#NCED Updates: Media Attacks Low-Income Student Scholarships, Wake County Still A Hot Mess and SAT ‘Adversity Scores’

NCED UPDATES LL1885In this edition of NC Education Updates: Charlotte Observer attacks low-income student scholarship fund changes, Wake County Public Schools is still a hot mess and what parents and students need to know about The College Board’s new “adversity scores.”

1 – Why do Editorial Boards hate low-income families?

In case you missed it, WRAL’s owners, The Capital Broadcasting Corporation, published an op-ed attacking the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides $4,200 a year to low-income families so their child can attend the private school of their choice. That op-ed was met with a scorching rebuttal by Mike Long, the President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.

Then the Charlotte Observer’s Editorial Board piled on, attacking the scholarships in a misleading rant titled, NC Republicans reveal their true colors on school vouchers.

The headline is a bit of an ‘own-goal’, really. Yes, Republicans really showed their true colors… by wanting every parent to be empowered and have choices for their child’s education.

The op-ed included a video featuring the NC Public School Forum’s Keith Poston, who last year showed his own true colors on school choice.

The $7k boost to the income threshold for Opportunity Scholarships is giving the Charlotte Observer Board the vapors:

“Senate Bill 609 would allow families that earn more than $70,000 a year to be eligible for the same private school vouchers available now to low-income families. The previous eligibility cap of $63,000 already was above the state’s median household income.”

Let’s talk about that $70,000. It’s for a family of four and is only 150% of the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch qualifying amount.

Earlier this year both the Charlotte Observer and News and Observer touted how a Nashonda Cooke, a single earner teacher (also an NCAE  board member and activist) making a ‘mere $69,000’ was allegedly poor. Now, according to these same outlets, a family of four with an income of $70,ooo is now rich?

By the end of the article the Charlotte Observer Board has shifted gears to claiming no one really wants these scholarships – even though the program is serving over 9,600 families:

“The problem is — it’s not working for N.C. Republicans so far. Even with vouchers, low-income families can only afford lower quality private schools. Most are saying no thanks, and Republicans can’t give their scholarship money away.”

The Charlotte Observer shows their ignorance of the purpose of the program too. The OSP isn’t about paying a whole tuition bill, it’s about helping families who want private school be able to afford it. And the families in the program have reported they love it and are thankful for it.

The truth this op-ed seeks to obscure is that applications for the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) are booming.

As of the beginning of May, there are currently 8,799 renewal applications for the OSP program and 3,936 new scholarships. That’s a total of 12,735 out of the 13,000 scholarships available.

The demand for the OSP is outstripping the current guidelines and is why Senate Bill 609 is expanding the eligibility criteria.  Want some hard numbers on that? Here are the number of applicants whose household income/size did not meet eligibility guidelines:

2014-15 – 567
2015-16 – 839
2016-17 – 944
2017-18 – 1,188
2018-19 – 1,288
2019-20 – 2,366

Notice a trend? Every single year, more families have applied to the program and more applications have been rejected for either income issues or for not meeting other criteria.

My recommendation: G0 read the actual bill, which does a lot more to enhance opportunities for North Carolina students than just increasing a scholarship threshold. For more details and useful links on the OSP, visit my past article, NC Opportunity Scholarship Program Truths.

While you’re at it, “Sign the Petition, Don’t let Cooper Freeze Opportunity Scholarships.

2 – Wake County Public Schools Are Still A Hot Mess

Where to start? How about with Wake County Board Member Jim Martin complaining about having to give public charter schools any money whatsoever?

“It makes no sense that charter schools get 8 to 9% of the money to repair school bus engines when they don’t have school buses,” Martin said in an interview.

Mr. Martin’s conflation aside, charter schools in Wake County get “8 to 9%” because that is what is owed to them because they are public schools. Don’t forget, Supt. Moore has proposed a $1.7 billion budget and has asked the Wake Commissioners for $48 million over last years budget to ‘maintain services’ despite the district only taking on 42 new students. Wake County Commissioner Greg Ford has joined Jim Martin in waging a campaign of disinformation about charter schools which I rebut in this Twitter thread.

In addition to blaming charter schools for their own budget woes, sources tell me that certain Wake County board members are actively working to torpedo the applications for five new schools trying to open in the county. I’ll have more on that as I get more details.

Wake County Public Schools is also continuing their tradition of making sure no one stands out or is recognized for their academic achievements at graduation. According to a report by Nick Hiu, now all seniors get to wear the honor stoles usually reserved for honor students in Latin.  When everyone is special, no one is.

I am still waiting on the results of a records request to Wake County Schools for the cost of “white privilege training” that took place in April and shut down the SCORE Academy for two days. I am also waiting on records from Wake County pertaining to a “Standard Treatment Protocol” and “SEL Screener” being used in the district with regards to the mental health of students.

3 – The College Board rolls out “Adversity Scores.”

“The Environmental Context Dashboard shines a light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less,” said College Board CEO David Coleman, in a statement. “It enables colleges to witness the strength of students in a huge swath of America who would otherwise be overlooked.”

Wait, what?

The College Board, run by “unqualified” Common Core mastermind David Coleman, is rolling out a report on every test taker that will produce an “adversity score.”

Again – wait, what?

This score made up of a set of 15 metrics selected by The College Board to profile SAT takers and rank them according to their “privilege or disadvantage.” This ranking will accompany a student’s scores to the college admissions boards.

Metrics said to be included are whether the test taker is from a single parent household or not, what level of school their parents have, crime rates of their neighborhood, the median income of their neighborhood, whether or not they speak English as a second language.

What sources this data is being pulled from is unknown. The College Board has not returned my request for comment on that point.

The College Board says race won’t be used, but the criteria they’re using will let admissions boards make a darn good guess what a student’s race is and will give schools plausibly deniability if sued for discrimination.

Currently, both Duke and UNC are facing such suits and officials with Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill say that they will begin using the new “Adversity Score” next year.

“No student can be defined fully by a single attribute, whether that attribute is a test score, a GPA or an activity outside the classroom,” Steve Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions, UNC-Chapel Hill, said in a press statement. “For that reason, we will continue to evaluate each student individually, comprehensively, and holistically, with the information provided by the dashboard.”

NC State has not said if it will use the scores or not but it was one of the 50 schools who piloted the program.

This “adversity score” has the feel of China’s social credit system and the smell of social engineering for appeasing the Gods of Equity and Diversity.

One of the most concerning aspects about the “adversity score” is that it is being done without the consent of the test takers. Students, who pay a fee to take the SAT, can’t opt-out or see the data being sent to colleges with their test score.

The fees for 2019-20 are $49.50 for just the SAT and $64.50 for the SAT with the essay component.

The ACT, which many schools accept instead of or in place of the SAT, has comparable costs. The smart money is on outraged parents and students voting with their feet by choosing ACT instead.

There is, of course, more to this story and it deals with the history of the SAT and The College Board.

Did you know that The College Board is a non-profit whose gross receipts for 2017 totaled over $1.3 billion? It was $1,323,179,014, to be exact.

President David Coleman’s total salary that year was $1,566,667 ($1,309,707 + $256,960 in additional compensation). Of the seventeen paid executives, no one made less than $264k and the COO, Jeffrey Singer made $810,601. In 2010-11, he made around $550k.


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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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