public education in jeopardy

In case you missed yesterday’s edition of the Fitzsimon File, please take a minute to read it. The column highlights a remarkable and much underreported situation currently underway in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Put bluntly, the future of public education in our state is under a sustained and stealth attack. Led by ultra-right-wing crusaders like House Majority Leader Paul Stam, conservative legislators are attempting to slip a series of fundamental (and hugely regressive) changes to our public education system into the budget bill — with essentially no public debate.

Stam has already succeeded in placing a prettified voucher plan into the House version of the budget and now, as talks between the House and Senate heat up on a final deal, there is lots of talk that the final budget may include numerous provisions from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s controversial K-12 overhaul plan.

While some of Berger’s idea may have merit and deserve discussion, the idea that powerful lawmakers are slipping all of these fundmental changes into a short session budget bill without any meaningful public discussion ought to anger anyone who cares about democracy.

You can read the entire column by clicking here.

8 Comments

  1. frances

    June 8, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Some of the things that should be in jeopardy, 66% of fourth graders are not reading on grade level, 70% of students entering the community college must take remediation classes, and 22% of students do not graduate. All this funded under the old system.

    Nothing contributes more to poverty than a poor education. Come on Chris and Rob, we must start caring about students.

  2. david esmay

    June 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Frances, you’re pulling numbers out of your back side. NC Dept of Education stats, 4th grade math 83.85 at or above grade level. 71.6% are at or above reading level. This is for all students, but if you break it down by ethnicity, minority kids need help. How does a voucher system help black and hispanic kids? It doesn’t, let’s call it what it is, just another form of segregation. Our present system, while not perfect, has improved reading and math skills and graduation rates, but instead of jumping in and helping teachers, the GOTP has, and continues efforts to cut their throats.

  3. gregflynn

    June 8, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Frances is apparently using a statistic out of context and incorrectly, namely the NC score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

    NAEP reading achievement-level descriptions present expectations of student performance in relation to a range of text types and text difficulty and in response to a variety of assessment questions intended to elicit different cognitive processes and reading behaviors.

    NAEP achievement levels are cumulative; therefore, student performance at the Proficient level includes the competencies associated with the Basic level, and the Advanced level also includes the skills and knowledge associated with both the Basic and the Proficient levels.

    In 2011 68% of NC students performed at or above the NAEP Basic Level, which is pretty much the national average. This includes the 34% who performed at or above NAEP Proficient level and . By erroneous selection and subtraction of only the Proficient Level Frances is incorrectly inferring that 66% are not reading at grade level. According to the NAEP:

    Fourth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to locate relevant information, make simple inferences, and use their understanding of the text to identify details that support a given interpretation or conclusion. Students should be able to interpret the meaning of a word as it is used in the text.

    and

    Fourth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to integrate and interpret texts and apply their understanding of the text to draw conclusions and make evaluations.

    As to community college remediation, students come out of high school with a broad range of skills. Most of the “remediation” consists of short periods of tailoring of those skills to meet the specific needs of courses being taken. We wouldn’t say that most of the suits on a rack need repair simply because they are adjusted to fit the wearer.

  4. Jeff S

    June 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Frances, even if your numbers were correct, I fail to see your point.

    The Republican agenda is NOT to improve education for everyone. Instead, it is an effort to improve education for a select few. Yes, the system is broken – but the measures being proposed are not an effort to improve it.

    The voucher program is a kickback to people who are already outside of the system. If you want to improve the system for everyone involved, I’m with you.

  5. Alex

    June 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    The doomsayers were saying the same thing in Wisconsin , but new reports show great improvement in the schools after Governor Walker’s reforms, with much additional funding available after reducing the union requirements on salaries and healthcare benefits..

  6. gregflynn

    June 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Scott Walker took office January 2011. He only signed his education legislation in late March 2012. In 2.5 months “new reports show great improvement”? Somebody started drinking before 5pm.

  7. Alex

    June 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Check out today’s Wall Street journal greg !

  8. gregflynn

    June 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I read the WSJ before I commented and it said nothing about academic achievement in WI.