1. Opportunity Grants (Vouchers) –
There has never been any empirical evidence that the vouchers actually work. Maybe voucher proponents would like to point to NC State’s study last year, but that study ultimately did not make conclusions on the veracity of the vouchers. In fact, it said that the Opportunity Grants need much more research as it is hard to assess the program.
Or they might point to “satisfaction surveys” like Joel Ford of PEFNC did in an op-ed on EdNC.org. If that is the only variable by which they can measure the effectiveness of the grants, then that is absolutely weak.
And it has been shown that Opportunity Grants have heavily been used in nontransparent religious private schools. Furthermore, not even half of the funds for the vouchers have been awarded, yet the NCGA keeps putting more money into this reform.
In the 2017-18 school year, 7001 students attended 405 private schools at a cost of $20.3 million. The largest cohort of Opportunity Scholarship recipients attended a single religious school in Fayetteville, with those 201 students making up more than half of its student population. The largest dollar amount, $451,442, went to Liberty Christian Academy in Richlands, NC where 122 of the 145 students are voucher recipients. The 2018-2019 Budget Adjustments bill increased funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program from $45 to $55 million.
2. Innovative School District –
North Carolina’s ISD is run by an out-of-state for-profit charter chain. To date it has only school and it just got its third superintendent and its second principal – after only one full year in operation.
It is not a success by any stretch of the imagination.
Here is the most recent growth rates and grades for subsets for that ISD school.
Southside Ashpole Elementary:
- 4 – F’s
- Everything else is an “I” which stands for “Insufficient Data.”
- 1 – Not Met’s
- 2 – Met
The current ISD here in NC has been in existence for over three years. It has not worked.
3. Charter School Cap Removed –
This past January, Kris Nordstrom published an article that openly showed this data.
The cap was removed beginning in 2012-2013.
And there is substantial evidence that charter schools are more segregated than traditional public schools.
The Excel spreadsheet in the previous post lined to above is a list of every charter school that exists now in this state that had a school performance grade attached to it for the 2018-2019 school year. It is cross-referenced to the last full school report card it has on record from the 2017-2018 school year.
According to that data table in that post which includes 173 charter schools,
- 81 of them had a student population that was at least 65% white.
- 40 of them had a student population that was at least 80% white.
- 100 of them had at least 50% of the students classified as white.
- 31 of them had a student population that was at least 65% black.
- 17 of them had a student population that was at least 80% black.
- 43 of them had at least 50% of the students classified as black.
To put in perspective, that means:
- Over 110 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 65% one race/ethnic group.
- 150 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 50% one race/ethnic group.
- Over 50 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 80% one race/ethnic group.
- 132 of the 173 schools listed had a 2017-2018 student population that was lower than 40% Economically Disadvantaged.
4. School Performance Grades –
NC is the only state that puts more emphasis on proficiency than growth and counts proficiency for 80% for a school performance grade. NC weighs proficiency at least 30% more than the next ranking state.
And North Carolina’s school performance grades are a confirmation that student poverty levels have so much to do with how schools perform.
5. Virtual Charter Schools –
There are two virtual charter schools that have not very well in the past, but were renewed by the state for another four years and championed by Mark Johnson.
Here are their grades and growth by subset groups.
NC Virtual Academy:
1 – F
6 – D’s
5 – Not Met’s
NC Cyber Academy:
4 – F’s
4 – D’s
6 – Not Met’s
6. Read to Achieve –
Since it’s inception as a copy of a failed Jeb Bush initiative, Read to Acheive has not worked. In fact, it has had the opposite effect.
Oh, and that whole iStation debacle? It pertains to Red to Achieve.
7. Educational Savings Accounts –
Like many other endeavors in the reform minded views of lawmakers, the NC ESA is highly unregulated. It is crafted much like Arizona’s program and that one has been highly abused because it is not regulated. Instances of using funds for non-educational purchases were not uncommon.
Also, if you look at the requirements, using the ESA “releases the school district from all obligations to educate the student.” That can be interpreted in a few different ways, but ultimately it absolves the school system from being responsible for the services it would have already provided if the ESA was not used. An IEP would cover it, if that IEP was constructed so.
Furthermore, it would seem like taking money away from other students in a state where per-pupil expenditure still rates in the bottom rungs in the country.
8. SB599 and Other Teacher Recruitment Initiatives –
Whatever or whoever could have put North Carolina in a situation that would create a teacher shortage in our public schools?
The answer is easy: the GOP majority in the North Carolina General Assembly.
The shortage of teacher candidates that schools of education have experienced is a symptom of a deeper problem. A bill like SB599 is a thinly veiled attempt to further allow for-profit companies like Texas Teachers of Tomorrow to take North Carolina tax money and place pseudo-qualified candidates into our classrooms.
Another jab at de-professionalizing a profession that the GOP majority in the NCGA has already de-professionalized to a large extent.
And now we have TeachNC.
9. Bonus Pay –
At one time, I wrote Sen. Phil Berger about why bonus pay does not work and I had received a bonus because of how my students performed on AP tests. I listed the following ten reasons:
- I do not need a carrot stick. If getting a bonus to get students to perform better really works, then this should have been done a long time ago. It’s funny to think of rewarding me for my students working harder and not other teachers who do absolute wonders in the classroom that do not get measured.
- This creates an atmosphere of competition. I did not get into teaching so that I could compete with my fellow teachers and see who makes more money, but rather collaborate with them.
- I did not take those tests. The students took the tests. Students need to be able to harness their own motivation and hopefully I can couple it with my motivation. Yet many of these students are taking eight classes, participating in extracurricular activities, and helping families. Plus, with all of the testing that we put on students that takes away from actual instructional time is staggering. Sometimes, I am amazed at what our students actually accomplish in light of the gravity they are placed under.
- I was not the only person who taught them. To say that the success of my students on the AP English Language and Composition Test solely rested on my performance is ludicrous. While the cliché’ “It takes a village” might be overused, I do believe that the entire school’s faculty and staff has something to do with not only my students’ success, but my own.
- Bonus pay does not work. It’s like merit pay. There is really no evidence that it helps public schools. Remember the ABC’s from the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s? Yep, I do too. So should Sen. Berger.
- The state does not have a reputation of fully funding their initiatives. Again, remember the ABC’s? I still do. Those bonuses dried up because they were not fully funded. And after the bonuses are taken away in the future (which they probably will), will the expectations of student performance be lessened? History says that it will not.
- My class is not more important as others. They all matter.
- This sets a dangerous precedent in measuring students and teachers. Effective public schools are collaborative communities, not buildings full of contractors who are determined to outperform others for the sake of money. And when teachers are forced to focus on the results of test scores, teaching ceases from being a dynamic relationship between student and teacher, but becomes a transaction driven by a carrot on an extended stick.
- This is a reward, but far from showing respect. Many teachers got a raise in the past four years, but again that is an “average” raise. Bonuses in this case seem more like “hush money” and a means to brag that lawmakers seem to care about teacher compensation. But if Berger really respected teachers, he would do more for them than give “bonuses” to a few of them. He would reward them with salaries comparable with the rest of the nation. He would restore due-process rights for new teachers, he would give back graduate degree pay, he would stop measuring schools with a defeatist model, and he would restore longevity pay.
- It’s pure grandstanding. There is uncontrolled charter school growth. There are loosened sanctions on for-profit virtual schools. There are massive amount of money going to Opportunity Grants which will no doubt fill the coffers of schools that do not even teach the same curriculum as those teachers you want to “reward” with these bonuses. There is a lawsuit between our puppet state superintendent and the state school board Berger helped appoint, and an ISD district still out there. There is the lowered per pupil expenditure. All of this affects the very schools that Berger thinks a bonus will help to hide.
Of course Berger did not respond.
10. Adjusted Teacher Pay Schedule-
Below is the salary schedule for a teacher in North Carolina for the 2018-2019 school year. With the current stalemate in budget negotiations, it will be the salary schedule for the 2019-2020 school year.
Any teacher new to the profession in the last four years would never be on the second schedule because newer teachers are not allowed a pay bump for graduate degrees. Notice how the salaries also plateau after year 15.
There is no longevity pay included as it does not exist for teachers any longer.
And remember that the average pay that people like Mark Johnson, Phil Berger, and Tim Moore like to brag about includes local supplements that the state is not responsible for.
Now go back ten years.
Ten years ago each salary step would have had an increase in pay.
All teachers, new and veteran, would have had graduate degree pay ten years ago.
All veteran teachers would have received longevity pay ten years ago above and beyond what the salary schedule said.