Early this week the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Education continued to review of the various funding sources for North Carolina public schools. The subcommittee, which is made up of House and Senate members who are charged with creating their chamber’s education budget proposal for the coming biennium, will continue this work this week by continuing to dig into funding sources in a meeting that is set for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday in Room 421 of the Legislative Office Building.
In a meeting held on Tuesday morning the subcommittee heard a presentation from the Department of Public Instruction on the federally funded program, Race to the Top. The presentation used during this discussion can be accessed here.
Bills involving the school curriculum continued to be filed this week, and one bill calling for one unit of art education to become a graduation requirement is already scheduled for debate and a possible vote by the House Education Committee on Tuesday, March 5 at 10 a.m.
School administrators who want to share comments or concerns about that bill should contact the bill sponsors and/or all members of the House Education Committee prior to the Tuesday meeting. Contact information for that committee may be accessed here. A brief summary of the bill and all other proposed legislation on curriculum changes is below.
- House Bill 127, Arts Education as a Graduation Requirement, would direct the State Board of Education to require one arts education credit for graduation from high school. (Scheduled for House Education Committee on 3/5/2013)
- House Bill 146, Back To Basics, would require the instruction of cursive writing and the memorization of multiplication tables are required in public schools, as part of the Basic Education Program. (Introduced this week and Referred to the House Education Committee)
- Senate Bill 132, Health Curriculum/Preterm Birth, would amend the School Health Education Program to add a requirement for information about the preventable causes of preterm birth, including induced abortion as a cause of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies. (Introduced this week.)
- Senate Bill 138, Bible Study Elective, would allow LEAs to offer students in grades 9 through 12 elective courses for credit in bible study, provided the course meets certain criteria. (Introduced this week.)
During their meeting with Speaker Thom Tillis on Tuesday, superintendents expressed their concern that tax credits, vouchers, and other school choice legislation will undermine support for traditional public schools.
Brunswick County Schools Superintendent Edward Pruden voiced concern to Speaker Tillis that such measures would re-segregate public schools based on socio-economic status. The entirety of Superintendent Pruden’s remarks can be found here.
Speaker Tillis responded that any tax credit or voucher legislation that he would support would be aimed at helping the poor and would have strict eligibility requirements. One tax credit bill was filed this week, and there are other school choice bills in the works, one of which is currently being crafted by Representative Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford.
Speaker Tillis acknowledged that this issue is one in which his office and the superintendents may not see eye to eye, but he suggested that superintendents work with Representative Brandon in crafting his legislation so that many of their concerns can be addressed.
A brief summary of the tax credit bill filed this week follows:
– House Bill 144, Homeschool Education Income Tax Credit, would create an income tax credit of $1,250 for parents of dependent children who are enrolled in home schools meeting certain requirements. (Introduced this week.)
North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis designated this week “Education Week” at the General Assembly. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Speaker Tillis met with superintendents, principals, and teachers during an open House Floor in which he asked each group to voice their concerns regarding public education, and to solicit feedback on proposals on education policy which is now under consideration in the General Assembly.
On Tuesday, Speaker Tillis met with 70 superintendents, during which time the Speaker and superintendents engaged in a dialogue over issues such as tax credits/vouchers, calendar flexibility, funding issues, teacher tenure, and other policy issues. WRAL TV provided a great synopsis of this session, and that coverage, which includes a video of the entire discussion, can be found here. Additionally, all superintendents present were recognized for service to public education during the House Education Committee on Tuesday morning.
Speaker Tillis held similar meetings with 37 principals of the year on Wednesday, and roughly 50 teachers of the year on Thursday.
A U.S. Department of Education report released on February 1st, applauds North Carolina as a leader in implementation of the four-year, $400 million Race to the Top grant.
Dr. June Atkinson, North Carolina State Superintendent, and Adam Levinson, Race to the Top Director for the Department of Public Instruction, shared the February report and the department’s current RTTT initiative progress to the House Education committee Tuesday.
North Carolina is one of three states, including Tennessee and Rhode Island, which “[have] overcome considerable challenges and stayed right on track,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, during a press conference on February 1st.
Major NC accomplishments cited by the USED include:
– Implementing a qualified evaluation system for teachers and principals
– Adopting a statewide growth model for tested subjects
– Developing evaluation measures for non-tested grades and subjects
– Transitioning to College and Career-Ready Standards, through professional development and diagnostic assessments for teachers
– Transitioning to online assessments
– Assisting low-performing schools through customized support provided by seventy-two coaches
– Building better data systems, through NC Education Cloud and Home Base
– Expanding STEM opportunities by serving students in three anchor and 12 affinity STEM schools and providing new, virtual STEM courses.
“North Carolina has set a clear path forward on comprehensive education reform that will better support teacher and principals and enable student growth for years to come,” said Duncan “They have overcome challenges and proved what’s possible when everyone works together.”
To view a copy of the report, please visit: http://www.ncpublicschools/rttt
Governor Pat McCrory announced in his first “State of the State” address that his new administration would focus on “transforming public education, improving the state’s economy and making government more efficient.”
Sticking to themes and a bipartisan approach that carried him to victory three months ago, the former Charlotte mayor also said during his Monday night address to all 170 legislators that North Carolina has fallen behind when it comes to public education and economic recruitment compared with other states and needs to catch up.
“We cannot accept the status quo,” he said to an audience that also included members of the Council of State, his Cabinet and appeals court members. “We cannot live off of a brand that needs updating and a major revamping.”
McCrory, the state’s first Republican governor in 20 years, delivered his address after about 6½ weeks in office. He signed his first bill into law earlier Monday – high school reform legislation that’s supposed to re-validate vocational education alongside college prep.
“I firmly believe in this that there are two pathways to success,” McCrory said during the speech.
He also asked lawmakers to give school districts flexibility to use N.C. Education Lottery funds for school technology and virtual learning and said money should be shifted away from what he called the “bloated and frankly annoying” lottery advertising and administrative costs. State law now limits lottery advertising expenses to no more than 1 percent of total lottery revenues.
In addition, McCrory pledged to reinstate the Education Cabinet and charge it with “breaking down the silos” that he says now exist for pre-kindergarten, K-12 schools, community colleges and universities and instead have all working together to provide students with a seamless transition in their educational experience.
Many of the Governor’s proposals are expected to surface either in his state budget plan that he will unveil in a few weeks or in legislation that House and Senate members are drafting now.
The following provides a brief synopsis of notable actions that either occurred this week or are scheduled for next week on legislation affecting public schools.
Bills introduced or debated this week:
- H93, Would provide school calendar flexibility to Craven County Schools. (Introduced this week.)
- H97, Would allow certain lottery funds now designated for school construction to also be used for digital learning. (Introduced this week.)
- H98, Would provide school calendar flexibility to Johnston County Schools. (Introduced this week.)
- S14 Would implement new endorsements for diplomas as well as offer other enhancements for career-technical education. (Approved by the House this week, ratified and sent to the Governor.)
Bills and other actions slated for next week:
- Governor Pat McCrory will deliver his first State of the State address to the full General Assembly in a joint session that will convene at 7 p.m. Monday, 2/18/13. The address will be audio-streamed over the Internet from the House chamber and may be accessed at http://www.ncleg.net/Audio/Audio.html.
- S16, Would provide for the license revocation of a person convicted of passing a stopped school bus. (Scheduled for Senate Judiciary II Subcommittee 2/19/13.)
- S42, Would designate charter schools as governmental units for the purposes of eligibility for a lease or real property transfer from another governmental unit, such as a county. (Scheduled for Senate State and Local Government Committee 2/19/13.)
- S52, Would allow Cleveland County to give, lease or sell certain property for use by Pinnacle Classical Academy, a charter school. (Scheduled for Senate State and Local Government Committee 2/19/13.)
For a complete summary of new legislation introduced this week and other action on bills affecting public schools and their personnel, please see NCASA’s Weekly Bill Action Summary.