From New York City rallies to the Georgia Supreme Court, charter schools are under attack on all fronts. The debate over this experimental prescription for education innovation and parental choice has united political counterparts and divided communities nationwide. Accordingly, a Time’s editorial asks the question, “Are These End Times for Charter Schools?”. 

The debate began with a few assumptions: 1) public schools are failing our children; 2) we need to establish laboratories for educational innovation in order to find more effective ways to educate; and 3) public school parents need more choices regarding their student’s education.

Nonetheless, almost 20 years later, charter schools have yet to definitively prove that they: 1) generally outperform traditional public schools; 2) foster pedagogical innovation which can then be adopted by traditional public schools; 3) or provide educational choices to parents and families in need. Read More

Over 40 students and activists rallied in front of the legislature yesterday to defend public education. Speakers voiced dissent over the likely billion dollar cuts to public education, the resegregation of public schools and the inequitable treatment of undocumented students seeking higher education in North Carolina.

Speakers delivered heartfelt testimonies highlighting the need for equal educational access. To date, undocumented students do not receive federal or state financial aid for higher education and must wait until all other students register before they can select their college courses from what is leftover.

Speakers also discussed the overwhelming budget cuts to education. The 10% DPI budget reduction proposal requested by Governor Perdue will eliminate 5000 teacher positions and layoff 13,000 teacher aids. Education is the social and economic foundation of our society. These cuts threaten this foundation, and thus, also threaten the future of our state.

In the freezing cold and rain, these students were dedicated and frustrated enough to peacefully voice their concern. Legislators should take these comments to heart before enacting cuts that will damage futures, limit opportunity and erode the economic and social foundation of the state.

According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, WCPSS tops the nation with a class of 319 National Board certified teachers this year. This is an astounding demonstration of teacher support. North Carolina has the largest class of National Board certified teachers with 2,277 acquiring certification this year.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools certified 286 teachers this year, holding the number three spot in the nation behind the City of Chicago School District #299. Amidst alarming budget predictions and fears of resegregation, WCPSS, CMS and NC’s public education system still have something to hang their hats on.

The next step is ensuring that these high-quality teachers are equitably distributed within districts and across the state in a way that improves the education received by our most disadvantaged students.

National Board Certification was created in 1987 in order to both reward exemplary teachers and improve teaching quality. A report conducted by the National Research Commission states that National Board certified teachers have longer teaching careers, mentor new and struggling teachers and take on multiple roles within the school.

A new plan assigning students based on test scores and predicted achievement was presented yesterday and carries the support of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership. The unofficial plan, designed by co-creator of the Controlled Choice student assignment model Dr. Michael Alves, would divide the district into attendance zones that match county demographics and would not isolate students by achievement levels, all while providing parents with a range of options. The new assignment scheme aims to prevent high concentrations of failing students in an effort to lift overall achievement.

This plan follows an unsuccessful attempt to pass a 16-zone neighborhood school model proposed by the student assignment committee led by John Tedesco. A rift in the board’s Republican majority and community support gives proponents of the new plan room for optimism, but the neighborhood schoolers haven’t given up yet.

Critics of the new scheme claim Alves plan is a repackaged diversity policy barely deviating from the assignment plan tossed out by the board majority. The kettle has officially called the pot black. Implementing neighborhood school assignment plans within a county that has racially and economically segregated housing patterns will create segregated schools, and supporters of neighborhood schooling are fully aware of this fact. So I guess we’re all playing a game of semantics.

Seemingly, Alves’ plan will accomplish almost everything Tedesco’s 16-zone plan pledged to ensure—proximity, stability, zones and choice. The one thing it does NOT offer is segregation!