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Graduation capsToday’s good news about North Carolina’s rising high school graduation rate serves to highlight several important facts that ought to be taken into account as the public and state leaders debate the future of our public schools. Here are five:

#1 – There are no “quick fixes” in a giant system like the North Carolina public schools. The latest encouraging numbers are no more the result of recent legislative actions than, say, improved traffic flow on the interstate highway system is. To improve outcomes in such massive systems takes sustained attention and investments over a period of many years.

#2- The new results are, therefore, quite clearly the result of many years of hard work by a lot of people. At the core of the success, however, was the widespread acknowledgement by virtually all stakeholders — elected officials, education leaders, business leaders, teachers, parents, advocates etc… — that the state had a big problem and that something had to be done.  The widespread acceptance and discussion of this fact led, over time, to more and more people talking about the problem and more and more people wanting and trying to do something about it.  Many ideas undoubtedly flopped, but over time, the cumulative effect of lots of creative thinking and sustained attention has born some excellent fruit.

#-3 - The work to improve graduation rates starts before a child even enters school. Read More

Education cutsThere’s so much spin coming out of the far right camp these days about North Carolina’s declining commitment to public education that you’d think the Loony Tunes Tasmanian Devil had developed their talking points. Or maybe it was David Copperfield or some other magician who specializes in making things disappear when you’re not watching.

Whichever the case, the whole thing would be downright laughable if it weren’t so sad and the cuts to the classroom weren’t so painful and unnecessary. After months of tearing down “government schools” and claiming they were “broken” and “failures” and “in need of competition from the private sector,” conservatives are suddenly falling all over themselves to profess their love for public schools and to claim that their plans for a radical education overhaul weren’t so radical after all.

As Chris Fitzsimon notes in today’s column: Read More

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

 

(This post has been updated to include a link to another story documenting local education cuts).
That muffled roar you’re beginning to hear is the sound of education leaders across the state confronting and reacting to the reality of the cuts in education that the new state budget imposes – you know, the new budget that Gov. McCrory and right-wing think tankers have been bragging about.

Yesterday, the High Point Enterprise reported on the comments of Randolph County Community College President Robert Shackleford, Jr.: Read More

One of the things people rightfully dislike about their government is when they are not told the truth. Sadly, in the ongoing debate about North Carolina’s new school voucher plan many politicians have been doing just that.

In an apparent effort to lessen the controversy, some legislators have been claiming that that it is “essentially a pilot program.” It is not. The “Opportunity Scholarship Act” is a full-blown government program similar to ones that have failed miserably in several jurisdictions. It has no expiration date and its sponsors have made plain their intention to expand it.

In explaining the education budget, one state senator wrote:

In regards to the Opportunity Scholarship Act, this is a pilot program for low income families.  Many children in low income families are forced to attend low-performing schools because they do not have the opportunity that wealthier families have to move to better schools.  We simply want to make sure that everybody has the same opportunity to succeed; it is by no means a sign that lawmakers lack confidence in our public schools.

At least four obvious responses deserve mention: Read More