Catherine Truitt Is Running For State Superintendent. You Might Want See What She Has Claimed In 2016 About Public Education Here In NC.

Truitt is a former teacher, turnaround coach, associate vice president of University and P-12 Partnerships at UNC General Administration, and former senior education advisor to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. (From an EdNC.org report entitled “Will state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson run again?”)

Currently she is the chancellor of Western Governor’s University of North Carolina.

Catherine Truitt has a lot of background in NC education.

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And as the senior education advisor for McCrory, she penned an op-ed posted on EdNC.org on March 25, 2016 entitled “The truth on education spending.”

The claims she made about NC’s “commitment” to public education were slanted at best and received one of the first ever published posts on this blog when it started in March of 2016.

It deserves revisiting as my stance on what she claimed back then has not changed.




 

Dear Ms. Truitt,

I read with great interest and frustration your op-ed that appeared on March 25, 2016 on EdNC.org (“The truth on education spending”) .

While you state that you have been a senior education advisor for Gov. McCrory a “short time,” the arguments that you make to boost Gov. McCrory’s reputation as an advocate for public education have been long overused and are cursory at best. As a teacher in North Carolina for over the last almost 11 years (and 13 of my 18 years as a teacher), I can with certainty state that your arguments only highlight a faint bloom of success, but not the toxic soil that feeds it.

You make several “spun” assertions in your op-ed. Please allow me to respond in hopes that the positives you attempt to point out are actually the opposite and are actually real problems that the governor has helped foster.

  1. The state’s portion of budget to public education.

You state,

“The truth is, total K-12 funding has increased each year of Gov. McCrory’s administration and North Carolina now spends 57 percent of its state budget on education, far higher than the national state average of 46 percent.”

This is the same argument that Rep. Hardister made on Sept, 3rd, 2015 on his blog The Hardister Report (http://jonhardister.blogspot.com/2015/09/public-education-funding-whats-truth.html). He talked of three sources of financing for NC public education – federal, state, and local. You are right; 57 percent is far higher than the national average. But that’s because it is supposed to be. The state constitution declares it.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina’s publication the 2014 Local School Finance Study provides a great history of the state’s practice in funding public schooling which is rooted in the proclamation that all children in the state ages 6-21 are guaranteed a good public education. The rest of my explanation to him can be found at this link, http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Letter-to-Hardister.pdf.

However, I do want to point out that before we had a “Republican governor and a Republican-controlled legislature,” the state spent an even higher percentage on public education because THAT IS WHAT THE STATE CONSTITUTION DECLARED. As I stated to Rep. Hardister,

“…those percentages of spending are not a badge of honor that this General Assembly gets to wear; it was earned many decades ago. The fact that the percentage is getting lower actually is not a positive sign for this administration. It is a reflection that the NCGA’s level of commitment to public education is wavering. Since most of the state funding goes to salaries of certified and classified employees, the fact the percentage of funds from the state is not higher than it was in years past is indicative of the stagnated salaries NC gives to teachers and assistants. With the elimination of funds for professional development and talk of cutting numbers of teaching assistants, how can you brag about the level of money spent on public schooling?”

Also lost in this is the uneven fashion in which money from the state is actually dispersed to LEA’s on the county and city levels. One of the more cohesive explanations of North Carolina’s state funding practices is a publication by the Center for American Progress entitled “The Stealth Inequities of School Funding” produced in 2012. It summarizes our state’s practices in a fairly concise manner, especially on page 46.

  1. Teacher Salary.

The statement you make about teacher salary is the most recycled, spun statement used by West Jones Street concerning public education in the last three years. You state,

“Teacher salary raises enacted in 2014 reversed the pay freezes that were enacted under Gov. Beverly Perdue shortly after she took office in 2009. In fact, the 7 percent increase in average teacher salary between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years was the largest teacher pay raise in the entire nation.”

First, Gov. Perdue and the NCGA at that time (2009) froze salaries and salary schedules because of the GREAT RECESSION. I think almost every business (in every state) froze their salaries; many even lowered them. Less money in people’s pockets, less money in state coffers. I, for one, was grateful to still have a job during that time. But ironically, why didn’t the governor just reinstall the salary schedule that was in effect in 2008 when he came into office after Perdue if he helped to guide us out of the recession? I surely would be making a lot more than now.

Secondly, you use that magic word – “average.” When Brenda Berg, CEO of Best NC made that same claim as a positive for NC, I responded with an explanation that has been made many times by many people. I stated in an August, 2015 open letter printed on EdNC.org (“A teacher weighs in on the war on public education”),

“The operative word here is “average.” Beginning teachers saw an average pay hike of over ten percent, yet the more years a teacher had, the less of a “raise” was given. The result was an AVERAGE hike of 6.9 percent, but it was not an even distribution. In fact, some veterans saw a reduction in annual pay because much of the “raise” was funded with what used to be longevity pay. And as a teacher who has been in North Carolina for these past ten years, I can with certainty tell you that my salary has not increased by 6.9 percent.

Mr. Hogan’s (James Hogan) claim that there was only an average salary increase of $270 comes when one takes the actual money allocated in the budget for the increase and dividing that evenly across the board.

That raise you refer to was funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay. Like an annual bonus, all state employees receive it—except, now, for teachers—as a reward for continued service. Yet the budget you mentioned simply rolled that longevity money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise. “

Your claim here, Ms. Truitt, is simply using that same “average bear” technique.

  1. Technology

You state that the governor is championing “transformational measures” to make NC’s schools the best in the nation. You state,

“For example, North Carolina is on track to be the first state in the country to connect every classroom to high speed wireless Internet. This development will enable a wide range of personalized learning applications for all North Carolina children and has the potential to transform the way students learn.”

Interestingly enough, when politicians talk of personalized learning through technology, this veteran teacher (and many others) hears that you want to make the learning experience more virtual than realistic, specifically through virtual charters and academies.

I do understand that many students have circumstances where technology can help alleviate problems and open avenues for learning. My own son, who happens to have Down Syndrome, is a very visual learner. Technology has been huge for him when it is facilitated by a professional educator. However, when you put in technology for technology’s sake (with an already biased “positive” view of for-profit virtual schools), then your claim seems more like a plug for buying more computers and software and divesting from the human capital that really drives the dynamic learning experience – the student/teacher relationship.

  1. Teacher / Student ratios

You state,

“The budget he signed provides funds to reduce class size in first grade to one teacher per 16 students by 2016-17. He also signed legislation that will dramatically increase access to summer reading camps to ensure every student achieves the needed literacy by third grade.”

Let me refer to the Allotment Policy Handbook FY 2013-14 on guidelines for maximum class size for all classes. There is a table from p.26 that gives some guide lines to students per classroom. However, local authorities can extend those class sizes if there is a need in their eyes. If you look on the very next page of the same handbook there is a reference to the use of provisions according to HB112.

That bill referred to, HB112, allowed the state to remove class size requirements while still allowing monies from the state to be allocated based on the previous table’s numbers. And that’s huge! I rarely have a class that is at or below 29 students. Some classes on my campus push upwards to 40 students.

Another detail to emphasize is the change that some districts have taken to move away from the 6/7 period day to block scheduling. Take my own district for example, the Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools. When I started ten years ago, I taught five classes with a cap of 30 students. With the block system in place, I now teach six classes in a school year with no cap. The math is simple: more students per teacher.

So, you claim that putting a cap on class size for one of the twelve grades is a positive? My own son’s class for developmentally delayed children has well over a dozen students in it. Would the governor help cap those classes as well to help in those situations? I will partially believe it when my son’s teacher sees it. I will fully believe it when all classes have caps.

            5. Opportunity Grants

You stated,

“In 2014, the governor increased choice for low income parents by enacting the Opportunity Scholarship that provides financial assistance for alternative schooling for students who are not succeeding in a traditional school setting.”

Allow me to use the explanation I offered in a recent Winston-Salem Journal op-ed I wrote in February (“Defending public education”) against the use of Opportunity Grants which at a maximum of $4800 does not even cover one semester in a competitive, private school that can reject any applicant without explanation. I stated,

“One can argue that the Opportunity Grants can help alleviate high tuition costs, but if the grants are targeted for lower income students, then how can those families even think about allotting their already limited funds for a private education, especially when NC has refused to expand Medicaid services for many who would qualify to obtain an Opportunity Grant? That’s not really giving families choices.

If you scroll down on the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority website for the Opportunity Scholarship and click on the link called “Current List of Nonpublic Schools”, you will find a list of schools participating in the grant program. Notice a vast majority of those schools have religious affiliations. Ironically, many of those schools are already supported by churches that do not have to pay taxes. And now those entities are getting more taxpayer money to support curricula and processes that are not even regulated like those of public schools?”

Furthermore, if you think that it is necessary for funds to be given to people to get them a good education, then why not invest that very money in the very public schools you are constitutionally supposed to support to help those very students succeed in their public schools?

            6. 21st Century Skills

You stated,

“Gov. McCrory recognizes the role the state’s community colleges play in giving North Carolina citizens the skills they need to prosper in a 21st century economy.”

First, it helps that we have a strong public school system that gives a strong foundation of learning and academic skills for those who enter the community college classrooms. But there has to be jobs for these citizens to use their skills.

Look at the list of businesses, companies, and corporations that have disavowed the governor’s signing of HB2, the most discriminatory piece of legislation in recent memory which ironically was signed merely hours before your op-ed was published on EdNC.org.

Too bad that the very citizens the governor is claiming to help train for the 21st century economy will not have companies that are willing to relocate and start here or even continue to do business with the state. That’s because 21st century economies do not work well with Jim Crow-style, bigoted climates that the governor promotes.

This is an election year, Ms. Truitt. Your boss is embarking on a re-election campaign that daily is coming under fire for his very lack of leadership. As teachers and voters, we need to be able to see substance to your arguments, not airy claims.

Just Look At Craig Horn’s Campaign Finances – He Should Never Become State Superintendent

One only has to look at the voting record, listen to comments made, and investigate who is financing his campaign to know that Craig Horn should never become the state superintendent of North Carolina’s public schools.

A Charlotte Observer article this morning outlined the top donors for all candidates in the state superintendents primaries this coming week. The information concerning Horn was quite interesting.

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Over 10K from SAS? The company that controls the secret algorithms of EVAAS and the company that drives our states school report card system?

UNC Board of Governors member? The same board that approved the Silent Sam deal and has eroded away the integrity of the state’s university system?

ART POPE? Just having that name associated with your campaign screams ALEC and Koch.

A simple investigation on Followthemoney.org gives insight into even more “investment” into Craig Horn’s campaigns – this one and past ones.

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The Goodnights have given money to Horn through many campaigns. But look at the other two: Jonathan Hage and John Bryan.

Those two men are big charter-school promoters. In fact, Bryan was the man behind the contract behind the Innovative School District.

What is also interesting is to see to whom Horn’s election committee has given extra money. Yep, a campaign committee can do that. It shows your alliances and allegiances.

According to this report, Horn has contributed to these three in the past.

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  • Bill Brawley is the man who wrote and sponsored the Municipal Charter School bill.
  • Rob Bryan brought us the Innovative School District.
  • Nelson Dollar was the GOP’s chief budget writer when more and more money was being taken from the public school system for other “reforms.”

Craig Horn will be a rubber stamp for the policies that have been plaguing public education here in North Carolina for the last nine years. He should not be elected.

 

 

Did You Get A Text From Mark Johnson To Help Him Fight The “Establishment?” Well, He Is The “Establishment.”

Mark Johnson claims that he wants to change the “establishment.”

But in reality he wants to protect the “establishment.”

In fact, he is the “establishment.”

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The term “establishment” has become something of a nebulous term in elections. This use of the “status quo” fallacy is not new, certainly for Mark Johnson. And it is a crutch that has reached absurdity because in actuality, Mark Johnson might be the very poster child for the “status quo” and the “establishment.”

Look at his stint as state superintendent. What Johnson and other business model reformers consider the “status quo” in education is intrinsically linked to a final product, measured by standardized testing and other mercurial measurements. However, the real “status quo” is not really linked to that final product. It is more a reflection of the constant infusion of reform models that have altered the process by which public schools have been able to teach our children. The truth is that the existing state of public education is always being subjected to scrutiny, modification, alteration, and change from outside forces for political or profit-minded reasons. That’s part of the “establishment.”

The real “establishment” is a commitment to flux and change to the variables that measure student achievement and school success by people outside of the actual education process. And in that regard, I do agree that the “establishment” should change.

If anything, the national terrain of public education has been in a state of constant flux for the past thirty years. With the “Nation at Risk” report to “No Child Left Behind” to the advent of high stakes testing to the innumerable business models infused into education to “Race to the Top” to Common Core to charter school movement to vouchers, the thought of even calling what we have had in North Carolina “status quo” is not just wrong, it’s ignorant. And it is purposefully done.

All of that flux was not necessarily brought about by educators as much as by politicians and business leaders – the “establishment.”  Johnson is part of that as he echoes and rubber stamps the very policies and initiatives championed by NC General Assembly GOP stalwarts. The very actions that have caused their version of the“status quo” are allowing politicians to blame public education for failing to hit targets that are constantly moving or in many cases invisible so that “leaders” and reformers can come and claim to save the day and keep the “establishment” in place.

That’s how we get Mark Johnson, the most unqualified state superintendent propped up by a General Assembly that not only has gerrymandered districts and pushed unconstitutional laws, but has spent taxpayer money to help transfer power away from the State Board of Education to a puppet superintendent to privatize the public good of public education even more to protect the “establishment.”

And now he wants to be our Lt. Governor.

A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Every Student Succeeds Act, Common Core, SAT, ACT, standardized tests, achievement gap, graduation rates, merit pay, charter schools, parent triggers, vouchers, value added-measurements, virtual schools, Teach For America, formal evaluations – there are so many variables, initiatives, and measurements that constantly change without consistency which all affect public schools and how the public perceives those schools.

When entities like the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the American Federation of Children, the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), think tanks, and other PAC’s are constantly promoting reforms in public schools, it’s hard not to see who the “establishment” is. Those entities are all active in North Carolina and they see Mark Johnson as their man.

He will protect their “status quo.”

So if there is any “establishment” in Raleigh, it has Johnson’s face attached to it.

Yep, he’s right. We do need to get rid of that “establishment.”

Following the Money – Remembering Who Helped Finance Mark Johnson’s 2016 Campaign

“My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee. I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.” – Betsy DeVos, 1997

In four days, Mark Johnson will be in a primary election for Lt. Gov. of North Carolina.

When money is raised in a campaign, the law states that it must be itemized and that there are limits as to what can be given in certain channels.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections maintains a web site that allows citizens to view campaign finance transactions for anyone who has run for state office in North Carolina, including Mark Johnson in his 2016 campaign.

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While money for the 2020 campaign trail is for a different office (funds for his 2020 campaign can be found here) , looking back at the 2016 campaign and who contributed (along with the thoughts of DeVos above) gives an indication of who looks to Johnson as someone who supports their agenda. Reflecting on Johnson’s record over the last three-plus years as State Super might give you an idea of how diligent he is in carrying out a prescribed agenda. And the Lt. Gov. does sit on the State Board of Education.

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Five such donors certainly stood out in the 2016 election. Four of them were from out of state, but certainly still have interests in North Carolina.

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1. If you have heard of the drug OxyContin, then you may have heard of the many lawsuits brought against its maker, Purdue PharmaIn fact, there are over 1600 lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and all states except two are suing the company over its role in the current opioid crisis which North Carolina is fighting. Purdue Pharma is owned by the Sackler family.

Jonathan Sackler contributed twice.

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2. John Bryan, the founder of the Team CFA based in Oregon, has been donating money left and right to specific politicians and PAC’s here in North Carolina to extend the charter industry including Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (through a PAC). He spear-headed an attempt to win the contract of the ISD school in Robeson that was recently given a green light with Dr. Eric Hall as its first superintendent. Team CFA has many schools now operating in North Carolina with new campuses coming next school year.

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3. Steuart Walton is CEO of Game Composites. It is located in Bentonville, AR. That’s the home of Walmart. Yes, he is part of the Walton family – the grandson of Sam Walton. Along with the Gates Foundation, and the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation has been a key player in the “education reform” business.

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4. The Roger Bacon Academy Charter School Chain now has four different campuses in North Carolina. It is a for-profit charter school chain.

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5. LEE stands for Leadership in Education Equity. It is a spin-off of Teach for America of which Johnson is an alumnus. In a EdWeek article from 2014, LEE was described as helping TFA alumni like Johnson into policy and advocacy. In the summer before the general election, they sent Johnson $5,100.

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Pharmaceuticals, charter schools, ALEC inspired education “reforms”, and an initiative to put TFA alums in government positions – that’s what Johnson seems to champion.

And all of this is legal, but it indicates loyalties that someone may have. And as the leader of the state’s public school system, does Johnson’s acceptance of these contributions indicate a willingness to help their agendas?

Just look at his track record.

Just Found Someone Who Sends Out More Glossy Fliers Than Mark Johnson

Within the past five days, the Mike Bloomberg campaign has directly sent to me more fliers than our state superintendent.

And while it is safe to assume that the taxpayers of North Carolina did not foot the bill to print and distribute these, there is one particular similarity-

After next Tuesday, both may stop sending stuff.

Are They Willing to Confront State Lawmakers on Behalf of Public Schools? Why Local School Board Elections Are So Important in 2020 for Every NC School System

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Throughout North Carolina, 2020 is another big year for many local school board elections and each is of vital importance.

Of all the 2018 primary political signs that were spread throughout the city where I reside, at least three of four deal with local school board elections.

This is not an anomaly. I cannot remember a time in an election cycle in which the majority of roadside political signs of local and state office did not refer to the school board elections. Those elections are that important because so much is at stake.

The largest part of a state’s budget tends to be toward public education. A major part of a school board’s (city or county) identity is how it helps students achieve within what resources and funds are available. In North Carolina, where a state general assembly tends to pass more fiscal responsibility to LEA’s (think class size mandate), a school board’s calling to help all students achieve must be met by those who truly understand what best helps schools and students.

No wonder school board elections are so important.

At the heart of a school board’s responsibilities are supporting a selected superintendent, guiding the creation of policies and curriculum, making sure there are adequate facilities, and seeing that budgetary needs are met.

That means understanding what students, teachers, and support staff need. That means understanding how schools operate and how they are affected by mandates and laws that come from Raleigh. And when policies that are handed down from the state that may not treat the local system favorably, then the school board must confront those in Raleigh and help fight for what is best for the local students.

There are 115(+) LEA’s in North Carolina – lots of school boards who should know their students best and know what obstacles that their schools face which need to be removed.

But what if one of those obstacles is the North Carolina General Assembly? Consider a per-pupil expenditure rate that is lower when adjusted for inflation than before the Great Recession. Consider the lack of textbook funds and overcrowded buildings and state mandates for testing that take many school days away from instruction. Consider the funding of unproven reforms like an Innovative School District and vouchers. Consider the growth of unregulated charter schools. Consider teacher pay and local supplements. Consider that there is a drastic reduction in teacher candidates in our universities. That is just a small list.

All of that brings to light what might be one of the most important jobs that a school board must undertake: it must be willing to challenge the state in an explicit and overt manner on matters that directly affect their local schools.

In a state where almost 1 in 4 students lives in poverty and where Medicaid was not extended to those who relied on such services, schools are drastically affected as students who walk into schools bring in their life challenges. If student achievement is a primary responsibility of a school board, whatever stands in the way of students being able to achieve becomes an issue that a school board must confront.

So, is the person whose name is on a political sign for school board candidacy willing to fight for our schools even if it means confronting Raleigh’s policies?

That might be the first question I might ask of any candidate for local school board – the first of many.

What Lawmakers Are Really Saying Is That They Actually Fear A Well-Educated General Public

Two quotes highlighted in a July 10th, 2019 WRAL editorial were really glaring. And that editorial should be required reading because it correctly stated that the NCGA powers-that-be are more interested in giving more corporate tax cuts than fully-funding our public schools.

It was a stunning confession. It says far more than state Rep. Craig Horn probably intended when he recently talked to a New York Times reporter. It revealed a basic truth about the priorities of the leaders of North Carolina’s legislature.

We simply don’t have the money to provide a quality pre-K experience to every child in North Carolina, even though I absolutely agree that a face-to-face, high-quality pre-K is the best option,” Horn told the reporter.

What! North Carolina doesn’t have the money? How could that be? Just look at the bragging from the state’s top legislative leader about our economy.

“The financial and economic state of our state is the strongest it has ever been. North Carolina is booming,” said state Senate leader Phil Berger.

What those two quotes also said in a more covert way is that people like Craig Horn and Phil Berger really do not want to fulfill their obligation as outlined by the state constitution. Why? Because there exists a fear that drives them to do what they do as far as legislation is concerned.

This is what the NC State Constitution states:

(1) General and uniform system: term. The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.

There is one thing that the current powers in the North Carolina General Assembly fear most.

It is not unclean water.
It is not a budget deficit.
It sure as hell isn’t climate change.
It’s not even gerrymandered maps, although all of those weigh in the equation.

It is having a well-educated general public – one that would not allow current lawmakers to be in a position of power to continue to promote an agenda that absolutely favors a few over those they should be helping. And their actions over these last eight-plus years have been a recipe in ensuring their policies remain intact.

Many of those have been very apparent. There is the current debacle of gerrymandered legislative districts. Even the redrawn maps have shown a more-than-obsessive addiction to hold on to majorities in Raleigh.

There was a voter-ID law that was struck down in the judicial system. A determined effort to water down minority voices might have been one of the most open secrets in this state. And now the voter ID law recently passed still cannot decide what ID’s it will accept.

But those unconstitutional actions coincided with other egregious acts that have weakened public education to a breaking point – one that makes the 2020 elections so very important. Those actions have been assaults on public schools coated with a layer of propaganda that keeps telling North Carolinians that we need to keep reforming public education.

What once was considered one of the most progressive public school systems in the South and the nation all of a sudden needed to be reformed? What necessitated that? Who made that decision? Look to the lawmakers who saw public education and the allotted budgeting for public education dictated by the state constitution as an untapped reservoir of money to funnel to private entities.

The public started to see test scores that appeared to be less than desirable even though what and who was being tested and the format of the testing was in constant flux.

The public started to see “school performance grades” that did nothing more than track how poverty affected student achievement. The “schools were failing” to actually help cover up what lawmakers were refusing to do to help people before they even had a chance to succeed in the classroom.

The teaching profession was beginning to be shaped by a business model that does not discern a public service from a profit minded investment scheme which changed a profession of professionals into one that favors short term contractors.

But there are two large indicators that voters in North Carolina should really pay attention to when it comes to the NCGA’s relentless pursuit to quell their fears of a well-educated general public – money spent per pupil and tuition costs to state supported universities.

Below is one of many different data tables that shows how willfully the NCGA has made sure to keep public schools from thriving (from  the NC Justice Center’s July 2016 analysis).

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And how that per pupil expenditure truly affects schools becomes even clearer when you read reporting that clearly shows how funds are used (and stretched) by school systems.

Furthermore, resources get more expensive over time.

Take Kris Nordstrom’s piece entitled “As new school year commences, shortage of basic supplies demonstrates legislature’s failure to invest”.

This table from that report should be easy to decipher.

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Simply put, this is a great example of truth-telling and an equally fantastic exposure of the very fear that the NCGA has of thriving public schools. Nordstrom states,

“When adjusting for enrollment and inflation, school funding has been cut in the following areas since leadership of the General Assembly switched hands in 2010 (a time period in which the state was already struggling to find resources as a result of the Great Recession): classroom teachers, instructional support personnel (counselors, nurses, librarians, etc.), school building administrators (principals and assistant principals), teacher assistants, transportation, low wealth schools, disadvantaged students, central office, limited English proficiency, academically gifted, small counties, driver training, and school technology. Funding streams for teacher professional development and mentoring of beginning teachers have been eliminated completely.”

  • Don’t we have a state surplus?
  • Don’t we spend millions on validate vouchers that have shown no improvement in student outcome?
  • Don’t we spend millions in legal fees defending laws that are unconstitutional?

The answer is “YES” to all of these.

Remember, our lawmakers are bragging that we are economically thriving. So who is profiting?

The Pew Research Center for U.S. Politics & Policy conducted a national survey on the attitudes on whether higher education has had a positive or negative effect on our country (http://www.people-press.org/2017/07/10/sharp-partisan-divisions-in-views-of-national-institutions/). It’s rather disturbing.

More disturbing is that it is not surprising.

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Inside Higher Ed highlighted the Pew survey. Paul Fain in his report opened up with this:

“In dramatic shift, more than half of Republicans now say colleges have a negative impact on the U.S., with wealthier, older and more educated Republicans being least positive”(https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/07/11/dramatic-shift-most-republicans-now-say-colleges-have-negative-impact).

Might want to see who controls policy in Raleigh.

And those “wealthier, older, and more educated Republicans” who are in control in Raleigh have also enabled state-supported colleges and universities to become more expensive.

At the beginning of 2017 year, WUNC published a report called “Incoming UNC Students Likely To See Tuition Increase” (http://wunc.org/post/incoming-unc-students-likely-see-tuition-increase#stream/0). In it there is a data table that shows the steady and steep increase in tuition costs for UNC undergraduate resident tuition.

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And yes, we are still a bargain compared to other states, but that is an over 70% increase that does not include housing, board, food, supplies, books, travel, and all of the other expenses sure to accompany a college experience.

Is it supposed to make sense that rising tuition costs should accompany lower per-pupil expenditure in public secondary schools all the while boasting of a state surplus in a state that currently has racially gerrymandered legislative districts and an increased investment in a rather robust effort to privatize public schools?

Apparently “yes” to many in Raleigh.

Which is why they say “no” so often to people.

Here’s One For Raleigh: “In the long run school spending increases substantially boost test scores and graduation rates.”

Following educational researchers, journalists, and policy analysts on outlets like Twitter can be incredibly useful in gauging the dialogue that helps to drive policy. Many times it can put into your reach studies that are not only revealing but have concrete data that flies in the face of those pushing “reforms” in public education.

One of those I follow is Kris Nordstrom (@KrisNordstrom).

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Matt Barnum is with Chalkbeat, an educational news outlet. He is referencing a study that was just published in The Journal of Public Economics entitled “School district operational spending and student outcomes: Evidence from tax elections in seven states.

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Here’s a small summary that Barnum referred to in his tweet.

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And here’s this:

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North Carolina, you listening?

 

The Wayback Machine: What New Teachers Got Then Versus Now in NC

Image result for wayback machine cartoonI am currently in my fifteenth year of teaching here in my second stint in North Carolina. Before I moved to the metro Atlanta area, I had taught two other years in the same system where I now work.

When I came back as a “new” teacher, Phil Berger and Tim Moore were not in power. And as a “new” teacher the following was freely given to new teachers as part of the agreement to be employed by the state of North Carolina:

  1. A salary schedule that had step increases for every year of service.
  2. The opportunity to receive due-process rights when I had obtained a continuing certificate after three successful years of teaching.
  3. A schedule that included a seven period day with two planning periods and five classes that were capped in size.
  4. Graduate degree pay as I had obtained my masters degree.
  5. Health benefits as a retiree if I retired as a teacher in NC.
  6. Money paid by the state to pursue National Boards.
  7. Paid professional development from the state as it was in the budget.
  8. The opportunity to receive longevity pay after 10 years of service like other state employees.
  9. The absence of a school performance grading system that weighs test scores over student growth.
  10. The knowledge that all monies designated for public education was actually going to public schools.

If I was to become a new teacher in 2020 with years of Berger and Moore and all of their “reforms,” how many of those would be available to me now?

 

 

 

None.

 

Thinking About The Leandro Case: What NC Is Spending For Public Schools – 2008-2009 Versus 2019-2020

Last October (10/29), Rob Schofield published a piece on NC Policy Watch explaining the negative effects of the budget that Sen. Phil Berger and others in the NCGA were pushing (and actually are still pushing with the current impasse )in the NCGA.

The second effect dealt with public education.

#2 – Further undermining the state’s desperately underfunded public schools – As veteran education policy analyst Kris Nordstrom explained in July, there are myriad ways to illustrate the damage the state lawmakers are doing to North Carolina’s once-proud and now-threadbare public education system, but here are three that tell you about all you need to know:

  • Overall, the conference budget would have left total school funding 2.9 percent below pre-Recession levels when adjusted for enrollment growth and inflation. This figure underestimates the actual budget pressures faced by North Carolina’s public schools, as schools’ largest cost drivers – salary and benefit costs – have increased faster than traditional measures of inflation.

  • Of the 24 biggest allotments in FY 08-09, 20 of them remain below their pre-Recession levels (see tables here and here).

  • North Carolina would continue to spend significantly less per pupil than South Carolina.

The tables referred to in the second bullet point are as follows (credit to Kris Nordstrom):

While the second table does not have a dollar amount attached to the figures, what it shows is that not as many classroom teachers, support personnel, and administrators are being financed now as they were a little over ten years ago.

Just for clarification, the US Inflation Calculator states that from 2008 to 2019, we have experienced a cumulative inflation of %19.3.

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And NC also has a public university system that it supports.

In 2008-2009, this was the cost of attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill per semester.

inflation2

$2698.38 for resident students. That would translate to…

inflation4

$3217.95.

But this is what it is now.

inflation3

$4493.25.

And don’t forget, NC has a really big state budget surplus according to Phil and Tim and Tim wants to be chancellor at ECU according to rumors.