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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

 

Julius ChambersThe tributes to civil rights hero Julius Chambers (whose funeral will take place tomorrow in Charlotte) have been pouring in from many places. Click here to read Monday’s Charlotte Observer editorial.

Another one worth your time is this one by veteran Raleigh journalist and commentator Barlow Herget:

Julius Chambers passing by

There’s a scene in the classic movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird” where the black Reverend Sykes is sitting in the segregated balcony of the courthouse at the end of the trial.

When Atticus Finch is leaving the courtroom, Mr. Sykes rises as do all the blacks.  He tells Finch’s tomboy daughter Scout who is sitting with the minister to stand.  She asks, “Why?”

“Because your father’s passing by,” replies Reverend Sykes.

All North Carolina should rise at the “passing” of Julius Chambers. 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

Dr. Bill Anderson of the nonprofit MeckEd — a pro-public education group in Charlotte — published a fascinating, chart-and-graph-filled editorial/report this week about the status of North Carolina’s public schools. You owe it to yourself to take some time to review it.

“North Carolina was once considered a leader of K-12 public education in the Southeast. A few years back, during the tenure of Governor Jim Hunt, who was referred to on the national stage as the “Education Governor,” teacher salaries, academic achievement, and accountability increased significantly. The unfortunate reality of change, along with an extreme and prolonged recession, has resulted in painful adjustments due to significant reductions in education funding. 

This editorial is intended to provide an accurate and objective picture of these changes since 2006. It provides data on student population growth, academic achievement, the reduction of full-time instructional personnel, teacher salaries and how N.C. fares when compared to national teacher pay scales. It also shows what the outlook could be for traditional public schools in a state that once valued public education as an investment in the future. So much has changed and is being “reformed” very rapidly this summer. Some legislators believe our public schools are “broken” and need to “be fixed.” Hopefully, by understanding these developments with annual data points, the citizens and legislators of our great state will now have an accurate understanding of how far North Carolina has slipped in regard to funding and valuing the importance of public education.”

 Click here to read the entire piece.