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There are a lot of reasons that supporters of public education in North Carolina are speaking up and showing their support today by “walking in” to public schools. Today’s “Monday Numbers” edition of the Fitzsimon File spells several of them out with disturbing clarity. 

Yesterday’s editoral in the Charlotte Observer also hit the nail on the head when it explained:

“Supporters of teachers and public schools are encouraged to visit schools, wear red to symbolize support for education, thank teachers in person or leave messages of thanks. Teachers at some schools plan to urge supporters to join school parent groups or volunteer or support schools in other ways. At some schools, there are plans for discussions before and after classes about what teachers are facing each day….

This sounds like a good approach.

GOP Senate leader Phil Berger last week lambasted the ‘walk in’ as a ‘political protest orchestrated by unions” and reminded the teachers that “schools have a duty to educate and protect our children.’ But it is Read More

An editorial in the Asheville Citizen-Times provides new and damning evidence about the real world impact of the state’s FY 2014 budget for public schools.

As the editorial explains, local PTO’s and PTA’s have resorted to passing the hat in order to fund vital instructional positions in their public schools that Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly left unfunded.  

“Parent-teacher groups are caught between increased demands and reduced resources. The demands will continue to increase as long as the state abdicates its responsibility to fund the public schools properly. Read More

From the good folks at the ACLU-NC:

Randolph Board Votes to Reverse Ban on “Invisible Man”
ACLU of NC Says Episode is Valuable Reminder of Duty to Promote Academic Freedom and Reject Censorship

ASHEBORO – Tonight, the Randolph County Board of Education voted 6-1 to reverse its previous vote banning Ralph Ellison’s literary classic, “The Invisible Man,” from Randolph County schools.

In response, Chris Brook, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) released the following statement:

“Tonight, the Randolph County Board of Education righted a wrong. The freedom to read is just as essential to a healthy democracy as the freedom of speech and all other rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. This episode should serve as a valuable reminder to students, teachers, parents, and school officials across the state of our ongoing duty to promote academic freedom, ensure the free exchange of ideas and information, and reject the always looming threat that censorship and suppression, for any reason, pose to a free society.” 

School testsAt the risk of committing education policy world heresy by saying something positive about the Department of Public Instruction and the federal Department of Education, let’s hear three cheers for the following announcement from the NC Public Schools website:

“Thanks to a grant and supplemental funds from the U.S. Department of Education, every eligible North Carolina high school student who took an Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exam last year will have his or her test fees covered.

As a part of the federal Advanced Placement Test Fee Program, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) will receive more than $880,000 to cover AP and IB exam fees for all low-income students who qualify. The Department will use the funds to reimburse districts for the IB exam fees and pay College Board directly on behalf of districts to cover outstanding balances they incurred for eligible students. Read More

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