This past week, Education Week released its “Quality Counts Report” for 2018. It is a yearly report that ranks each state (and D.C.) with a report card that measures a variety of variables.
As reported by T. Keung Hui of the News & Observer:
Issues with school funding and student achievement dropped North Carolina to 40th in the country in a new report card on public education, continuing a downward trend in the rankings for the Tar Heel state.
North Carolina received a C- grade and a score of 70.6 out of a possible 100 in the 2018 Quality Counts report released this week by Education Week. That’s below the national grade of C and score of 74.5
North Carolina’s score put it 40th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia (http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article195365259.html).
You can find the report here: https://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/quality-counts-2018-state-grades/index.html.
In 2011, NC was ranked 19th.
In 2015, NC was ranked 34th.
In 2016, NC was ranked 37th.
In 2017, NC was ranked 40th.
This is a disturbing trend to say the least especially when Hui quotes Sterling Lloyd of Education Week as saying, “School finance is really the area where North Carolina struggles. It’s 45th in the nation for its school finance grade.”
45th. In financing schools.
That’s 45th in funding of schools.
The most egregious parts of Hui’s report came when both Mark Johnson and Dr. Terry Stoops were asked for comments.
“Since I began my campaign for this office, I have consistently said that great work is occurring in our schools, led by hard-working teachers and local school leaders, but also that our state needs to approach education with more urgency and innovation,” state Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson, a Republican elected in 2016, said in a written statement.
“I’ll always put much more stock in my conversations with educators, parents, and students than some national magazine’s idea of quality. That being said, I have never shied away from pointing out stubborn concerns caused by the status quo while we work to implement innovations that will transform incremental progress into real success for all educators and students.”
That’s not a rebuttal. That’s a non-answer. A year into his tenure, the only innovation Johnson has shown is how to get into a costly court case with his own state board over control of the public school system. Furthermore, he is the status quo for North Carolina as he a proponent of “school choice,” vouchers, charter schools, and lower per pupil expenditures that have been championed by the NC General Assembly since it was taken over by the GOP in 2010.
And by all appearances, that “national magazine” seems to know more about education than Johnson does when you consider his limited experience.
From Dr. Stoops:
Terry Stoops, vice president of research for the conservative John Locke Foundation, focused on how the report didn’t include the latest school funding data.
“The data used for the report are from 2015, so it does not include recent efforts by the North Carolina General Assembly to raise teacher compensation and support programs designed to raise student achievement,” he said. “I suspect that these changes will improve our grade in future editions of Quality Counts.”
What Dr. Stoops decided not to mention here is that many of the initiatives that the North Carolina General Assembly placed on public education actually happened before 2015 such as:
- adjustment of average teacher pay (remember in 2014, it was “historic”)
- removal of teacher due-process rights for new hires
- removal of graduate pay bumps for new hires
- Standard 6
- push for merit pay
- revolving door of standardized tests
- attacks on advocacy groups
- removal of class size caps
- unregulated charter school growth
- school performance grades
- eliminating Teaching Fellows
All of those had something to do with NC’s fall in the rankings from above average (19th) to the bottom tier (40th). Dr. Stoops’s comment is weak and baseless at best.
Hui also references Kris Nordstrom’s report “The Unraveling” . That is more than worth the read. It is a very concise explanation of what the very NCGA that Dr. Stoops’s defends actually has done to make NC rank so low.
From 2011 to 2017, NC has fallen 21 spaces in the rankings.
The GOP has controlled the General Assembly since 2010.
Maybe it might be good for our rankings if that control ended in 2018.