Archives

News

At yesterday’s first meeting of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission, which is tasked with reviewing the Common Core State Standards and suggesting modifications or replacements to those guidelines in English language arts and math, newly-elected co-chair Jeannie Metcalf didn’t make known her position on whether the standards should stay or go — but her Facebook page indicates she opposes them.

Metcalf, a Winston-Salem/Forsyth school board member, confirmed on Tuesday that she administers the Facebook page RE-elect Jeannie Metcalf for School Board. Her page is peppered with links from noted tea partier and anti-Common Core activist Glenn Beck, N.C. Lieutenant Governor and Common Core opponent Dan Forest, and other stories that portray Common Core in a negative light.

Back in May, Metcalf declared herself an opponent of Common Core, citing a California story about how teachers in the Rialto school district came up with a writing assignment that asked students to write a persuasive essay about whether or not the Holocaust actually happened. The assignment was meant to satisfy a Common Core standard for critical thinking; however, there is nothing in the Common Core standards that invites this particular assignment, according to Washington Post journalist Valerie Strauss.Capture

Jeannie Metcalf (click here to read more about her) will co-chair the Academic Standards Review Commission with pro-Common Core IBM executive Andre Peek. The next meeting of the review commission should be held sometime in October.

UPDATE: Metcalf emailed N.C. Policy Watch on Tuesday to say she does oppose Common Core.
“I will say I am much more concerned that the math standards be revamped. The ELA standards have some good points,” said Metcalf. “My co chair is chairman of the NC Business Committee for Education, which is solidly behind common core so I thinks it’s good to have different perspectives moving forward,” Metcalf added.

News

CommonCore_NC1At the first meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission, which is tasked with reviewing and potentially replacing the Common Core State Standards, co-chair and Gov. Pat McCrory appointee Andre Peek told N.C. Policy Watch upon the meeting’s conclusion Monday afternoon that he is a supporter of Common Core and has been “since its inception.”

Peek, an executive at IBM, said “I do realize it’s [Common Core] a divisive issue for our state, though. But I don’t know the details of why…so through the efforts of this commission we’ll get to the facts…and how to change it to be more effective for our state,” adding that any changes made will be based on fact and not just a feeling of “we don’t like it.”

Peek will co-chair the Academic Standards Review Commission along with Jeannie Metcalf, who sits on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth State Board of Education.

Metcalf, who is an appointee of Senate leader Phil Berger and has no background in teaching, told N.C. Policy Watch last month about her qualifications to serve: “I’ve read lots of magazines and I go to lots of meetings…and so I got myself a self-guided education in curriculum standards in North Carolina and how they’ve changed over the years.”

For a full run down of the first meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission, look for my story tomorrow morning over at www.ncpolicywatch.com

Commentary

Inhabitants of the “nonpartisan” conservative think tanks are clearly growing desperate that North Carolinians have not fallen for the education funding shell game they helped legislative leaders and the Governor engineer during this past session of the General Assembly. With public opinion titling increasingly against them (both on the issue of education itself and the U.S. Senate race that’s turning, in some respects, into a referendum on the issue), these groups have been cranking out missive after missive in an attempt to prove that down is up.

Fortunately, the truth keeps shining through. Take for example, Ned Barnett’s excellent essay in Sunday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer.  As Barnett patiently explains in the piece, the claims in recent political ads that spending state education spending has increased by “a billion dollars” doesn’t hold water:

The $1 billion increase Wilburn refers to is deeply misleading. Most of that spending includes state contributions to pension and health funds and salary adjustments. It’s not in any real world sense spending for the education of North Carolina’s public school students.

In the real world, spending for education is down. Wilburn could have learned that by going to the financial officer for her own school district. There has been a slight increase in special education funding, but the overall funding for the 5,400-student Yadkin County school district is down.

Denise Bullin, the executive director of finance for Yadkin County schools, has been in the job for two years. In regard to state funding, she says, “We have experienced a reduction in both years.” As for Wilburn’s televised statements, Bullin said, “I don’t agree with that.”

The state’s funding for Yadkin County schools fell from $30.8 million in 2012-13 to $28.3 million in 2013-14. In the same period, its per pupil funding dropped from $5,371 to $5,040.

The piece goes on to explain the statewide picture:

Read More

News

School-vouchersThe N.C. Court of Appeals ruled today that the 1,878 students who have already been granted school vouchers can now use those taxpayer dollars at private schools while the fate of the program is decided.

Students enrolled at private schools this fall expecting to have the vouchers, worth $4,200 annually, in hand – but an August ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood found the school voucher law to be unconstitutional, halting a program that, as Judge Hobgood said, “appropriates taxpayer funds to educational institutions that have no standards, curriculum and requirements for teachers and principals to be certified.”

As a result, voucher recipients either returned to public schools or paid the full cost of attendance at private schools. Some private schools also indicated they would temporarily subsidize voucher students with the hope that the final court ruling would turn out in their favor.

While the Court of Appeals’ ruling obligates the state to disburse taxpayer funds to the private schools of those students who were awarded vouchers no later than August 21, 2014, it also blocks the state from awarding any additional vouchers until the final merits of the case are decided. Read More

News

IMG_2341Lt. Governor Dan Forest kicked off a statewide media tour today in Raleigh to promote his “I Support Teachers” license plates — one part of his newly minted North Carolina Education Endowment fund that is aimed at increasing the salaries of the state’s highest performing public school teachers.

“We need to have the best teachers in the world here in North Carolina,” said Forest. “And one of the things that often happens is that we play this game with teachers about how do we fund … teacher compensation for the long term.”

“So every couple years you get the Governor and the legislature to try to find money to help support teacher compensation, generally whatever is leftover in the budget,” continued Forest. “The purpose of the North Carolina Education Endowment fund is to provide a long term solution…to support teacher compensation so we can break the ebbs and flows of the economy.”

Lawmakers passed what they characterize as an average 7 percent raise for teachers during the 2014 legislative session, after several years of no pay raises for teachers. Those raises, however, have in large part gone to newer teachers, with veteran teachers left with little to show for their years-long wait for a pay raise.

Calling it a “lock box fund,” Forest said contributions will sit in the endowment for a period of time in order to grow, then be used to pay the state’s highest performing teachers at a greater rate. The metrics for determining who would qualify as one of the state’s highest performing teachers was not made clear.

There are several ways the NC Education Endowment can be funded, according to Forest:

  • Through the purchase of an “I Support Teachers” specialty license plate;
  • By individual or corporate donations through state income tax forms;
  • Corporations and individuals making stand-alone donations;
  • By appropriations form the general fund by the General Assembly; and
  • Through other methods to be determined in later legislation.

In the law passed this summer that enacted the endowment fund, Forest modified language from the existing law that established a specialty license plate option with the words “I Support Public Schools.” That license plate never ended up being created thanks to a lack of public interest. Forest decided to take that language and cross out “Public Schools” on the license plate and replace it with “I Support Teachers.”

While WRAL reported in May that the state’s most popular specialized license plates, which are the ones that contribute to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, only generate annual revenue amounts of $500,000, Forest told reporters at the time that he hoped the endowment will generate billions of dollars in revenue over the long term.

During the bill’s debate, Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake) worried that the endowment funds could ultimately just get thrown in with the big General Appropriations pot, much like what happened to the lottery funding that was originally intended to fund certain areas of education.

Forest will continue to promote his endowment by highlighting the “I Support Teachers” license plates at DMVs in Greensboro and Charlotte today.