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A Winston-Salem public charter school is continuing its efforts to bring in elite basketball players from around the nation and world, and recently saw three of its out-of-state players recruited to play next year at Division 1 colleges.

All three of the players who signed collegiate letters of intent came from outside North Carolina to attend Quality Education Academy, a charter school that is part of the state’s growing system of schools that are privately run by non-profit boards but funded with local, state and federal education dollars.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools, which monitors the 127 charter schools in the state, has previously raised concerns about QEA’s controversial basketball program, but neither DPI nor the N.C. Board of Education have taken any significant steps to curtail or stop the out-of-state recruitment. The school and it basketball team were the subjects of an N.C. Policy Watch investigation last year (scroll down to read more about that report).

June Atkinson, a Democrat elected to head the state’s K-12 public education system, said last year that charter schools have to accept students from North Carolina but the laws governing charter schools are silent as to whether that means the school is open to only North Carolina residents.

Meanwhile, the  basketball program’s efforts to look outside North Carolina don’t appear to be slowing.

Isaac Pitts, the basketball coach for Quality Education Academy, recently referred to his ongoing efforts to pull in players from overseas on his  Instagram account.

“Evaluating overseas talent and liking what I see! Wow,” Pitts wrote on March 28 as a caption to a screenshot of several youth playing on an outdoor basketball court.

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QEA basketball coach Isaac Pitts comments via Instagram on overseas recruiting efforts.

In another photo of what appears to be the same video, Pitts wrote, “Just sitting here looking at game film of kids we’re interested in.”

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June AtkinsonNC Policy Watch is excited to announce our next Crucial Conversation luncheon:

What’s next for our public schools? A conversation with June Atkinson, North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Click here to register

When: Wednesday, August 21 at 12:00 p.m. — Box Lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (at the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Cost: $10—includes a box lunch.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from Dr. Atkinson at this important point in state history.

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

 

North Carolina’s top education leader called on state legislators Monday  to give teachers a break on personal income taxes.

State Superintendent June Atkinson, a Democrat elected to the statewide post, released a statement Monday afternoon asking that teachers be exempt from state income tax, in light of their low pay and cuts being given to what corporations pay in their taxes.

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June Atkinson

Neither the House nor Senate plans by Republican budget writers included teacher raises in their final $20.6 billion budget proposals but did have a $50 million plan in the House plan to give vouchers for low-income children to attend private schools and a Senate tax reform plan that would give significant tax cuts to the state’s wealthiest residents.

Salary supplements for teachers with graduate degrees were also eliminated in the current budget proposals.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had included a modest 1 percent raise for all state workers  in his budget proposal, but the legislature will have the final word on how state money is spent.

Teachers in North Carolina are among the worst paid in the nation — the starting salary for a teacher is $30,800 and it takes a teacher five years to reach more than $31,000 a year in salary, according to information from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. A report given to the State Board of Education in March found that North Carolina teacher pay was 46th in the nation and only Mississippi and West Virginia paid less out of 10 states in the Southeast.

Here’s the full statement from Atkinson:

Much has been said about the need for North Carolina to become more competitive with our surrounding states when it comes to corporate income taxes. Those supporting a cut in corporate income taxes say that the reduction will attract more corporations and then we will have more jobs for North Carolinians.

I propose another reduction – exempt all public school teachers from having to pay any personal state income taxes. We lag behind South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi in what we pay our teachers. In fact, we rank 46th in teacher pay. The General Assembly proposed budgets do not include salary increases for teachers, but corporations expanding or locating in North Carolina certainly need workers who are educated – the work of teachers.

Let’s keep our competent teachers in North Carolina classrooms. Let’s position North Carolina to be a more attractive state for new teachers. Exempt them from paying personal state income taxes. That will at least give teachers more take-home money to support their families and will make North Carolina a little more competitive with our neighboring states.

Members of the House Education Committee will wait until next week to vote on the “Opportunity Scholarship Act”, but State Superintendent June Atkinson left them with something to ponder at Tuesday’s hearing.

Dr. Atkinson told lawmakers if public schools were going to be judged on an A-F grading scale, then private schools receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers should face the same scrutiny.

“Each school receiving taxpayers dollars should be graded in the same manner in order for parents to have the necessary information to make wise decisions,” said Dr. Atkinson.”If a grading scale of A-F is good for public schools, then it should be good enough for private schools.” Read More