#NCED Updates: School Choice Week, NCAE Strike, Istation updates and Teacher Turnover

This installment of NCED updates will cover School Choice Week news, NCAE’s proposed strike, Istation updates, the preview of the annual teacher turnover report and headlines both local and national.  Also, a Quiet Epidemic recap for January.

National Headlines

Higher Ed

Local Headlines

#1 – School Choice Week

A Civitas poll revealed that of 800 registered NC voters recently polled, including an oversampling of minority voters, 81% want the ability to choose where their child attends school.  Also, 76% of those polled said that parents, not the government, should choose where their children attend school.

Triangle area School Choice advocate Angela Humphries sat down with former legislator Marcus Brandon who now heads CarolinaCAN. Check out their discussion about the critical need for school choice in his community, his political party and across our state.

The Charter School Advisory Board recommended their charter school renewals this past week.

10-year charter renewal for six schools:
Excelsior Classical Academy, Henderson Collegiate, Kestrel Heights School, Lake Lure Classical, Northeast Academy of Aero Tech, Winterville Charter Academy

A seven-year renewal for seven schools:
Charlotte Lab School, KIPP Durham College Prep, Mountain Island Charter School, PreEminent Charter, Queen City STEM School, Shining Rock Classical Academy: CFA, Youngsville Academy

A five-year renewal for three schools:
PAVE Southeast Raleigh Charter School, Piedmont Classical High School, Wilmington Prep Academy

A three-year renewal for two schools:
Rocky Mount Preparatory, VERITAS Community School, CFA

Non-Renewal was recommended for: Ignite Innovation Academy

#2  – NCAE strike is about suffering

In an article backing a News and Observer editorial, an NCAE member is quoted as saying that they should hold a strike so “parents can suffer.”

With messaging like that, it is no wonder the NCAE board’s strike plans have fizzled out for now.  A strike in North Carolina is illegal, read about why.

#3 – Istation Reading Assessment Tool

DIT’s Chief canceled Supt. Mark Johnson’s emergency contract with Istation, but then turned around and approved an identical new emergency contract for schools to use Istation.

State Chief Information Officer Eric Boyette last week canceled the $928,570 emergency contract that Johnson had signed Jan. 7 for elementary schools to use the Istation program through March 31. Boyette says in a memo, dated Thursday, that Johnson had ample time to get the state Department of Information Technology’s permission before signing the contract but did not do so.

But with schools needing a program to test students under the Read To Achieve law, Boyette told the state Department of Public Instruction to issue a new emergency contract. DIT approved the new contract on Friday, which Graham Wilson, a DPI spokesman, noted is identical to the original emergency contract. (News & Observer)

That sure is some partisan bureaucracy in action.

#4 – NCED By The Numbers

North Carolina ranks 12th in how we prepare our kids to read, however, there is a gigantic “but” to that ranking (emphasis added):

“Three in 10 children aren’t able to read by the end of the third grade in the U.S., but the numbers are worse in the Tar Heel state. Just 36% of North Carolina students scored at or above a fourth-grade reading level in 2019, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a project within the U.S. Department of Education.” (Carolina Journal)

Also, Supt. Johnson and the State Board of Ed met and declared that our kids are not reading well and that the reason is our teachers must not be well-trained in the “science of reading.” They also kicked around the idea that maybe the state needs to change Read To Achieve. School leaders like WCPSS’s Supt. Moore piled on.

Read about this exchange in the section of the State Board of Education’s newsletter titled “Board Focuses on Grade Retention Required Under Read to Achieve Law.”

Teacher Turnover drops for the third year in a row

A preview of the annual State of The Teaching Profession Report is out. The full report won’t drop until February 15.

Quick highlights:

  • Just over  7,000 of the state’s 94,000 public school teachers left the teaching in the state during the 2019-19 school year. That translates to a teacher turnover rate of 7.5%, down from 8.1% in 2017-18 and 8.7% in 2016-17.
  • Teach for America teachers had the highest rate again with 20.1% and 16.7% of them left before their contract was up.
  • Visiting International Faculty (VIF) had the second-highest turnover rate at 15.8% and over 11% of them left before their contract was up.
  • The beginning teacher turnover rate was 11.8%. In the previous report, it was 12.34%.

Until the full report comes out, the detailed breakdown of the reasons why teachers left the profession won’t be known. Since 2015, the number one reason teachers left was retiring with full benefits.  Relocation and career change are also consistently two of the other top reasons.

#5 – Quiet Epidemic Recap for January

The month of January netted six teacher arrests reported across the state.

Patrick Christian Shaw - WCPSS - Quiet Epidemic

Patrick Christian Shaw

The first teacher arrest to be tracked in 2020 is a high school teacher in the Wake County Public School System arrested on charges of driving while impaired with a child in the backseat.

Patrick Christian Shaw, age 43, was arrested around 1 am on Saturday, Jan. 11 on charges of driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse. His blood alcohol content was registered at 0.09. North Carolina’s legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08.

Justin Andrew Avery - Rowan - Quiet Epidemic

Justin Andrew Avery

A second Rowan County Schools teacher was arrested in connection with sexually explicit messages to a student via social media apps.  Additional charges were been added to the first teacher, who was arrested in late 2019, and a third man is sought by authorities.

On Sunday, Jan. 12, Police arrested and charged Justin Andrew Avery, age 29, with third-degree exploitation of minor and indecent liberty with a child.

Donovan Perez Hernandez - Grose - Avery - Quiet Epidemic

Donovan Perez Hernandez

The third arrest this year was Brian Antonio Guerrero, age 24, arrested on Monday, Jan. 20 and charged with second-degree forcible rape.  Police said that the charge against him did not involve any students and that an adult was the victim.

He was issued a secure bond of $350,000 and was taken to the Randolph County Detention Center. Guerrero taught Honors Math II, Honors Math III at Randolph Early College High School.

Dottie Lynn Bailey- Alexander - Quiet Epidemic

Dottie Lynn Bailey

An Alexander County Public Schools teacher Dottie Lynn Bailey, age 45, was charged with misdemeanor assault on a handicapped student that included “forcefully grabbing her arm and spanking her bottom.”

Police say the alleged incident took place on Dec. 13 of 2019. News of this incident did not reach the press until Jan. 21, 2020. Bailey was employed at Hiddenite Elementary School and resigned following her arrest and the beginning of an investigation by the district in December.

PETER MICHAEL FRANK - New Hanover - Quiet Epidemic

Peter Michael Frank

Of the January arrests, one of the most alarming is the fifth one, that of Peter Frank, a band teacher in New Hanover County Schools. He’s so far been charged with 12 felonies in connection to inappropriate contact with students.

Frank is the third such prolific predator in as many years that seems to have kept his job despite documented issues by the district and accusations of misconduct from parents.

The New Hanover School Board held a press conference on Thursday. After reading a prepared statement, local media barraged them with very pointed questions.

Near the end of the press event, the fireworks started with board member Judy Justice lighting up her fellow board members. Watch the press conference below:

 

Daniel Joseph Dyer

The sixth arrest in January was Cleveland County teacher Daniel Joseph Dyer, age 27 of Kings Mountain. He was arrested by the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 28 and charged with one count of taking Indecent Liberties with a minor and was issued a $25,000 secured bond, which was posted and he was released.  

Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Joel Shores said that propositioned a 15-year-old boy over multiple social media platforms. Two specific apps used were Grinder and Snapchat.


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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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