This just in from Raleigh’s News & Observer:

GREENSBORO — A Superior Court judge on Wednesday put a halt, in at least two school systems, to the state’s mandate on giving raises to teachers who give up tenure.

Special Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the Guilford and Durham school boards, granting their request to put new state-mandated contracts on hold. They argued the law outlining the process, passed last year by the General Assembly, is unconstitutional.

Doughton also ruled against the state’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit.

The contracts are part of a state law that eliminates tenure, called career status in North Carolina, for all public school teachers by 2018. In the meantime, school districts are required to offer four-year contracts to 25 percent of their teachers that provide $500-a-year raises in return for educators’ surrendering their tenure rights.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who championed the teacher contract law, will appeal the ruling.

“It is hard to fathom why a single judge and a small group of government bureaucrats would try to deny top-performing teachers from receiving a well-deserved pay raise,” Amy Auth, a spokeswoman for Berger, said in a written statement. “We will appeal this legal roadblock and continue to fight for pay increases for our best teachers.”

Guilford County‘s school board was the first in the state to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of getting rid of teacher tenure, which is simply a guarantee of a teacher’s due process rights in the event of demotion or dismissal. A number of local school districts have passed resolutions rejecting the tenure law and asking for relief from awarding teacher contracts (including Wake County), but only Guilford and Durham school districts have gone as far as to challenge the law in court.

The judge’s ruling could have a statewide impact.

Ann McColl, a lawyer with the N.C. Association of Educators, said the scope of the ruling will be clearer with a written order. But there’s a strong argument for ordering a statewide halt, she said, because the law applies to the entire state.

“It would be within the authority of the judge that the injunction is enjoining the state from enforcing the law,” she said. “Until there’s a written order, we don’t know for sure.”

Read the full story over at the N&O by clicking here.

*Scroll to the bottom for a response from K12, Inc.

The National College Athletics Association (NCAA) has announced it will no longer accept coursework in its initial eligibilityK12 logo certification process from 24 virtual schools that are affiliated with K12, Inc., a Wall Street-traded company that runs online schools across the nation.

According to the college recruiting website athleticscholarships.net, all of the 24 schools that the NCAA has denounced are nontraditional high schools and their courses were found not to comply with the NCAA’s nontraditional course requirements. Other schools not included in that group of 24 but are also affiliated with K12 Inc. remain under “Extended Evaluation,” meaning that the NCAA will review coursework from those schools and accept credits on a case-by-case basis.

K12, Inc., a Virginia-based for-profit company that runs online schools in 32 states and attributes nearly 85 percent of its income to public dollars, has been trying to make its way into North Carolina to open a virtual charter school.

K12’s bid to open up shop in NC has been unsuccessful so far. N.C. Learns, a non-profit managed by K12, appealed its unsuccessful attempt to open up a virtual charter school to the state’s highest court earlier this year. K12. also put forth an application under a different non-profit, N.C. Virtual Academy, to open a virtual charter school in the fall of 2015 (that application did not make it past the first round of reviews, but another virtual charter school application did – one affiliated with education assessment giant Pearson).

But the fight is not yet over for K12, Inc. Earlier this month, the State Board of Education endorsed a report from a virtual schools study committee that calls for the state legislature to test up to three new virtual charter schools beginning in 2015 for four years – and K12, Inc. could be included in that test group.

K12 has run into numerous problems recently, with school districts dropping their partnerships with the company, news of teachers lacking certification, and instances of very low graduation rates.

Last fall, news surfaced of a K12 school outsourcing the grading of student essays to workers in Bangalore, India.

The company has also run into trouble on Wall Street, where its stock was recently downgraded on account of slow enrollments.

*A representative from K12, Inc. reached out to N.C. Policy Watch to highlight their response to the NCAA’s actions. K12 believes that their teachers and courses meet the NCAA eligibility standards, and that NCAA employs vague standards and an unclear review process with regard to eligibility certification, leaving schools to guess at what would pass NCAA’s eligibility test.

Read K12, Inc.’s full response here.

Some of North Carolina’s teachers who have reached the end of their ropes are making their reasons for quitting their jobs very public.

As reported by The Carolina Mercury, Pam Lilley, a school library media specialist in Cornelius, N.C., created a Pinterest-style website last year where teachers who could not afford to teach any longer or who were outraged by the legislature’s education policy decisions and had decided to quit could publish either their resignation letters or reasons for quitting for the world to read.

“I have to take a stand somehow, and one of the ways I can do that is by quitting,” said one teacher, Anastasia Trueman. “I hate that I have to do that because it’s hurting the kids more than anybody, but if I really cannot sustain a living then that’s what I have to do.”

“The fact of the matter is that teachers have student loans, bills and families,” said a teacher who identified herself as Aimi. “I cannot count the number of times we have lamented the 20th of the month because we get paid on the 25th and no one has gas money. We borrow from our elementary aged children’s birthday stash to fill our gas tanks. We joke that pasta and butter are the staple in the house, but there is a cruel seriousness to it. We cancel doctor appointments because we can’t afford the co-pays. And this is NOT just the lament of new teacher on an unjustified pay scale. We are veteran teachers.”

To read more about why some North Carolina teachers are quitting, visit ResignNC.

Pay beginning teachers more, and pay veteran teachers more too — if available revenue allows.

That was the message from Governor Pat McCrory today, who convened his Education Cabinet at Meredith College to discuss top budget priorities for the upcoming legislative session that begins May 14.

“The budget is very tight,” cautioned McCrory, who said that while sales tax revenues are strong and there will be sufficient funds to cover tax refunds this year, Medicaid continues to be a very tough issue.

“Medicaid numbers impact us all, including education — whether we like to hear it or not, it is the truth,” said McCrory. Read More

As reported today in the Charlotte ObserverState Board of Education chairman William Cobey along with State Superintendent June Atkinson have gone on the record to say that the state’s charter schools, which are public, should disclose the salaries of all their employees — a reversal of a March announcement by top education officials who said that charter schools are not obligated to make salaries public.

“Public charter schools should disclose how they spend all tax dollars, including salaries paid,” N.C. Board of Education Chairman William Cobey said in a recent email.

“Charter schools are set up and organized as public schools. Therefore I believe salaries are to be open to the public for review,” state Superintendent June Atkinson said Monday.

Last month, a DPI spokeswoman said that because a charter school’s employees are employed by a private, nonprofit board, they shouldn’t be subject to the same public records law that public schools must comply with.

That statement was at odds with the conclusion of the special counsel for the N.C. General Assembly, who said charter schools must disclose salaries.

Chairman Cobey and Atkinson plan to send a letter to all charter schools next week, informing them of their duty to disclose salaries of all of their staff.

Read the full Observer story here.