This edition of NCED Updates will cover a lot of ground from New Hanover County Public Schools predator problem to Istation updates, Common Core, Leandro, the NCAE and upcoming elections.
This edition kicks off with national headlines and a disturbing attack on school choice in Florida.
Beware of the NY Times 1619 Project; NYT effort to “rewrite American history” adopted in many public schools (Parents in Greensboro, wake up. It’s already there.)
Latest curriculum teaches Lincoln was racist, American Revolution fought to keep slavery Key Quote: “The “1619 Project” picks up where Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” left off.”
When the Cancel Culture rage mob comes for children and their schools
Arizona’s education chief may not like vouchers, but she must follow the law
Arizona’s Ed Dept. released personal info on 7,000 special needs kids — including their diagnoses — to anti #schoolchoice activists.
Democrat Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani tried to cancel a school choice program in Florida by posting donors on Twitter for the outrage mob to attack. I’ve archived her tweet for when she is forced to delete it.
The “voucher” system she is referring to is a tax credit scholarship. Businesses who donate funds for the scholarship to help these kids get a tax write off. The students served by these scholarships are mainly low income, minority, and special needs students.
Eskamani’s tweet does not go as planned. Cato Institute’s Corey DeAngelis along with dozens of others responded.
Eskamani’s cancel culture rhetoric apparently bore fruit, Stand up for Students lost $6 million in investments, which translated to 800 kids losing their scholarships.
All of this goe the attention of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who called out companies for their withdrawal from school vouchers a publicity stunt.
“They aren’t punishing the small handful of schools whose policies they don’t like,” Rubio said. “They are punishing the thousands of underprivileged parents and students who may lose the chance to attend a school they otherwise couldn’t afford.”
He’s not wrong. These businesses bowed to the rage mob.
In related news, it would appear that Rep. Eskamani’s radical cancel culture effort to kill educational choices for Florida students is not shared by all of her colleagues:
FL School Choice program expansion bill get bi-partisan support boost
#1 – New Hanover County’s Predator Problem continues
New Hanover is dealing with the backlash from parents and the public after a third prolific predator was caught in their district in as many years. The most recent arrest was Peter Frank, a band teacher at Roland Grise Middle school.
Parents in the district, both past and present, are very, very upset.
“There have been many alarm bells sounded through the years that resulted in great outrage, false starts, and broken promises. It has been a long journey for many of us who have to question why it will be different this time after the arrest of Mr. Frank,” Burnett wrote in a letter to the New Hanover County School Board.
Parents of students at Roland Grise are about to be even more upset.
Last night, WECT reported that Roland Grise’s principal sent this letter out which indicates a second staffer is now being investigated for possible misconduct with regard to students:
“This allegation was thoroughly investigated and law enforcement cleared the staff member of any criminal wrongdoing,” the letter notes. “New Hanover County Schools and law enforcement will continue to investigate all allegations and complaints made at Roland Grise as the safety of our students and staff is our number one priority. We ask that if you have credible information about any situation that you contact law enforcement or visit Ethix360 at nhcs.net to file a complaint.”
At the board meeting earlier this past week, speakers during the public comments portion of the meeting called for Supt. Tim Markley to resign or be fired. He was not fired and did not resign at that time.
The resignation of a different high ranking administration member was announced at the board meeting though. The board said that Dr. John Welmers, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources had resigned. No reason was given for Welmers’ resignation.
By Friday, Markley had resigned. According to WECT, “The board will pay Markley $195,000 in severance and $32,966.66 in benefits.”
The public wants more than just Markley’s resignation. A petition to remove Rick Holliday’s name from Laney Stadium was started by angry parents in New Hanover County.
“Due to the egregious nature of events that occurred under the supervision of Rick Holliday during his stint with New Hanover County Schools, we believe it is in the best interest of our community to remove Rick Holliday’s name from the Laney Football Stadium, ” the petition reads.
The petition also blames Holliday, and says that he “knew of sexual misconduct allegations against now-convicted child molester and former teacher Michael Kelly and DID NOT fulfill his state-mandated duty to report this to Law Enforcement Officials.”
To add to the tension, Port City Daily reported that the New Hanover County school board wasn’t notified and didn’t authorize administrators’ mass review of all their personnel files. These mass reviews apparently took place after a warrant was used to seize the personnel file for Peter Frank:
“On Tuesday, the district confirmed that all of the principals in the New Hanover County Schools (NHCS) district had been “instructed to review their school level personnel files for all employees” to “ensure school-level administrators are familiar with the files of their staff as well as identify potential concerns.”
“It remained unclear who had initiated the move or why the administration had chosen this particular time for such a sweeping review of all personnel files — instead of, for example, after the arrest of Michael Earl Kelly or Nicholas Lavon Oates, or after an investigation into the district’s potential failure to report sexual predators was announced last year.”
For those in the area who can tune in, I’ll be on the Joe Catenacci radio program on BigTalker Radio 106.7 FM next Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 9:35 am to discuss what is going on in New Hanover.
Some suggested articles on the New Hanover predator problem here:
- Deep Dive: A long hard look at New Hanover County Schools’ arrests, allegations, and administration
- ‘We don’t feel like they are safe:’ Commissioners offer support teams, mental health counselors to New Hanover Co. schools
- ‘I don’t understand how you can be a pedophile and keep your job’: 12-year old asks NHC School Board
- In the fallout of New Hanover schools sex scandal, many feel superintendent should be held accountable
- New Hanover County Commissioners propose sending investigators, social workers into schools
- New Hanover County school board wasn’t notified, didn’t authorize administrators’ personnel file ‘review’
#2 – The NCAE is making sure teacher pay is back in the news
In an article at ABC11, the topic of teacher pay is painted as a dispute between teachers and politicians, yet it features mainly NCAE members refusing to blame Roy Cooper for twice vetoing teacher pay raises not once, but twice.
Teacher pay was increased every year for the last five years and so has the education budget. According to the NCGA’s nonpartisan Fiscal Research Division, here are the average salary increases from 2014-15 to 2018-19:
2014-15 – 7.0%
2015-16 – 3.8%
2016-17 – 4.7%
2017-18 – 3.3%
2018-19 – 6.5%
Included in the article is NCAE President Mark Jewell not being truthful about who they did and did not allow to speak at the 2019 strike event:
“Back to May of 2019, that massive rally left no room on the stage for Republicans to speak, despite a request from the State Treasurer made in advance with hopes of explaining benefits.
“Many folks asked us to speak,” Mark Jewell, President of the NCAE said. “Democrats and Republicans alike. Elected officials and candidates, we rejected all of those. We did not want it to turn into a political rally, it was really about education.”
Governor Roy Cooper addressed the crowd that day at the invitation of the NCAE.
The NCAE also had the highly controversial Reverend William Barber speak at the event.As a point of fact, Gov. Cooper was also invited to speak at the NCAE’s 2018 strike. No such invitation was extended to any Republican leader. ABC11 asked Jewell “if the NCAE has a preference to the Democratic party,” and Jewell told them “I keep going back that public education is neither Democrat or Republican. It has always been in our core value and in our constitution that every citizen should have access to basic, sound public education.”
To ABC11’s credit, they didn’t let it go and included that a look at NCAE PAC political donations:
“A dive into campaign contributions made from the NCAE PAC reveals a bit of a different tale. Reviewing reports dating back to 2014 made to the North Carolina Board of Elections detailed which candidates received NCAE support–nearly all Democrats, with multiple donations made to the North Carolina Democratic Party. Zero were made to the North Carolina GOP.”
Speaking of the NCAE, there are five Democrats running for state superintendent and they have endorsed officially endorsed Jennifer Mangrum.
Mangrum has also been endorsed by the Wake NCAE, Durham People’s United, NC Teacher’s United (an NCAE offshoot), Diane Ravitch, Lillian’s List, as well as multiple Democrats members of the General Assembly, the late Kay Hagan, and former NCDP chair Patsy Keever.
One might recall that Mangrum, who is a clinical associate professor in the School of Education at UNC-Greensboro, challenged Senator Phil Berger in 2018 and lost by over 19,000 votes. Berger brought in 43,132 votes (62.63%) to Mangrum’s 23,558 (34.21%).
#3 – NC Superindentent Race
The far-Left and anti-School Choice Public Schools First NC (PS1NC) hosted a forum for the candidates. It was not a debate, but a guided Q&A session led by WRAL’s David Crabtree.
PS1NC bizarrely separated the questioning into two sessions, one for Republican candidates and one for the Democrats.
Lindsey Marchello of Carolina Journal has a decent tweet thread that grabs the bigger issues and comments. Spoiler alert: Not a single Democrat came out in favor of any kind of school choice.
Four of the five Democrats also attacked the Opportunity Scholarships, incorrectly calling them vouchers. Those scholarships serve low-income students, many of which are minority students. (Read more about the OSP here.)
Jennifer Mangrum said that she thinks NC private school vouchers are “unconstitutional.” Mangrum said that “Vouchers are starving public schools.” She said hopes someone sues over them again. Last time a suit was brought, the NC State Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that scholarships were constitutional.
On the Republican side, Catherine Truitt said she supports the Opportunity Scholarship Program as it exists now, but would not expand it.
Since there were more then two candidates, but in fact five Democrats running, I’ve written a short piece since for North State Journal and will do a longer one with whoever wins the primary if they agree to it. Michael Maher has already reached out to me and said he would if he won.
#4 – Istation updates
Eric Boyette, the person blocking the state from moving forward to use Istation, has been moved over to NC Dept. of Transportation to replace Secretary Jim Trogdon. Last week, Gov. Cooper announced Trogdon has resigned and would backfill that position with Dept. of Information Technology’s (DIT) Eric Boyette, who was the official evaluating Amplify’s appeal of the Istation contract.
DIT’s general counsel Jonathan Shaw will now have to make his recommendations on the appeal to the new DIT Secretary, Tracy Doaks. (More at N&O)
#5 – Common Core and History getting a review
State Supt Mark Johnson announced that the NC DPI “will be re-examining the Common Core standards and U.S. history requirements…”
In light of the alleged changes in standards happening in Florida, Mark Johnson has decided in his last and final year as superintendent to work on his campaign promise to get rid of Common Core.
I am not holding my breath that Florida’s changes are significant and I am skeptical that Johnson will follow through. I recommend taking a look at my friend Barry Garelick’s first take on the changes in Florida.
The standards for history are also going to be looked at according to a press release, which I cannot find on the newly revamped Dept. of Public Instruction website. The best I can do is copy screen captures of it:
#6 – Leandro updates
Not a lot of movement on the Leandro front. This thing will likely inch along like a wet sponge on a gravel race track — that is to say, painfully slowly.
I’m keeping all important Leandro documentation on my Document Cloud account for the public to access. Two recent articles on the case are below.
Leandro measures will fail under current governance system
This is a well-thought-out description by Dr. Stoops about how education governance in North Carolina is akin to a Jackson Pollock painting.