State Board of Education to receive teacher licensure and pay proposal next month

Recommendations to dramatically change teacher licensure and pay structures in North Carolina will be delivered to the State Board of Education (SBE) next month, said Van Dempsey, chairman of the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC).

Dempsey shared a timeline for making the recommendations with the state board on Thursday during the board’s regular monthly businesses meeting. That meeting followed a two-day Bi-Annual Planning and Work Session, which the board held in Pembroke.

PEPSC will meet Nov. 10 to make final revisions to the “working document” the state board will likely be asked to approve.

Van Dempsey

“So, that’s where we are now and what I anticipate will happen on Nov. 10,” Dempsey said.

On Wednesday, SBE Attorney Allison Schafer told the state board that state law requires it to adopt or reject PEPSC recommendations. The state board is not allowed to make any “substantive changes” to rules recommendation that it adopts, Schafer said.

Here are additional governing rules Schafer shared:

  • If the state board rejects the rules recommendation, it must state with specificity its reasons for the rejection.
  • PEPSC may amend that rules recommendation and resubmit it to the state board.
  • The state board shall adopt or reject the amended rules recommendation.
  • If the state board fails to adopt PEPSC’s original and amended rule recommendations, the state board may develop and adopt its own rules.

Schafer noted that current law includes specific requirements for teacher licensure. The law must be changed before new requirements are adopted, she said.

Many of the current rules are inconsistent with the recommendations that PEPSC is likely to make, Schafer said.

“We can only adopt rules that are allowed to us in statute, so we need the change the statute first,” Schafer said. “So, the next step in developing a new licensure system would be for PEPSC to recommend and the state board to approve a request for changes to allow it to develop such a system or plan.”

The General Assembly will return to Raleigh in January and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt has encouraged the state board to take action soon to provide lawmakers with information and recommendations to move the process forward.

As Policy Watch previously reported, the proposed licensure and pay model be considered would create a system of entry-level certifications to bring more people into the profession. One certification would serve essentially as a learner’s permit. It would allow aspiring educators with associate’s degrees to teach for two years while they earn a bachelor’s degree. Teachers working under that license would receive a base salary of $30,000.

Veteran teachers in leadership roles could earn an advanced teacher license. A National Board Certified Teacher working under that license with a master’s degree and more than 25 years of experience could earn more than $80,000 a year.

North Carolina’s teachers are currently paid based on years of experience. Veteran teachers would be held harmless if they lost pay under the proposal.

Teachers have complained that the proposal is an unwanted move to a system of merit pay that places too much emphasis on students’ standardized test scores. They argue that a better strategy to recruit and retain teachers — a stated goal of the new proposal — is to pay them a fair wage.

Truitt has said the feedback that she’s received about the proposal is mostly grounded in “misinterpretation or misstatements” of fact. She contends the proposal is not a merit pay model.

Governor signs executive order establishing commission on UNC System governance

Governor Roy Cooper announced a commission Tuesday to study how the UNC System functions, who governs it and how.

The Governor’s Commission on  the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina, created by executive order, will be headed by former UNC System Presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, a Democrat and Republican respectively.

“North Carolina’s public universities are our most valuable assets,” Cooper said in a statement Tuesday. “And the key to building a stronger economy with opportunity for everyone and they need serious, diverse leadership committed to working together for the good of our students, faculty, future employers and our state.”

Gov. Roy Cooper

“Seeking unbiased review and recommendations on proposed reform from bipartisan leaders with first-hand experience building our great universities will ensure the UNC System’s continued success,” Cooper said. “And I appreciate President Ross’s and President Spellings’s willingness to lead this commission.”

Ross was ousted from his position in 2015 by a new Republican majority on the UNC System Board of Governors. While the board gave no explanation for removing Ross, they did say it was not related to his performance in the position.

Spellings, a former education secretary in the George W. Bush presidential administration, replaced Ross. But after a series of conflicts with board members and criticism from conservatives that she was too independent, she stepped down from the position halfway through a five year contract.

Read more

Affirmative action supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court justices cast doubt on affirmative action in college admissions

Where’s the GOP outrage over farm debt assistance?

Why, the author asks, is it unfair to forgive debt for student loans but not farm borrowers? (Photo illustration by Iowa Capital Dispatch using via Canva)

I try to stay atop the day’s news. But I must have dozed off last week — because I missed the response from Iowa Republican leaders to the Biden administration’s announcement of $1.3 billion in debt relief to 36,000 farmers who have fallen behind on their farm loan payments.

In making the announcement, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Through no fault of their own, our nation’s farmers and ranchers have faced incredibly tough circumstances over the last few years. The funding included in today’s announcement helps keep our farmers farming and provides a fresh start for producers in challenging positions.”

I am not here to question the wisdom of the federal assistance. But the silence from Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst is markedly different from their criticism after President Biden announced in August that the government would forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loans for most borrowers.

If you have forgotten, here’s how Iowa’s Republican leaders reacted to the student loan announcement:

Reynolds explained it this way: “Biden didn’t cancel student loan debt. He sent the bill to you.” She also tweeted, “The expensive, unlawful Biden mass debt cancellation plan is an insult to working people and must be stopped.”

Grassley said by forgiving student loans, Biden “continues to pour gasoline on the fires of inflation.”

And Ernst said bluntly: “President Biden is rewarding the wealthy and penalizing working families.”

[Editor’s note: North Carolina GOP politicians — including Senator Thom Tills and Rep. Virginia Foxx — have uttered similar condemnations of student loan debt relief, but remained silent on aid to struggling farmers.]

Rep. Virginia Foxx

Sen. Thom Tillis

Under the federal farm relief announced last week, each farmer/borrower who is delinquent on a direct government loan or on a farm loan guaranteed by the federal government will receive automatic payments to get them caught up on their loans.

Each farmer with a direct federal loan will receive about $52,000, the Associated Press reported. Each farmer with a guaranteed loan will receive about $172,000.

Vilsack also announced 21,000 borrowers whose farm loans have been foreclosed on but who still owe money will share $200 million in federal assistance. That is an average of $101,000 each, the USDA said.

Don’t forget, the student loan forgiveness tops out at $10,000 for most borrowers and at $20,000 for low-income borrowers. Read more