Home > Uncategorized > NC’s Public School Forum Offers Fix For Schools Poor Rankings in Education Week’s Quality Counts Report

NC’s Public School Forum Offers Fix For Schools Poor Rankings in Education Week’s Quality Counts Report

January 25, 2018

WRAL.com‘s editorial page shared an op ed piece from North Carolina’s Public School Forum that offered a 10 point plan to improve the State’s low rankings on the recently released “Quality Counts” report issued annually by Education Week. The “Quality Counts” report ranks states based on test scores, various metrics on teacher and administrator quality, the availability of services for students, and the funding mechanisms for public schools. There was a time not so long ago that North Carolina was one of the better states in the union and a decided leader among Southern states. But no longer: this year the state received a C- overall (40th in the nation) and a D (45th in the nation) in school finance. This is not surprising given the actions taken by the GOP who dominates the state legislature, most of which have been covered in earlier posts on this blog. In response to this ranking, the Public School Forum offered ten recommendations to leaders in the state, recommendations that the WRAL.com editorial board wholeheartedly supported. They are:

  • Fix the class-size mandate crisis, providing certainty to students, parents and educators. The legislature should fully fund the kindergarten-3rd grade class-size mandate and provide additional time for implementation. Failing that, the legislature should continue to give local schools flexibility in teacher allocations.
  • Provide adequate and equitable funding for schools, including the buildings. Address the growing gaps between poor and wealthy school systems – and related student achievement gaps.
  • Insist on transparency and accountability for school choice (voucher) programs. Taxpayers should know just how their money is being spent on vouchers and private education savings accounts; private schools should have to disclose information on curriculum, student achievement on par with public schools.
  • Recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers and principals. Improve principal pay, which is the lowest in the nation. Restore retiree health benefits for future teachers (as well as other state workers).
  • Fix the faulty A-F school grading system with indicators that more accurately reflect what in schools is working and truly measures student achievement.
  • Scale up successes for the state’s struggling schools by restoring funds to the Department of Public Instruction’s successful “Turn Around Lowest Achieving Schools” intervention model, provide more incentives for the most talented teachers to work in struggling schools and provide charter-like flexibility to more public schools.
  • Adopt a “whole child” approach to health and learning. All students should have access to high-quality afterschool programs and out-of-school learning opportunities.
  • Pursue “outcomes-focused” strategies around racial equity. Do more to diversify the teacher workforce; increase minority enrollment in advance placement and higher-level coursework.
  • Build on the state’s investment in early childhood education.
  • Policy makers must do better at governing public schools. Policymakers, education leaders and parents must effectively work together.

This is not calling for a radical overhauling of schooling as envisioned by the GOP legislature. Indeed, instead of calling for the dismantling of the school choice (voucher) programs passed by the legislature it is calling for them to provide taxpayers with clear and accurate information on “...how their money is being spent on vouchers and private education savings accounts” and requiring that private schools “…disclose information on curriculum, student achievement on par with public schools.” If wild-eyed radicals or even middle of the road liberals were on the committee making recommendations, it’s hard to believe that the continuation of voucher programs would be included in the list of recommendations.

But, as the editorial infers, business friendliness (i.e. low taxes and opportunities for the expansion of for-profit deregulated private schools) are valued in North Carolina more that fully funded public schools that provide services to children raised in poverty. My hunch is that it will be easier for NC voters to replace the legislators in office than it will be to change the hearts and minds of those in office today. Here’s hoping they do so, for the sake of the children who are being short changed.

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