Don’t Think Mark Johnson Is Running For State Super

With the buzz that Rep. Craig Horn may enter the race for state superintendent, there has been more speculation as to whether Mark Johnson will run for reelection.

Today on EdNC.org, Alex Granados published a piece exploring who possibly will be running from the Republican Party.

Both Craig Horn and Catherine Truitt have stated they would be willing to run for the office if Mark Johnson decided not to.  Yet, Johnson has not showed his cards. He has less than two months to officially declare. And his noncommittal attitude actually speaks volumes.

Granados reports,

“Mark Johnson will be a candidate for public office in 2020 and we will make a more specific announcement about that at an appropriate time,” Jonathan Felts, spokesman for Mark Johnson, said in an email. “A number of potential candidates have contacted both of us expressing interest in the Superintendent’s seat if Mark Johnson does not seek reelection and I feel confident there will be a strong Republican nominee for Superintendent whether it is Mark Johnson or someone else.”

Who the hell says this? Someone who is not running for state superintendent.

The man who so “boldly gave” us the #NC2030 initiative and it’s eleven year wingspan won’t tell us in #NC2019 if he will try and be there for #NC2020 to get it started. That means that he should have never been elected in #NC2016.

Not one time has he ever said he was planning stick around. Not even when directly asked. And his track record as a teacher and local school board member show that he has already been around too long as the state super.

Felts’s statement above is indicative of the man who tells his girlfriend that he can’t really commit to her but asks her to stay loyal to him. In front of her parents.

What if I was asked by my students if I was coming back to the school the next year and gave them answer akin to what Felts? Imagine what the students would think.

But he is running. For something.

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A $125,000 says so.

 

Really, It’s Just The NCGA’s Spite Against Public School Teachers Who Want More For Public Schools

From WRAL on October 23rd:

Teachers hoping to finally see a salary increase this year will have to wait a while longer.

That was the word from Senate Republican leaders Wednesday as they rolled out two “mini-budgets” providing funding for other increases in education and retiree compensation.

House Bill 377 provides money for scheduled “step” increases for teachers, assistant principals and instructional support personnel. Those increases are based on years of experience in North Carolina’s schools, and some, but not all teachers, are eligible for them. It also includes money to pay for principals’ salary increases and bonuses if their school was in the top 50 percent in the state for educational growth.

The bill does not include across-the-board pay raises for teachers. When Democrats on the the Senate Appropriations committee asked why not, Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, the bill’s sponsor, said there had been no discussions on that topic with Gov. Roy Cooper.

That very same day according to NC Policy Watch:

N.C. Senate finance leaders are moving a tax cut bill for businesses with high net worth this week, even as the legislature has failed to put forward a comprehensive investment plan addressing the priorities of communities across the state.

That’s right. There is no final, comprehensive budget for our communities, but legislative leaders in the Senate will still give tax breaks to big companies.

Senate Bill 578 will adopt the franchise tax cuts proposed in the legislative budget at a time when corporations across North Carolina are paying the lowest corporate income tax rate applied to their profits in any state that taxes corporate income.

As the Budget & Tax Center detailed in an earlier analysis, this is not a tax cut that will reach the majority of businesses in North Carolina, and like corporate income tax cuts before it, it is unlikely to change the decisions of businesses around hiring or location.

The NCGA is intentionally not giving teachers raises because they are too busy giving more tax cuts to corporations that already are successful in a state that has the lowest corporate tax rate in the nation.

All while holding up budget talks.

Sen. Jerry Tillman said in the WRAL article,

Sen. Jerry Tillman. R-Randolph, said Cooper’s push for bigger teacher raises and a Medicaid expansion is unrealistic.

“Ask him to show where we’re going to be able to afford Medicaid expansion and teacher pay raises of 8.5 percent. There’s not enough money in this state unless you take it out of the taxpayer’s pocket,” Tillman said.

Yes, there is.

Maybe he and his cronies can stop giving more and more tax cuts to corporations and stop treating public schools and their teachers and staff with spite and ignorance.

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Again, Devaluing Veteran Teachers – Looking at the Proposed NCGA Senate Salary “Step Increase” for 2019-2020

Want to see how this NCGA values its teachers, especially its veterans?

Below is the proposed salary schedule released last June 2019-2020. Since it is part of the vetoed budget that Phil Berger and Tim Moore have never compromised upon, it is not in effect.

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But what if it did.

For the first 15 years of a career in NC, a teacher will receive a 1,000 raise for each year. It will go from $35,000 to $50,000.

In Years 16-20, a teacher will make $50,500 – each year. No raises within that time. And a $500 raise overall compared to Year 15.

In Years 21-24, a teacher will make $51,500 – each year. No raises within that time. That’s a $1,500 raise compared to Year 15 and a $1,000 raise compared to Year 20.

In Years 25+, a teacher will make $52,600 – for the rest of his/her career.

Granted, that schedule may change in the next year or years, but it proves one thing: this NCGA does not value veteran teachers.

Look at that proposed salary schedule above just based on raises.

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And just today, October 23, the NCGA Senate endorsed a bill to allow only for step increases to take effect from the 2018-2019 salary schedule.

Not even up to the salary schedule that was proposed by the same body four months ago.

Now consider there is no longer longevity pay and that all teachers now coming into the profession in NC will be on an “A” certificate because of the removal of graduate pay.

And the consider this.

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This NCGA continues to throw mud in the faces of veteran teachers.

Students Are So Much Than Test Scores: How NC “Measures” Students VS. How Colleges Measure Them

This is what UNC-Chapel Hill looks for in a potential “college-ready” student.

There’s no specific set of qualities or accomplishments we’re looking for. Instead, we look for evidence that you are the type of person who sees opportunity in every challenge, who likes to tackle problems, and who will encourage classmates to greatness.

We don’t use formulas or cutoffs or thresholds; no one is automatically admitted or denied because of a single number. We read every application, thoroughly.

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Not just test scores.

CollegeChoice.net lists the following on the website as the top criteria for college admission.

  • High School GPA and Class Rank
  • AP and Honors Classes
  • Challenging Extracurricular Activities
  • Volunteer and Work Experience
  • Test Scores 
  • Quality Recommendation Letters
  • A Well-Written Essay
  • Talents and Passions

And under the “Test Scores” heading, it says this:

“Not all schools rely as heavily on SAT and ACT scores as they used to, but it doesn’t hurt to take both tests and do as well as you can. Some schools don’t look at these tests at all while others may look at scores from additional tests including SAT Subject Tests and AP tests. Check with your chosen schools to find out which ones are required for admission.”

But consider what the state of North Carolina considers when trying to classify a student as “career and college ready” – test scores.

And look how schools are measured in our state’s performance grading system – test scores and algorithms.

 

 

 

Malcolm’s Minions – A Chance to be Ultra-Cool For a Day

This Saturday, Oct. 26th, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Winston-Salem will be hosting its annual Buddy Walk.

For those who are not familiar with the Buddy Walk, here is the blurb from the DSAGWS.org website:

The Buddy Walk® was created by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) in 1995 to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote awareness, acceptance and inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome.

It also raises funds for the DSAGWS to help with programs and services for families who have members with special needs.

This year’s Buddy Walk will again be held at West Forsyth High School where it has been held for the last seven years.

If you want to have a great time for a great cause then come on out. And even if you can’t make it to hang out with the cutest red-head with blue eyes who just happens to be genetically enhanced, then you can still help by sponsoring.

Malcolm’s team is called Malcolm’s Minions. The link is https://dsagws.ezeventsolutions.com/Buddywalk/MalcolmsMinions.

Thanks for considering.

And if you need a little more motivation, then:

 

If you do come Saturday, Malcolm will be glad to show you around West Forsyth High School. It’s his second home.

 

Have You Heard About Elizabeth Warren’s Plan For Public Education?

From elizabethwarren.com:

As public school teachers across the country know, our schools do not have the financial resources they need to deliver a quality public education for every child.That’s why my plan invests hundreds of billions of dollars in our public schools – paid for by a two-cent wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million – and makes a series of legislative and administrative changes to achieve five objectives: 

  • Fund schools adequately and equitably so that all students have access to a great public education.

  • Renew the fight against segregation and discrimination in our schools.

  • Provide a warm, safe, and nurturing school climate for all our kids.

  • Treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are.

  • Stop the privatization and corruption of our public education system.

 

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This is the first plan given by a front-runner in the Democratic field of presedential candidates.

And it says a lot about the continuing trend against what many call the privatization efforts of education reformers.

She goes right after Betsy DeVos:

“We can do so much better for our students, our teachers, and our communities. I’ll start – as I promised in May – by replacing DeVos with a Secretary of Education who has been a public school teacher, believes in public education, and will listen to our public school teachers, parents, and students.”

She addresses Title I funds.

“It starts by quadrupling Title I funding – an additional $450 billion over the next 10 years – to help ensure that all children get a high-quality public education.”

She addresses the Individuals With Disablaities Education Act:

“I’ll make good on the federal government’s original 40% funding promise by committing an additional $20 billion a year to IDEA grants. I will also expand IDEA funding for 3-5 year olds and for early intervention services for toddlers and infants.”

She addresses infrastructure:

“I’ll invest at least an additional $50 billion in school infrastructure across the country – targeted at the schools that need it most – on top of existing funding for school upgrades and improvements in my other plans.”

She addresses testing:

“The push toward high-stakes standardized testing has hurt both students and teachers. Schools have eliminated critical courses that are not subject to federally mandated testing, like social studies and the arts. They can exclude students who don’t perform well on tests. Teachers feel pressured to teach to the test, rather than ensuring that students have a rich learning experience. I oppose high-stakes testing, and I co-sponsored successful legislation in Congress to eliminate unnecessary and low-quality standardized tests. As president, I’ll push to prohibit the use of standardized testing as a primary or significant factor in closing a school, firing a teacher, or making any other high-stakes decisions, and encourage schools to use authentic assessments that allow students to demonstrate learning in multiple ways.”

She addresses charter schools:

“To keep our traditional public school systems strong, we must resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools. Efforts to expand the footprint of charter schools, often without even ensuring that charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and safeguards as traditional public schools, strain the resources of school districts and leave students behind, primarily students of color. Further, inadequate funding and a growing education technology industry have opened the door to the privatization and corruption of our traditional public schools. More than half of the states allow public schools to be run by for-profit companies, and corporations are leveraging their market power and schools’ desire to keep pace with rapidly changing technology to extract profits at the expense of vulnerable students. “

She addresses vouchers:

“We have a responsibility to provide great neighborhood schools for every student. We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits – which are vouchers by another name. We should fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools. I did that when I opposed a ballot question in Massachusetts to raise the cap on the number of charter schools, even as dark money groups spent millions in support of the measure. “

What Warren is doing is defining the variables and issues that will be at the center of the public education debate in the coming presidential election: funding, testing, charters, vouchers, segregation, and strong community schools.

 

 

 

 

 

Sen. Deanna Ballard Says That “School Choice Segregation Is a ‘Lie'” – Well…

Much talk of late has been focused on North Carolina’s charter schools and the overall effect they have on the resegregation of student populations within the state.

In a recent EdNC.org op-ed, Rhonda Dillingham, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools, defended North Carolina’s charter schools from criticism concerning perpetuating segregation.

She said,

“Since then (1996), charter schools, which will always be free and open to all, have offered exceptional student learning environments and created opportunities for all students nationwide — and especially in North Carolina. The facts speak for themselves; in three key metrics — student-family wellbeing, academic performance, and diversity — charter schools are a beacon.”

The data presented in this post say otherwise. Dillingham has yet to respond or refute.

In a recent article by Center Point, Sen. Deanna Ballard made the same assertion.

Ballard said the racism claims are the critics “last hope for killing school choice,” but she thinks it is a shot in the dark. 

Enrollment numbers in North Carolina paint a different picture from the “white flight” that Mangrum described, according to Ballard.

About 20 percent of school-aged children do not attend traditional public schools, according to state numbers. The charter schools have a higher percentage of African-American students than public schools do. 

The Center Square confirmed that 26.1 percent of charter school students in North Carolina are African-American, and African-American students make up 25.1 percent of the public school population. 

Let it be known that the Center Point is a publication put out by the Franklin Press, a right-wing conservative outlet based in the Midwest. From PR Watch:

An effort to replace local journalism with right-wing reporting has put on a new mask this month. The Center Square is posing as a beacon of the “highest journalistic ethics,” but in reality, it is a rebranding of an outlet deemed “highly ideological” and criticized for “occasional…gross distortions” of the facts.

The Center Square website purports to be “a non-profit, non-partisan, non-political, no-nonsense organization.” But its “About Us” page does not disclose that it is the latest incarnation of the Franklin Center, a media site specifically funded to have a “valuable” role as part of Wisconsin’s “conservative infrastructure.”

So, let’s revisit that 26.1 percent versus 25.1 calculation that Ballard and Center Point claim proves the diversity of North Carolina’s charter schools.

Imagine if I were to tell you that inside a banquet room you are about to enter there were 100 people; 50 were white and 50 were African-American. According to Ballard and Center Point, that would constitute perfect diversity – 50/50.  However, when you walked inside, all of the white people were seated at tables at one end of the room and the African-American attendees were all seated at tables on the other side of the room.

Would you call that “diversity?”

What Ballard is hoping is that you don’t pay attention to how the attendees are (or are not) seated.

Sen. Ballard represents parts of five counties in northwestern NC: Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, and Wilkes. Those counties house three of the over 170 charter schools in the state. Those charter schools are Bridges Academy in Wilkes County, Milennium Charter Academy in Surry County, and Two Rivers Community School in Watauga County.

Maybe it would be a good idea to see how the student makeup of each of these charter schools compares to nearby public schools. In this post, the site SchoolDigger.com was used. Each charter school in Ballard’s district was entered into the same search fields.

Here is what was found.

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Millenium Charter: 15.7 free and reduced lunch. Take a look at the table above of the nearest high schools – particularly Mount Airy High School which is the closest one.

Compare the percentages of student makeup.

Here’s Two Bridges compared to other close elementary schools. Again, take a look at the percentages of Free/Discounted Lunch Recipients and race makeups.

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Here’s Bridges Academy.

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Of the three above, two are starkly different in student makeup than other nearby schools. Only Bridges Academy seems to have the same student makeup as nearby schools. But would that have anything to do with the lack of diversity in Wilkes County? Possibly.

But two of three school in her district portray a vastly different image than the one she proffers in her words within the Center Point article.

Actually, those two schools prove her words wrong.

 

 

100 Days And Over 4 Million Dollars

Every day that the NCGA stays in session costs the state at least $42,000. That may be a conservative estimate as mileage and staffing could be altered to accommodate what is done in parts of the session.

It’s been over 100 days since Berger and Moore started stalemating budget compromise.

A full school year is usually 180 days.

100 days

Simple math puts the price tag to not negotiate at well over 4 million dollars.

Do you know how many teachers could have been funded? Reading specialists? Teacher assistants? Lunches for students who have a cafeteria debt? Bus repairs? Textbooks?

How many school nurses could have been hired around the state? Social workers?

How many school employees could have had their wages come up to at least 15$/hour?

iPads? (Just kidding – MJ seems to already have a special fund for that).

And to think that the same people who are keeping the NCGA in session to keep a budget from being passed are the same ones who pushed for a required personal finance class in our public high schools.

 

 

 

If NC Wants To Recruit Great Teachers, Then…

In North Carolina, we are not just losing teachers.

We are not even getting teachers to lose. Just look at the decline of teacher candidates in our schools of education.

From Fortune in the December 28th, 2018 report “America Is Losing Its Teachers at a Record Rate”:

Frustrated by little pay and better opportunities elsewhere, public school teachers and education employees in the United States are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record.

During the first 10 months of the year, public educators, including teachers, community college faculty members, and school psychologists, quit their positions at a rate of 83 per 10,000, Labor Department figures obtained by The Wall Street Journal show. That’s the highest rate since the government started collecting the data in 2001. It’s also nearly double the 48 per 10,000 educators who quit their positions in 2009, the year with the lowest number of departures.

According to the report, teachers are leaving for a variety of reasons. Unemployment is low, which means there are other, potentially more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. Better pay, coupled with tight budgets and, in some cases, little support from communities could also push educators to other positions.

So, what is North Carolina doing about it?

Things like this:

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And this (SB599):

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And this:

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Rather than restoring graduate degree pay and due-process for new teachers, expanding the Teaching Fellow program, and pretty much reversing all of the “reforms” enacted in the last eight years here in North Carolina, we are de-professionalizing what is arguable one of the most important jobs this state has: teaching.

Teacher recruitment through initiatives like the ones above are not working to build the teacher workforce that this state needs. What those initiatives are doing is helping create a public school system that will rely on a more temporary contractors void of extensive training and experience.

And our students, schools, community, and state will suffer from it.

 

 

10 Intentionally Cruel Ironies About Public Education in NC

  1. Mark Johnson literally sends out a statement about how he was going to “reduce” testing in a week where midterms and state exams (EOC’s and NC Finals) were being administered.
  2. Teachers fill out a working conditions survey every other year for the state that has no questions about how teachers feel the state handles public education.
  3. SAS releases EVAAS scores for a current class well after the school year has begun. In the case for high school block classes, these EVAAS scores come nearer to the end of the semester than at the beginning.
  4. Most of the exams for fall semesters take place after the winter break.
  5. The less experience one has in education magically makes that person more “appropriate” to be the state’s (or even the nation’s) highest public school official.
  6. Failed initiatives like NC’s virtual charter schools and the Read to Achieve program get added funding and more support when data shows they are failing miserably.
  7. The state spends money to hire a team to audit DPI to identify where money is being wasted and that team concludes that DPI is not spending enough.
  8. Leaders in the NCGA boasted an average teacher salary of over $53,000 in 2018-2019 when they released a salary schedule could never sustain that average.
  9. The School Performance Grading system does a better job of showing how poverty affects student achievement than it does showing how teachers help students grow.
  10. North Carolina has more NBCT’s than any other state, has arguably one of the better public university systems in the nation, and has a plethora of quality private institutions that offer teacher training, but the state has a manufactured teacher shortage.

If you can think of others, then please put in the comments section.

 

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