Andre Peek (L) and Tammy Covil (R) serve on the Academic Standards Review Commission.

Andre Peek (L) and Tammy Covil (R) serve on the Academic Standards Review Commission.

The state commission charged with reviewing and replacing the Common Core State Standards seems to be losing some of its momentum. Meeting for the third time since their appointment, commission members acknowledged Monday that without a dedicated budget it would be near impossible to bring in experts and accurately assess what benchmarks students should master.

The Raleigh News & Observer noted the frustration of Governor McCrory’s own appointment to the Academic Standards Review Commission:

“We are running out of time,” said Co-Chairman Andre Peek, an IBM executive from Raleigh. “This needs to be solved soon. We need money to bring in professionals.”

And as WUNC’s Reema Khrias reports, Peek’s not the only one annoyed by the current state of affairs:

“The lack of funding sort of communicates – to me – that there are very low expectations from this commission. If we can’t get some funding, most of the changes we’ll be recommending will be anecdotal,” said Tammy Covil, a New Hanover County school board member.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, a key proponent of repealing the Common Core standards, plans to meet with top legislative leaders in the coming weeks to try to line-up resources for the panel.

The Academic Standards Review Commission holds its final meeting of the year on December 15th.

Click here to read the legislation that calls on North Carolina to replace Common Core and establish its own robust standards that must be “age-level and developmentally appropriate.”


If you missed last week’s Fitzsimon File on North Carolina’s looming teacher shortage, make time this week to listen to Policy Watch’s recent radio interview with Keith Poston, executive director of the Public School Forum.  Poston discusses North Carolina’s troubling teacher turnover rate and how to retain our best educators.

For a preview of Poston’s radio interview click below. Download the podcast of the full interview here.

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Tillis_McCrory_Berger-400Governor Pat McCrory and two of his predecessors have filed suit against the General Assembly, arguing that their creation of various commissions usurps the authority of the governor’s office and violates the separation of powers clause in the North Carolina Constitution.

“These commissions make government less accountable to the will of the people. Citizens and voters must be able to distinguish which branch of government is responsible for making the laws and which branch is responsible for carrying out the laws and operating state government,” Governor McCrory said in a press release.

McCrory said recent examples of unaccountable commissions include the proposed Board of the Department of Medical Benefits, the proposed Social Services Commission and North Carolina’s Coal Ash Commission, which will hold its first meeting Friday.

The governor says while the case winds its way through the court system, the legal dispute will not hinder his ‘shared agenda’ with the General Assembly.

Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis responded by saying Governor McCrory’s arguments were flawed from both a legal and public policy perspective.

Here’s the joint statement released by the two legislative leaders:

“Today the governor sued to stop independent boards created in two bills – one he chose to sign and another he allowed to become law. He vetoed neither,” said Berger and Tillis. “The General Assembly’s right to appoint members to independent boards – which are beholden to no single appointing authority and provide truly independent oversight – is far from new and has long been upheld by our state Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the governor’s costly and time-consuming lawsuit to ensure he picks the majority of regulatory board members ignores history and detracts from their important work.”

You can read the 18-page complaint here.


A group of Wilmington-area charter schools has given up on its fight to keep secret the salary information of its employees.

On Thursday, Charter Day turned over the data requested more than a month ago by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, allowing the management company to be removed from “financial probationary status” which had threatened state funding.

Despite marking the documents trade secrets, the Wilmington Star-News reports that salary information will be made public early next week:

‘The state Thursday said it intends to make the salary information provided by Charter Day public even though the school group had marked it as “trade secrets.”tradesecret

In an email, DPI spokeswoman Lynda Fuller said the state intends to release the information at 5 p.m. Monday.

There’s a standard provision with state contracts that if during the bidding process a vendor marks something as a trade secret that officials don’t find as a trade secret there is a 48-hour delay before that information can be released.

That’s the practice officials are employing here, according to DPI officials.’

Charter Day contracts with Roger Bacon Academies to operate its school in Leland as well as Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, Douglass Academy in Wilmington and South Brunswick Charter School in Bolivia.

There are currently 148 public charter schools open in North Carolina with 11 additional schools hoping to open their doors in August of 2015.

As the Charter School Advisory Board prepares to discuss charter school renewals for 2015 at its Thursday meeting, Education Week examines what happens when things don’t go well and a state is confronted with a charter school closure. Here’s an excerpt from Arianna Prothero’s article:

charterschoolsAlthough closure rates for charter schools nationally have fluctuated over the past five years, according to survey data collected by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the number has stabilized, and NACSA doesn’t expect it to go down. If anything, the organization said in a 2013 report, closures may rise because of growing pressure on authorizers to close underperforming schools, and the effect of state laws that do so automatically.

For the most part, charters are closed when authorizers choose to not renew their contracts at the end of the term limit, most often because of poor academic performance and financial reasons. More than 15.7 percent of charter school contracts were up for renewal during the 2012-13 school year, and of those, 11.6 percent were denied. For charters outside their renewal period, the closure rate was 1.9 percent in that school year, according to NACSA.

Whatever the justification for closure, the decision to shut a school down is perhaps the easy part; execution is a different story. Read More