This installment of NCED Updates covers Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of Sen. Phil Berger’s bill that revamps Read to Achieve, useless background checks on teachers and headlines from across the state and the nation.
#1 – Roy Cooper vetoes Read to Achieve Revamp
Governor Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 438 known as the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019.
“Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly. A contract dispute over the assessment tool adds to uncertainty for educators and parents. This legislation tries to put a Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed,” said Cooper in his veto message.
Both Sen. Berger and Lt. Governor Dan Forest issued statements slamming Cooper for his veto and highlighting that Cooper’s own education people, including Cooper’s State Board of Education appointee J.B. Buxton, approved of and helped create the bill.
“The Governor’s own administration helped write this bill because helping kids learn to read wasn’t a partisan issue – until now,” Sen. Berger said in a statement. “The real reason Governor Cooper blocked this early childhood reading program is because of the name of the bill sponsor: Phil Berger. Blocking a kids reading program written in part by his own appointees is a clear failure of leadership from Governor Cooper and another black eye for an administration floundering in its attempt to govern our state.”
“Governor Cooper has shown yet again that he’s willing to put partisan games over North Carolina’s schoolchildren,” said the Lt. Governor. “Cooper’s own team helped craft this bill, and it passed with strong bipartisan support. It remains clear that the Governor is more concerned about scoring political points than improving student outcomes.”
This revamp was sorely needed. Cooper’s veto unfairly punishes tens of thousands of K-3 children. His veto message is inadvertently a slap in the face to former state Supt. June Atkinson — she implemented it.
#2 – Useless Background Checks
Indeed there are no laws requiring fingerprinting, however, I’ve found that background checks can be and have been useless in the majority of cases where teachers have committed a crime, especially one involving a student.
North Carolina’s districts are left to their own devices to conduct these checks instead of a uniform statewide system. Even if one were implemented, these checks would need to be repeated at least biannually and frankly would do very little to combat the Quiet Epidemic of NC teachers sexually assaulting K-12 students.
State officials talk a big game about protecting students from shooting and violence threats, yet they do nothing about the sex abuse that’s plaguing our schools.
I’ve tracked dozens of teachers arrested on sex-related charges involving students over the last four years, and these are just the ones that made the news or I received tips about.
2016 – 34 arrests
2017 – 55 arrests
2018 – 41 arrests
2019 – 39 arrests (So far.)
Related News: Parents say CMS got wind of volunteer – long before police say he abused their child | Charlotte Observer
In April 2018, after Ricardo Mata had been charged with sexually assaulting a first-grader at Eastover Elementary School, then-schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox assured families that the longtime Spanish-language volunteer had been thoroughly vetted.
“All CMS employees and volunteers must pass background checks,” Wilcox, who resigned in July, wrote in an email to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents on April 27, 2018.
“Mr. Mata passed the background checks because he had no prior criminal charges.”
According to public documents and a new lawsuit filed by the parents of the Eastover child, Wilcox’s statement was not true.
Whether Wilcox knew it or not, when CMS backgrounded Mata in 2013, investigators found at least two felony arrests, a criminal conviction that had been overturned on appeal and two incidents in which Mata was suspected of molesting young students, one of them from CMS, documents show.
More: NC police, school district alerted to concerns with principal 10+ years before sex crimes arrest | CBS 17
#3 – NC State News & Headlines
- NCPTA has new leadership; President Harold Dixon, and Executive Director Mari Urness.
- Reassigned Clayton Principal files grievance to be reinstated.
- Former Teacher of the Year James Ford dodges answering the question: Define “Equity.“
- NC Chamber of Commerce peddling the same line about education and skills “mismatches” that it did during the Common Core controversy.
- NC Launches new teacher recruitment tool: TEACHNC
- Teacher shortages are “Back-to-school fake news“
- DPI is giving districts “an additional $400 per kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third-grade classroom” to buy devices that can be used “to support K-3 literacy, including through personalized learning, with teaching materials, high-quality curriculum, professional development, or technology.” Read more.
- Univ. of NC School of the Arts prof slams faculty diversity workshop, claims admin using Orwell as ‘instruction manual’. Read more.
National News and Headlines
- The president of Puerto Rico’s Teacher’s Union, Aida Díaz, will resign from the presidency after 17 years, this in light of an alleged conflict of interest over her husband’s $4.8 million in contracts with the Department of Education over the last 9 years. (Link – the article is in Spanish, but browsers can translate to English).
- Chicago Teachers Union group under fire for crowdfunding trip to Socialist Venezuela. More: A group calling itself the “Chicago Teachers Union Delegation” went to Venezuela, praised the socialist government. (Factoid: The Chicago teachers union is who the NCAE’s Organize 2020 model themselves after.)
- Pennsylvania’s Democrat Governor keeps trying to kill school choice; specifically charter schools.
- Kentucky finds 1,000 teachers ‘sick-out’ tactics violated the law.
This could have ramifications for North Carolina if the NCAE attempts to organize another illegal strike here.
- Back to School and Howard Zinn in the Classroom
- Illinois public schools will start teaching LGBT history next year: “An inclusive education system can create change”
Illinois is quite literally failing at the basics. NAEP scores 8th graders in IL only have 35% of students reading proficiently at grade level and only 32% can do math proficiently. That means that 65% of Illinois 8th graders likely won’t be able to read or comprehend that “LGBT history” next year.
- David Hogg resurfaces; March for Our lives rolls out a new campaign. Still no protest in Chicago.