Education historian Diane Ravitch weighs in on her blog this week about the latest educational reform efforts proposed in North Carolina, and she doesn’t hold back.
Read this parent newsletter. It is sad. It is outrageous.
North Carolina is near the bottom of the national barrel in funding its public schools. Teacher salaries are near the bottom nationally. Legislators want charter schools, tax credits, vouchers for special education, vouchers for all.
Why the passion to eliminate the engine of social mobility and economic progress? Why the mad dash back to the past? This won’t be good for education or excellence or equity.
Will Secretary Duncan or President Obama hurry to North Carolina and urge the legislators to stop their assault on public education? The time is now. There is a fierce urgency to now.’
Ravitch issued similar warnings when she spoke at NC Policy Watch’s Crucial Conversation in March.
The Senate Education Committee gave tentative approval Wednesday to legislation that would end a policy of restricting class size in grades K-3, allowing school districts more flexibility in how they allocate their resources.
“I don’t know if ten kids in a classroom is better than 15 or not,” said Senator Jerry Tillman, a primary sponsor of Senate Bill 374. “I don’t know what that ideal number is and neither do you. What I do know is that if I have the flexibility to put that into computers, materials, staff training, I can do more with a finite or shrinking pot of money.”
Senator Angela Bryant voiced concern about the impact of this on low-wealth districts, and questioned how this increased flexibility might be tied to results.
Sen. Tillman responded:
“There’s no need to tie your test scores to anything else. They will stand for themselves, and we will know whether you made progress or not. And if the flexibility helps you make progress and you can say ‘I think this helped’ we will take a look at it. It does not say that you will be punished if you don’t, but let me tell you clearly they get that impression since they’re gonna have to do a report annually now on how they did, on their test scores. The hammer is there.”
The N.C. Association of Educators urged the committee to pilot the approach before rolling it out statewide.
Senate Bill 374 (NC Public Schools Budget Flexibility Act) passed on a voice vote and now moves the the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Click below to watch a portion of Wednesday’s committee meeting:
A divided House Education Committee approved legislation (25-10) Tuesday that would offer parents with special-needs children grants up to $6,000 a year to enroll their children in private school and receive daily special education services.
Supporters say it’s about choice for the parents and the child.
Legislators critical of House Bill 269 argued the bill would only serve to drain more resources from public schools and could even be used for home schooled children.
Rep. Mickey Michaux said the money ($3000 per semester) would not be enough to fully cover the cost of tuition at a private school, leaving many low-income families out in the cold.
Rep. Paul Stam, a primary sponsor of the bill, suggested private schools would be “perfectly happy to work with parents if they know the money is coming.”
Rep. Larry D. Hall cautioned some parents might be pushed into loans they could ill afford with the hope that would give them the up-front money needed to enroll their child in a private school.
“The parents become sought after and recruited to bring their children to a school they cannot afford, then somehow financing is arranged through some other third party or service, and the parents end up being on the hook for the money that’s supposed to be reimburse,” said Rep. Hall.
The bill, which would provide nearly $3.7 million for the scholarships in the 2013-14 fiscal year, now heads to the House Finance Committee.
The House Education Committee will take up the Education Improvement Act of 2013 this morning at the legislature.
Rep. Rick Glazier, a primary sponsor on HB 719, talked with Chris Fitzsimon over the weekend on News and Views about teacher pay and the idea of an A-F grading system for North Carolina’s public schools.
Click below to hear a portion of that radio interview or visit the Policy Watch website, where you can down load a podcast of the full interview: