Breaking News

One Wake County Teacher Speaks Out

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Breaking News | 0 comments

about the law that requires each school district to identify 25% of teachers who will be eligible for temporary career status. Read what she said to the Wake County School Board.

New Report Finds an Active School-to-Prison Pipeline in the Wake County Public Schools

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

A new report entitled, “The State of the School-to-Prison-Pipeline in the Wake County Public School System,” was released on August 19, 2013 by Advocates for Children’s Services (ACS), a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina. Relying on the latest available data (2011-12), the report details the high number of suspensions in North Carolina’s largest school district, and the disproportionate number of suspensions meted out to minority children. Also called out in the report is the troubling fact that “WCPSS is funneling students, particularly students of color, directly into the juvenile delinquency system at increasing and alarming rates.”

Some of the reports findings:

- Long-term suspension rates in WCPSS were among the highest in North Carolina, in part due to the district’s severe shortage of alternatives to suspension (e.g., restorative justice, community service, and mandatory counseling).

- The district had a severe shortage of school psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors, with ratios well below national recommendations.

- The alternative schools and programs within the WCPSS are highly segregated, low-achieving and punitive.

- The WCPSS had a massive security presence in its schools – including a Security Department staff, private security guards, and law enforcement officers – yet security personnel lacked adequate training, limitations and accountability, and inconsistencies existed among schools.

- Arbitrary suspension recommendations from an inadequate Code of Conduct are leading to inequitable applications. Nearly all long-term suspensions are recommended to extend through the end of the school year, so two students who commit the same offense may receive vastly different suspension periods depending on when they committed their offense.

Read the press release from Advocates for Children’s Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Read the full report.

Survey: Teachers Digging Into Own Pockets to Buy Education Products

Posted by on Jul 12, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

With all of the teacher bashing that goes on, it’s nice to see facts like this that demonstrate the “above and beyond” dedication of educators.

“Roughly half the amount that the nation’s public school teachers are spending on educational products is being covered with their own money, a new nationwide survey shows.

All told, teachers spent about $3.2 billion on various types of supplies and materials during the 2012-13 academic year, according to the survey, released recently by the National School Supply and Equipment Association. Half that total amount, $1.6 billion, came out of educators’ own pockets.”

Read the entire article.

New Data Shows School “Reformers” Are Full of It, Poor schools underperform largely because of economic forces, not because teachers have it too easy.

Posted by on Jun 4, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

In the great American debate over education, the education and technology corporations, bankrolled politicians and activist-profiteers who collectively comprise the so-called “reform” movement base their arguments on one central premise: that America should expect public schools to produce world-class academic achievement regardless of the negative forces bearing down on a school’s particular students. In recent days, though, the faults in that premise are being exposed by unavoidable reality.
Before getting to the big news, let’s review the dominant fairy tale: As embodied by New York City’s major education announcement this weekend, the “reform” fantasy pretends that a lack of teacher “accountability” is the major education problem and somehow wholly writes family economics out of the story (amazingly, this fantasy persists even in a place like the Big Apple where economic inequality is particularly crushing). That key — and deliberate — omission serves myriad political interests.
For education, technology and charter school companies and the Wall Streeters who back them, it lets them cite troubled public schools to argue that the current public educationsystem is flawed, and to then argue that education can be improved if taxpayer money is funneled away from the public school system’s priorities (hiring teachers, training teachers, reducing class size, etc.) and into the private sector (replacing teachers with computers, replacing public schools with privately run charter schools, etc.). Likewise, for conservative politicians and activist-profiteers disproportionately bankrolled by these and other monied interests, the “reform” argument gives them a way to both talk about fixing education and to bash organized labor, all without having to mention an economic status quo that monied interests benefit from and thus do not want changed.

New Report: Out of School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Note: See page 4, where Wake County ranks 9 among the top 10 Districts with the Largest Number of “Hotspot” Secondary Schools

In this first of a kind breakdown of data from over 26,000 U.S. middle and high schools, we estimate that well over two million students were suspended during the 2009-2010 academic year. This means that one out of every nine secondary school students was suspended at least once during that year. As other studies demonstrate, the vast majority of suspensions are for minor infractions of school rules, such as disrupting class, tardiness, and dress code violations, rather than for serious violent or criminal behavior.

Serious incidents are rare and result in expulsions, which are not covered by this report.

Given the recent research showing that being suspended even once in ninth grade is associated with a twofold increase in the likelihood of dropping out, from 16% for those not suspended to 32% for those suspended just once (Balfanz, 2013), the high number of students suspended, as presented in this report, should be of grave concern to all parents, educators, taxpayers, and policymakers.

Read the complete report.

What’s Wrong with School Choice? Here’s What.

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

The idea of giving students a choice of where to go school — with public funds — may sound good, but there are problems attached. The following post explains some of them. It was written by David A. Pickler, president of the National School Boards Association and former chairman and now member of Tennessee’s Shelby County Board of Education.

Read the entire post here.

Why We Need a Moratorium on the High Stakes of Testing

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, called late last month for a moratorium on the high stakes attached to new Common Core-aligned standardized tests. (You can read about that here.)  Here’s a piece in support of that call, written by Jeff Bryant, an Associate Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future , who happens to reside in North Carolina.

Read the entire article.

A Must-Read: School Safety in NC

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Great Schools in Wake is among 50+ organizations in North Carolina and around the country that have endorsed a new issue brief released  by youth justice advocates.  The brief, School Safety in North Carolina: Realities, Recommendations and Resources debunks common myths driving much of the school safety debate and provides a comprehensive, research-based approach to the issue.

The issue brief was submitted to the N.C. Center for Safer Schools, a state program created in March 2013 that is currently seeking public comment on school safety issues. The authors, Barbara Fedders, a UNC law professor, and Jason Langberg and Jennifer Story, attorneys with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Advocates for Children’s Services project, drafted the response out of concern that the school safety debate that has emerged following the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., is shortsighted, politically driven, unsupported by data and too narrowly focused on physical security.

Click here to download the brief.<http://www.legalaidnc.org/public/learn/media_releases/2013_MediaReleases/school-safety-in-north-carolina.pdf>

“North Carolina’s students deserve thoughtful, comprehensive approaches to safety and well-being—not just politics and sound bites,” said Fedders.

To better inform the debate, the advocates present important and often-overlooked facts about school safety, recommendations for proven methods of ensuring student well-being, examples of reforms from other cities and states, and an extensive bibliography of literature on the issue.

Among the facts about school safety listed in the brief are the following:
*  Schools are still among the safest places for children. Serious violence at schools is extremely rare. Children are more likely to be harmed at home or in the streets than in school.
*  The presence of school resource officers (SROs)—law enforcement officers stationed full-time in schools—and other security personnel has increased dramatically in N.C. schools since the mid-nineties, despite an absence of credible evidence that they increase safety. What research shows is that the presence of school police has increased arrests and court referrals for minor misbehavior and led to some serious injuries to students.
*  Too many students are experiencing out-of-school suspensions for minor misbehavior, a practice which negatively impacts school safety by alienating and frustrating struggling students, preventing students from receiving important services at school, and increasing opportunities for unsupervised students to socialize with negative peer influences.
*  Too many students, especially Black students, are funneled into the juvenile system as a result of minor misbehavior, and students age 16 and older who are arrested at school or charged with a crime for something that happened at school are sent straight into the adult criminal system.

According to the advocates, true school safety efforts must aim to protect students’ psychological and emotional well-being as much as physical security, and must be built on a foundation of adequately funded schools and collaborative support from all systems—education, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice—that serve youth.

Jason Langberg notes, “Our comments to the new N.C. Center for Safer Schools not only include recommendations for the most proven methods of ensuring school safety and order, but also strategies that will protect the mission of public schools, promote positive learning environments, and ensure fairness and dignity for students and their families.”

Some of the proposed strategies for promoting school safety include:
*  focusing on preventing violence before it erupts by implementing research-based measures such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, smaller classes and schools, highly-trained teachers and staff, and parent involvement initiatives;
*  developing a continuum of developmentally appropriate interventions for students that includes adequate numbers of support staff, peer mediation and conflict resolution programs, and non-punitive alternative schools and programs;
*  limiting unnecessarily harmful “safety” measures by reducing out-of-school suspensions and ensuring SROs and other security personnel are well-trained, have a clearly defined role, and are accountable to students, parents, school staff and policymakers; and
*  conducting an in-depth study of current school safety practices in North Carolina, and regularly collecting and publishing comprehensive data relevant to school safety.

No Rich Child Left Behind

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Pre-K is a huge difference maker in a world where family income is a strong predictor of children’s success. Early childhood preparedness is critical if we are to surmount the challenges of poverty.

In the New York Times, Sean F. Reardon writes,

“…much of our public conversation about education is focused on the wrong culprits: we blame failing schools and the behavior of the poor for trends that are really the result of deepening income inequality and the behavior of the rich.

We’re also slow to understand what’s happening, I think, because the nature of the problem — a growing educational gap between the rich and the middle class — is unfamiliar. After all, for much of the last 50 years our national conversation about educational inequality has focused almost exclusively on strategies for reducing inequalities between the educational successes of the poor and the middle class, and it has relied on programs aimed at the poor, like Head Start and Title I.

We’ve barely given a thought to what the rich were doing. With the exception of our continuing discussion about whether the rising costs of higher education are pricing the middle class out of college, we don’t have much practice talking about what economists call “upper-tail inequality” in education, much less success at reducing it.

Meanwhile, not only are the children of the rich doing better in school than even the children of the middle class, but the changing economy means that school success is increasingly necessary to future economic success, a worrisome mutual reinforcement of trends that is making our society more socially and economically immobile.

We need to start talking about this. Strangely, the rapid growth in the rich-poor educational gap provides a ray of hope: if the relationship between family income and educational success can change this rapidly, then it is not an immutable, inevitable pattern. What changed once can change again. Policy choices matter more than we have recently been taught to think.

Read the entire opinion piece.

Take Action! School Board Redistricting Bill Passes Senate

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Breaking News | 0 comments

On April 22, 2013, the NC Senate passed SB 325 with a 33-17 vote along party lines.  The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

The bill calls for the following:

  • Seven board members elected by district; two members elected at-large. All will ultimately serve four-year terms, beginning in July (formerly December).
  • All nine seats will be up for election in 2016
    • Candidates who win seats up for election this year (Districts 1, 2, 7, 9) will serve only a two and one-half-year term.
    • The terms of board members elected in 2011 (Districts 3, 4, 5, 6, 8) will be extended by seven months.
    • At-large seats will be up for election in 2016, then up again in 2018 for a full four-year term.

Senators Josh Stein and Dan Blue both spoke passionately against the passage of this bill. Senator Blue summed it up this way:

“It offends me to the quick.  It makes me want to yell.”

Click here to hear Sen. Blue’s full comments (start 19:05/end 34:10)

Senator Stein commented: ”These maps were drawn without public input, against the will of the school board, and for transparently partisan reasons.”  Click here to hear Sen. Stein’s full comments on SB 325.

Call or write to Wake County House members TODAY.
Ask your friends & family to do the same.
We must stop this interference in local representation!
  1. Marilyn Avila – 919-280-6084 – Marilyn.Avila@ncleg.net
  2. Nelson Dollar –  919-233-8399 – Nelson.Dollar@ncleg.net
  3. Jim Fulghum – 919-784-0129 – Jim.Fulghum@ncleg.net
  4. Rosa Gill – 919-821-0425 – Rosa.Gill@ncleg.net
  5. Duane Hall – 919-582-2111 – Duane.Hall@ncleg.net
  6. Yvonne Holley – 919-828-3873 – Yvonne.Holley@ncleg.net
  7. Darren Jackson – 919-733-5974 – Darren.Jackson@ncleg.net
  8. Chris Malone – 919-395-4903 – Chris.Malone@ncleg.net
  9. Tom Murry – 919-865-9993 – Tom.Murry@ncleg.net
  10. Deborah Ross – 919-832-6508 – Deborah.Ross@ncleg.net
  11. Paul Stam – 919-362-8873 – Paul.Stam@ncleg.net

To email all House members: housee-mail@ncleg.net

Your talking points:
  • This bill was neither requested by citizens nor the Wake County School Board. What happened to reducing “big government?” Passing this bill opens up the floodgates for similar legislation across the state.
  • Districts were just redrawn after the 2010 Census. Redrawing them so soon after is costly.  Taxpayers will have to foot the bill for for new Wake County voter cards (upwards of $200,000) and for costly litigation that is likely to occur.
  • The bill does not increase representation for voters, with its two proposed at-large districts.  In fact, the chance that children won’t attend a school in the district where their family lives increases. 
  • Redrawing lines that racially polarize the community does harm to our county. One of the at-large districts proposed creates a minority district.
  • Why not support a statewide proposal such as House Bill 606, Nonpartisan Redistricting Process, which offers a logical, cost effective approach to redistricting?