The Public School Forum of NC announced Wednesday it’s forming a new study group — and, possibly, a new center — to seek solutions to racial inequities and unfair funding formulas found in North Carolina’s schools.
Using the following question as the foundation for its work, “what would it take to provide every child in North Carolina with the opportunity to receive a sound basic education?” the group, comprising educators, government officials, business leaders and subject area experts, will develop policies and best practices to this end.
“There has been much more of an emphasis and a growing body of research on many things that have been affecting academic achievement, and one of the big ones is racial segregation and its impact on our schools today,” said the Public School Forum’s executive director, Keith Poston.
Poston said recent conversations and news stories around some of North Carolina’s school systems resegregating more than forty years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s integration orders prompted conversations at the Public School Forum focused on where schools are headed in terms of racial equity.
“We were feeling that this is something that’s becoming a huge issue,” said Poston.
The study group will be helmed by former history teacher and NC Teacher of the Year James E. Ford, a recent hire of the Public School Forum who is now serving as its program director. Co-heading the study group will be the Forum’s Senior Director of Policy & Programs, Joe Ableidinger.
Members of the study group will hone in on the following three topic areas (listed below), with the hope of producing a report next spring that will provide the basis for the work of the proposed North Carolina Center for Educational Opportunity, housed within the Forum (contingent on funding):
- Racial Equity – What obstacles stand in the way of ensuring that North Carolina children of all races have the opportunity to receive a sound basic education? How can these obstacles be overcome?
- Trauma and Learning –What policies and practices can improve educators’ understanding of and responses to the impacts of traumatic childhood experiences on learning, such that even our most vulnerable children have the opportunity to receive a sound basic education?
- School Funding – What school financing alternatives exist to efficiently target educational dollars where they are needed most? Are there alternatives to our current school finance system that may help boost long-term outcomes of all students, particularly those who are currently not well-served?
Focusing on ways to prepare teachers whose students are dealing with trauma is an especially important subject area, said Poston, as students in poverty (and the majority of NC students are poor) often have out-of-classroom experiences that provoke feelings of post-traumatic stress, leaving them unable to focus in school.
The Public School Forum has produced numerous reports looking at teacher recruitment and retention, digital learning, accountability and assessments, and other subject areas.
Back in 2005, the Forum addressed the issue of school finance and how best to respond to the Leandro ruling mandating that all children have the opportunity to receive a sound basic education.