#NCED Updates: Leandro, the NEA and socialism, plus Gov. Cooper tries to dismantle school choice again

NCED UPDATES LL1885In this installment of #NCED updates, we’ll cover Governor Roy Cooper trying to dismantle school choice again, how the NEA is all in for socialism, Board of Ed tinkers with math again and some of the state education headlines, which include the Leandro case percolating again.

Note: If you are looking for Wake County Public Schools news, that topic has ballooned to the point where it is now getting its own dedicated update article.

#1 – NC Education Headlines

National Headlines

Take this report with a grain of salt. The Education Commission is stacked with former CCSSO /NGA members. Also, the commission boasts partners that include the usual “ed reformer crowd” like Gates Foundation, global corporate-level Ed reformers, testing and textbook companies, and North Carolina’s SAS Institute.

#2 – Governor Cooper takes another whack at dismantling school choice

Governor Roy Cooper took another swing at the program that currently gives scholarships to low-income students, saying in an interview that he’d feel better if he could just eliminate their funding.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program currently supports 9,651 low-income students statewide.

“What the Governor is doing is simply one-sided bullying against a program that he and his political allies do not like,” said Mike Long, President of Parents for Educational Freedom in NC (PEFNC).

Read the full response by PEFNC.

In other school choice news, Roy Cooper vetoed the bill that would expand virtual charter schools.

Civitas’ Bob Luebke’s scorching response to the veto, Fraud in public education; progressive style, highlights Cooper’s dismissal of the role of parents the juxtaposition of failing public schools.

Excerpt:

Gov. Roy Cooper’s war on school choice continues.

The governor vetoed SB 392 on July 29. Among other things, the bill would have allowed virtual charter schools to grow enrollment by up to 20 percent a year. Both schools, North Carolina Virtual Academy and Connections Academy, received a grade of “D” on North Carolina’s school performance grades last year.

While the grades are disappointing for those two schools, Cooper’s actions essentially stripped parents of the ability to decide their child’s educational future. Cooper justified his decision by saying the ability to add more students should remain with the State Board of Education, so it can measure progress and make decisions that will provide the best education for students.

So that’s it. Case closed. The governor is saying parents aren’t needed here, because government doesn’t trust your ability to secure a good education for your child. So, thanks anyhow, but administrators will now take care of the mess. In other words, parents don’t worry; The state will take that responsibility from you.

Cooper expects his words to inspire confidence and calm. They don’t.

In 2017-18, 472 public schools received performance grades of “D” – the same grade as the two virtual charter schools. In the last year the number of schools receiving a D grade increased by nine. A full 22 percent of all public schools in North Carolina received grades of D or F on school performance grades. Is the State Board tracking and measuring progress for these schools as well?

It’s worth mentioning that NC Virtual charter schools employ hundreds of teachers.  Flashback: Roy Cooper hates school choice. ALL school choice.

#3 – NC SPIN’s Tom Campbell says charters are ‘resegregating’ NC schools. 

No one is buying Campbell’s inflammatory comparison and several people put their objections to pen and paper. Just under half dozen rebuttals to Campbell hit multiple papers across the state, including an anonymous posting right on the NC SPIN website:

“Finally, the misguided notion of re-segregation deflects from the most important issue: a parent’s right to choose a high-quality school that meets the needs of their child. Parents of means have always had the ability to choose the best education available. Charter schools level the playing field because they give all families the right to choose.”

Here are of excerpts from two other rebuttals.

Founder of the Sallie B. Howard School for Arts and Education JoAnne Woodward writes that’s she’s “increasingly uncomfortable with idea that “charter schools cause segregation.”

More Woodward:

Parents and students flock to schools like ours for many reasons, but ultimately for the academic success. It’s also understandable that successful schools with a certain demographic will attract students reflecting that same racial makeup.

That isn’t segregation. It’s voluntary association — or, in other words, choice.

Let’s be clear: segregation was legally sanctioned separation based on race and often enforced with violence. It’s a divisive, highly charged term that carries a painful history in this country. Charter schools are about choice. Referring to the unexpected impact of school choice as “re-segregation” is polarizing and distracts from the main issue: student achievement.

This description says it best: “segregation is when someone blocks a door, not when you don’t like the open doors that are freely chosen.”

Another powerful response came from Lindalyn Kakadelis, the board chair for the NC Coalition for Charter Schools.

In her opening sentence, Kakadelis bluntly points out that charter opponents using the term segregation is a purposeful smear, and is “associated with the Jim Crow era ending 65 years ago, is intentional. This word alludes to a despicable time in our history.”

“North Carolina’s education establishment is increasing negative propaganda for a strategic assault. Its goal is to stop the growth of N.C. K-12 education options at any cost or with any message,” Kakadelis wrote.

Kakadelis then drops some fact bombs, blowing the segregation narrative out of the water.

“N.C. charter schools have a higher percentage of black students (26.2%) enrolled than district schools (25.2%). Both are basically the same!” wrote Kakadelis. “Since charter schools are schools of choice, there is no “segregation,” only “voluntary association.”

Kakadelis goes on to point out that most of NC’s district schools mandate assignment using a child’s ZIP code and asks if a school is predominantly one race under that process, “does it make it evil/corrupt?”

#4 – NC State Board Updates – Tinkering with Math and the high cost of “Business Modernization.”

It appears that for several months, the NC State Board of Education has been tinkering with 4th-level math. Remember, North Carolina’s Standard Course of Study is the Common Core State Standards and, in years past, states were warned about changing or altering any of the standards.

The NC State Board of Education plans to implement and have assessments to match it starting in the 2020-2021 school year.

The listed objectives of the changes:

The most recent draft of the changes to Level 4 math can be viewed here.

Note that NC math EOG scores plummeted after the implementation of Common Core in 2012 and proficiency levels never really recovered. Under Common Core, math scores have been mainly stagnant or flat. Last years EOG scores are here, along with links to all previous years I have reported on at the bottom of the article.

High Cost of Business Modernization

The Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI) was given the green light and funding from the legislature for “Business Modernization” efforts.

Arguably, these efficiency improvements are needed and a vendor has been chosen, but it’s not just DPI that is getting the overhaul. Multiple districts are also choosing to upgrade their systems.

From Yahoo News:

Tyler Technologies Inc. (TYL) announced today that it has signed contracts with several North Carolina K-12 school districts under the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) School Business Systems Modernization Program. New Hanover County Schools, Stanly County Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Swain County Schools, and Craven County Schools have selected Tyler’s Munis® enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to help enhance school business operations and improve overall efficiency in their districts.

The press release associated with this news does not include any contract details and the state board has not posted the contract amount yet, so there is no telling what the price tag is.

However, the Friday Institute is already over $20 million in state and federal funds for “Business Modernization” efforts according to the approved contracts list at the State Board of Education meeting this month:

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) intends to enter an agreement with the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (FI) under the University of North Carolina Master Agreement (Version 001 dated June 2003) to provide ongoing planning and design support for the School Connectivity Initiative (SCI) and for the emerging Business System Modernization (BSM) program.

Total Approved Contracts for FY 19-20: 5
Total Cost:
$12,574,075.10 State
$6,634,864.90 Federal

#5 – Senator Berger’s Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019 (SB 438) passed the House; only 3 Democrats voted yes.

The bill does a long list of things, but the main thrust is addressing third-grade reading by revamping Read to Achieve, which has not been effective in raising reading proficiency score. Of note, it orders the creation of Individual Reading Plans (IRP’s) and a study to look into “phasing out” alternative 3rd-grade reading assessments.

Sen. Berger issued a press release:

“The Excellent Public Schools Act was written in coordination with Governor Cooper’s own appointees to the State Board of Education. A majority of Democrats supported the bill in the Senate, but just three House Democrats voted for it today.

“I hope that’s not a signal that Governor Cooper intends to veto a bill that his own administration helped write. The legislation provides evidence-based reforms to early childhood literacy initiatives and it matters to every child and parent in this state.

“The Governor has stopped responding to my messages, but I hope he doesn’t jeopardize an early reading program just because of the name of the bill sponsor. Governor Cooper needs to sign this bill immediately.”

We’ll see what Cooper does.  There’s nothing hugely objectionable in the bill, but Cooper has “ghosted” lawmakers on budget negotiations, so who knows what he will or won’t sign these days.

#4 – The NEA and Socialism

“I consider it ironic to use communist imagery to raise campaign contributions from a proletariat for a multi-million-dollar PAC of a $1.62 billion organization, ” wrote Mike Antonucci in an article at the 74 Million on how the NEA is using ‘community allies memberships’ to pad its political spending.

Related: NEA asks teachers to bankroll socialism

Reminder: Teachers continue to leave the NCAE, which has lost 33.5% of its membership in the last five years.

#5 – Legislative Updates

Bills of note that saw movement in the last week include:

SB 522: Low Perf. Schools/Stand. Student Conduct
SB 230: NC Military and Veterans Act of 2019
SB 295: Standards of Student Conduct
SB 458: PTS Injury Day/Cardiac Task Force/Titus’s Law/Data
SB 681: Rur Hlth Care/Loc. Sales Tax Flex/Util. Acct.

An important bill currently sitting in committee:

SB 621: Testing Reduction Act of 2019

Three bills in that failed to concur in the Senate and all three originated in the Senate:

SB 199: Child Sex Abuse/Strengthen Laws
SB 354: Sam’s Law
SB 476: Compt-Based Assess. & Mental Hlth/Teen Violence

Despite nearly weekly reports of teachers having sexual interactions with NC public school children, no bill has been filed to address this epidemic. The closest any of them come is SB 199, which wants to train teachers to better spot and report on suspected child abuse.

Sources tell me that SB 199 will be undergoing further debate this week and that outside non-profit groups and lobbyists are trying to kill certain provisions of SB 199.  That activity has legislators balking at two provisions, one being the extension of the statute of limitations (SOL) for civil actions regarding sex crimes committed against minors.

Those advocating for the SB 199 hope that sexual abuse survivors will reach out to their House representative before the next discussion of the bill which is said to be happening on Tuesday, Aug. 13.


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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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1 Response to #NCED Updates: Leandro, the NEA and socialism, plus Gov. Cooper tries to dismantle school choice again

  1. Pingback: #NCED Updates: School Choice punches back, War on parents and various headlines | LL1885

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