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slowdownThis morning’s editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right on the state Board of Education’s plan to approve two new “virtual” charter schools. The central message: “Not so fast!”

Charters were seen initially as a chance to be “laboratories” for public education, as places to cultivate innovations that could be used in conventional schools. But too many charter advocates have viewed them as “alternative” schools, almost private schools funded by the public. Now that there’s no limit on the number of charter schools North Carolina can have, Republicans seem inclined to invite an almost unlimited number to open without knowing whether they’re succeeding.

The state needs to more closely oversee and evaluate the charters that exist before going in to the Brave New World of online-only charters.

The N&O’s conclusion is pretty self-evident — especially if you’ve read any of NC Policy Watch’s reporting on the scoundrels at the for-profit virtual charter company, K12, Inc. But if you have any doubts, check out this in-depth report from earlier this year by a team of experts at the National Education Policy Center. According to the authors:

“Despite considerable enthusiasm for virtual education in some quarters, there is little credible research to support virtual schools’ practices or to justify ongoing calls for ever-greater expansion.”

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Senator Jerry Tillman’s bill that would aim to replace the Common Core academic standards with alternatives developed by a North Carolina review commission would allow Common Core to remain in place this fall, as students return to their classrooms and commission members consider different solutions.

But remarks made by Sen. Tillman yesterday at the Senate Education Committee meeting, where the proposed legislation was ultimately moved forward on a voice vote, incited some confusion over whether or not Common Core would be gone as soon as his bill became law, presumably within a few weeks.

“This bill becomes effective July 1, the Common Core standards are removed and repealed as of July 1,” explained Tillman to committee members. Read More

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Buddy Collins

According to an announcement released earlier today, Gov. McCrory has appointed A.L. “Buddy” Collins of Forsyth County to a two-year term on the state Task Force on Safer Schools. According to the release:  “The task force will provide guidance to the Center for Safer Schools and consider future policy and legislative action that is needed to improve school safety in North Carolina.”

The selection of Collins (pictured at left in an image taken from the website of the advocacy group Equality NC) comes as a bit of a surprise given the controversy that swirled around his original nomination to the Board of Education. That nomination, of course, was opposed vehemently by human rights advocates — particularly folks in the LGBT community — because of Collins’ repeated past clashes with advocates over proposed rules to protect LGBT children from bullying while serving on the Forsyth County Board of Education.

That controversy led Equality NC to detail a list of half-dozen objectionable acts by Collins and to call for Gov. McCrory to reconsider Collins’ nomination — an act he apparently never took.

Today’s appointment is rendered all the more interesting (and even ironic) by the fact that the Governor’s new “comprehensive plan” to make schools safer specifically mentions bullying at least 30 times.  

 

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Mark Edwards, recently named National Superintendent of the Year and adviser to the North Carolina State Board of Education, told fellow Board members at July’s meeting that his daughter was moving from North Carolina to Nashville to begin her career as a teacher.

Edwards, who is superintendent of Mooresville County Schools, said that in Tennessee his daughter will make $10,000 more than teachers who are just beginning their careers in North Carolina. And in five years, his daughter will make $15,000 more than her North Carolinian peers.

“It’s a competitive advantage to have the best and brightest in North Carolina,” said Edwards. He said North Carolina will see a migration of those great teachers out of the state unless we find a way to pay them better. Read More

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Two bills that would significantly alter charter school policy in North Carolina were sent to conference committees in the House and Senate this week.

Senate Bill 337, which originally would have created an independent charter school board separate from the State Board of Education, failed a concurrence vote on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Jerry Tillman, called for non-concurrence, citing changes the House made that needed some work.

After considerable opposition to SB 337 from education leaders that include State Superintendent June Atkinson and McCrory’s new chair of the State Board of Education, Bill Cobey, Sen. Tillman introduced a new version of the bill to House colleagues that nixed the idea of an independent board overseeing charter schools.

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