Before a Policy Maker Claims That “We Will Have To Raise Taxes On People To ‘Fully’ Fund NC Schools,” Tell Him To Consider These Measures First

  1. Stop extending massive tax cuts to corporations and wealthy people. Maybe we as a state should not keep extending more corporate tax cuts for businesses and people who make significantly more than the average North Carolinian. We haven’t really seen the trickle-down effect from that here in our schools.
  2. Do away with the Opportunity Grants. We should not invest almost a billion dollars’ worth into a voucher scheme over a ten-year period when it has not shown any real success and put that back into the public schools. No study has conclusively said that vouchers actually improve public educational outcomes because of “competition.”
  3. Stop testing so damn much. When we measure student achievement through test scores and not through growth, we become addicted to “testing” and “teaching toward a test.” Buying tests and then allowing others to grade them for a premium and then disseminate information for the state costs money, not to mention that amount of time (which is a valuable and costly resource) that is consumed.
  4. And if we do give tests, then let our own people create and grade them. Why go to so many private companies to get tests and then pay them to grade them without any feedback? This state has an incredible university system with schools of education that can create earmark assessments and we can pay teachers to grade them. The money would stay in the system.
  5. Highly regulate the ESA’s and allow them to be spent on public schools as well. How about taking some of the money earmarked for Special Needs Education Savings Accounts (which might be one of the most unregulated versions in the country – just look at Arizona) and allowing parents to invest it back into services for their children in public schools?
  6. Not extend so much money into new unregulated charter schools. No report on the state level has shown they are working in the way that charter schools were intended to work: to be laboratories for public schools to find new ways of teaching and bring back to traditional schools to help all students. Instead many are run by private entities.
  7. Dissolve the Innovative School District. There is not community buy-in and all models of such “reforms” have proven to not help. Furthermore, it is giving money to a private entity.
  8. Repeal HB514. Bill Brawley’s bill is nothing more than legalized segregation and allows for municipalities to ask for county property taxes to create charter schools that only service certain zip codes. In essence it allows for more property taxes to be used to fund local schools and possibly state mandates.
  9. Put ballot measures for school bonds on the ballot. Let the voters actually decide, especially after two very destructive hurricanes destroyed so much in the eastern part of our state.
  10. Pass the budget in a democratic process. No more “nuclear options” to pass a state budget. Let the democratic process have its say. That means debate and amendments.
  11. Consider who has been beaten in the last elections who also championed bad budgeting policies. Just ask Tarte, Nelson, Malone, Stone, Brawley, and Bradford how their recent elections went.  The people spoke.

Then we can start talking about “raising taxes.”

Besides, out kids are worth it.

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One thought on “Before a Policy Maker Claims That “We Will Have To Raise Taxes On People To ‘Fully’ Fund NC Schools,” Tell Him To Consider These Measures First

  1. In response to point 4. above:

    Why Do We Not Allow Teachers to Give and Grade Their Own End-of-Grade and End-of-Course Tests
    Allen Daniel

    When I was at West Forsyth in 1970, I took French I. We all knew the teacher was not a very good teacher; it was obvious. Most of the class got A’s on their report cards; notice I didn’t say earned A’s. I learned everything I could to prepare myself for French II and the language requirements of college. I had A’s all four quarters. In French II, under the same teacher, I studied and got all A’s again.
    When I arrived at East Carolina in the fall of 1973, I took my placement tests. As a math major, I placed out of English, receiving a five-hour A, by scoring well on the placement test. We were required to read and interpret a fairly lengthy poem.

    In math, I earned a C on the math placement. I could have accepted that 5-hour C, but my advisor recommended taking the course. He said if I scored a C on the placement test, I could easily earn an A taking the course. He was correct. I finished with a 97 in the course.

    When I took the foreign language placement test, against everyone’s advice, I guessed on the ones I was not sure of. I had always tried to earn the highest score possible. I did not realize what I had set myself up for. I placed into French II. The first day, the professor told us that the first three weeks should be pretty much review, then we would launch into new material. By day three, I was lost. I told her so. She asked how much French I had had in high school. I told her two years. She asked what grades I earned. I told her straight A’s. She asked the material we covered. I told her that she had covered material in the first three days that I had not been taught. Basically, we covered the extent of my French in day one. I told her that I realized I had made a mistake by guessing on the placement test and should be taking French I. The problem was that, since I placed into French II, I could not take French I for credit. I found a French I course available when I did not have a class scheduled and audited that course. I also hired a tutor. So, I was in French ten hours a week, tutoring an hour a week and going to the language lab several afternoons a week. I earned the first D I ever made in a course. I am not really sure I earned that D. I think she might have inflated my grade a bit due to the fact that she knew I was on an academic scholarship and I was putting in the effort to learn.

    Fast forward to my own teaching career, which began in 2016. As a high school math teacher, I had two co-teachers. One allowed students to see the key during testing. How do I know? We divided the class and the co-teacher took half to another room. If I had not completed the key, that co-teacher would complete one while the students tested. I gave an A test and a B test to cut down on cheating. The students in that co-teacher’s group would average 95. The students in my group would average 65. In analyzing the tests to see how that happened, I noticed great similarities in the answers from that co-teacher’s group. Of course, I was grading from my key. After one test, I asked if I could use that co-teacher’s key to grade. All the answers from that co-teacher’s group looked very much like the key, including the ones that co-teacher had made mistakes on and got the wrong answer. When I tried to give the first two problems from the test for the warm-up the next day, that co-teacher insisted on taking the same group out to another class to do the warm-up.

    Another co-teacher offered to grade a quiz on radicals where the students had to use prime factorization. I thanked that co-teacher and gave that co-teacher my answers, but not my work. I told that co-teacher to just put a check beside the ones the students showed work on and got my answer. I gave partial credit, so I told that co-teacher I would go back and do that. One student turned in the quiz with about five problems left blank. How did I know? Because I never let students put their test in a basket. I made them hand them directly to me. I would check to make sure their name and the period were on their test and their workpapers, made sure they completed the test, and stapled everything together. If they left any problems blank, I refused to accept the test if there was time left. This student said they did not know how to even start the problems left blank. I told them to return to their desk and think about them. Maybe the answer would come and they would get a higher score. At the end of the period, the student turned in the test with those problems still blank.

    When the co-teacher returned the quizzes for me to apply partial credit, I finished and went back and added the points from each page and entered the score on page one. I really never knew whose test I was grading after I finished page one. I would grade all the page ones, all the page twos, etc., then record the total. When I went to record this student’s score, it was about thirty points higher that their consistent average; upper 70’s, rather than less than 50.

    We had had a parent conference for that student earlier in the week during which the mom expressed concern that failing my course would prevent the student from participating in athletics. The student had accommodations, all of which were being followed. The principal asked if we could not do grade concessions. He was informed by someone from the EC program that there was no such thing. The student’s mom said she would make sure the student was studying in preparation for tests. I told her I gave a quiz one Friday and a test the next, so there was always an assessment on Friday, and only Friday. I was impressed that the student had made such an improvement.

    But as I looked over the student’s quiz, I realized that the five problems that had been left blank had been completed. I also noticed that the work did not use the methodology I had taught, but the methodology the co-teacher taught. I asked the co-teacher about it and the co-teacher admitted to “helping” the student.
    I asked the student about the ones left blank that were now complete. The student had no response. I told the student I would be subtracting those points and would enter the actual grade in PowerSchool. I subtracted the points for those five, resulting in a grade in the low 60’s, still far above average for that student. After I entered the grades, I got a call from the student’s mom wanting to know how the student had come home telling her they scored in the high 70’s, yet PowerSchool showed almost twenty points less. I told her I subtracted the points for the problems the student left blank that the co-teacher completed while grading. All she said was “Oh, OK.”

    It was my practice to use “quiz replacement” as a means of standards-based grading. I learned the practice from my mentor. I would give a quiz one Friday on the material covered that week. Quizzes were typically one page, front and back. The following Friday, I would give a test covering the two weeks. Tests were two pages, front and back. The first page was a repeat of the material covered on the quiz. The second page was the new material. If a student scored better on page one than they did on the quiz, I replaced the quiz grade with the grade from page one.

    The student who had received help on the quiz scored in the low 40’s on page one of the test the following week.

    I informed my mentor. He was aware of that having happened with that co-teacher in the past. His advice was to copy all my tests before allowing that co-teacher to grade them. I asked if he had informed the principal. He said, yes, the principal had been made aware. I went to the department chair. He was also aware of the problem and advised to only allow that co-teacher to grade multiple-choice problems. I showed him where three of the multiple-choice answers had been changed. I had no idea if the student or the co-teacher had changed them.

    I informed the principal in an email. Later, I found that a long-term math sub had brought the same problem to the attention of the principal in person, with another teacher as a witness.

    I informed HR. I informed Accountability. To my knowledge, that co-teacher is still employed at same school. The first moved to another district, but is still teaching.

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