About Those State Board of Education Requirements For 2020-2021 Remote Instruction Plans

Late last week, the State Board of Education approved requirements for remote learning in the anticipation that some form of remote learning will be part of the 2020-2021 school year for all public schools. This bulletin was released last Thursday.

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The last part of that release highlighted five specific requirements for each school system.

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  • Consulting with teachers, administrators and instructional support staff, parents, students, community partners, and other stakeholders in developing the plan and effectively communicating it to all involved parties.
  • Surveying student and teacher home connectivity and providing for remote instruction that is appropriate for teachers and students with limited connectivity capability, including the opportunity for students to download remote learning materials in advance when practicable.
  • Ensuring that remote instructional time, practice, and application components support learning growth that continues towards mastery of the standard course of study; and including work measurement guidelines appropriate to each grade level, including deadlines for submission of assignments and methods to assess and grade learning during remote instruction.
  • Ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access to the remote instruction provided by their public school units and that remote instruction is provided in a manner consistent with each student’s individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan.
  • Tracking and reporting attendance on remote instruction days, including protocols for determining attendance, the reporting system to be used, and how attendance procedures will be communicated to parents before remote instruction begins.

 

But look closely at those requirements and what they can encompass and then ask these questions:

What does “consulting with teachers, administrators and instructional support staff, parents, students, community partners, and other stakeholders in developing the plan and effectively communicating it to all involved parties” actually mean? A survey of a few questions does not simply cover this.

Does “surveying student and teacher home connectivity” to ensure that all students and teachers be given the resources to provide for remote learning mean investing money in a digital infrastructure throughout the county/city? If the state constitution says that each student will have access to a free sound education, does that mean that people have to spend money to make themselves ready for remote learning with their own devices and internet connections?

Will each school system offer professional development and collaboration time for schools and teachers to prepare for going remote instead of asking them to learn “on the fly” as has happened this spring?

Are school systems really ready to “ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the remote instruction provided by their public school units?” And is Betsy DeVos aware of this? (As she has seemed oblivious to IDEA for over three years.)

And there are many more questions that need to be asked.

 

Every School Reopening Committee Must Have Certified & Classified People Who Work In Public Schools

When State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced the members of the NC Schools Reopening Task Force last month he forgot to include within its membership some vital perspectives and voices.

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Namely teachers and classified employees who work in public schools.

And now the lack of a semblance of a state plan to reopen schools safely almost begs that each school system put together its own plans.

There are 117 LEAs in NC. Add to that, the needs of elementary schools may differ from middle schools and high schools as far as reopening is concerned. There may have to be multiple plans for each school system from the smallest of counties that have only a few schools to the biggest districts with over 100 schools.

And each plan that is crafted, revised, and implemented needs to have the voices and input from those who are on the front lines and have the clearest perspectives of what happens in schools on a daily basis: certified and classified staff.

Not just teachers, but also

  • Teacher Assistants
  • Testing Coordinators
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Media Assistants
  • Interpreters
  • Therapists – speech, occupational, physical
  • Data Control and Clerks
  • Janitors
  • Maintenance
  • Bus Drivers and Transportation
  • Food Services
  • Crossing Guards
  • Nurses

Without input from those who know schools best, any reopening plan will be just another example of people who may not know what they are really dealing with issuing ill-conceived mandates that may do more damage than good.

 

NC Needs A Nurse In Every School. Every Day.

Remember this quote from Lt. Gov. Dan Forest from 2016 when he was championing HB2, the bathroom bill?

“If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it. North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless.” – Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on April 5th, 2016 concerning HB2 and PayPal’s announcement to not expand in Charlotte.

Sen. Phil Berger defended that bill just as hard as Forest did and Berger sure as hell wants Forest to be the next governor of this state because we all know that Dan Forest is running for governor. He’s only been campaigning since Roy Cooper took office.

Look at that statement again, especially the last part: “North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless.”

Does Berger believe the same thing? Only if it suits his political ambitions.

He posted this official statement on April 26th, 2019 when NCAE was aksing for the NCGA to fund more nursing positions in schools.

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Did Berger just put a price tag on our students’ lives?

Yep. Based on “averages.”

The numbers of students committing suicide, experiencing mental health issues, dealing with depression and other maladies is still skyrocketing. And to argue we don’t need more nurses and health workers in schools when schools re-open from this pandemic (when they re-open) is ludicrous.

Funny how Berger issued that statement when he literally championed a bill to protect students at high costs against a nonexistent danger with HB2 while the state was experiencing an economic boom.

 

 

North Carolina’s Opportunity Grants – STILL The Least Transparent Voucher System In The Nation

The Children’s Law Clinic At Duke University’s Law School just issued its latest report on the voucher program of North Carolina called the Opportunity Grants.

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And while it shows that more students are using them for secular private schools, the majority of the vouchers are going to religiously affiliated schools. In fact, since they were created six years ago, over 90% of the vouchers given have gone to religious schools.

Below are some of the more illuminating data tables and graphs.

A sizable numbers of those new students awarded vouchers this year never have been to a public school.

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The vast majority of vouchers used in 2019-2020 still went to religious schools.

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Most of the schools that receive voucher students have a total enrollment of 250 students or less.

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Trinity Christian still ranks as the largest receiver of voucher funds. The top five are religious based schools.

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The largest receiver of voucher funds for secular schools closed suddenly in January of this year. FOR FINANCIAL REASONS.

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But probably the biggest takeaway is that NC literally has no good oversight as to how the vouchers are working.

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Hence, the list of recommendations makes incredible sense.

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The Anemic & Reactionary School Re-Opening Plan Of NC

EdNC.org published a post yesterday entitled “Expecting school to reopen like normal next year? Don’t.

And there were two rather disturbing aspects about what was reported concerning the State Superintendent’s plan to address the reopening of public schools this next school year.

First, Johnson was quoted as communicating to members of the COVID-19 taskforce,

“I will be blunt. Since the start of our switch to remote learning in March, I have held the belief that we are going to need to utilize remote learning next school year as well in some form or fashion.”

That’s what state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said in an email to members and advisors of a task force looking at how to safely reopen schools amid COVID-19.

The first part of March was two months ago. That’s two months of exploring options, talking to people, consulting experts, collaborating with other officials in other states, etc.  And truthfully, there really has not been any communication to local school systems or schools about what has happened in those two months among the decision makers.

That actually speaks volumes.

The second alarming reality of EdNC’s post is the comparison one can make among working drafts of plans to reopen schools that different states have put together.

Maryland has a plan:

It’s 54 pages right now.

Missouri has one that is over 90 pages.

Oklahoma has one that is now 45 pages.

And what is NC’s? Just this.

One page.

Says a lot.

The Average NC Teacher Salary is $54,682. Here’s Why That Polished Turd Is Grossly Misleading.

From the libertarian think tank John Locke Foundation today,

“According to DPI budget analysts, North Carolina’s average teacher salary reached $54,682 this year.  The 2019-20 average was an increase of $742 or 1.4% compared to the previous school year.  DPI declares that North Carolina’s average teacher compensation ranks second only to Georgia in the Southeast.  Last year, North Carolina ranked fourth in the region.”

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Of course, Stoops would spin this “statistic”into an empty narrative. Even Tim Moore tweeted out some praise for this empty “victory.”

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That figure is one of the most grossly manufactured statistics in this state. Let’s lay bare the facts of how that figure has come about.

The operative word here is “average”. What GOP stalwarts purposefully fail to tell you is that most of the raises have occurred at the very low rungs of the salary schedule. Of course, you can raise the salary of first year teachers by a few thousand dollars and it would give them an average raise of maybe 10-15%. You would only have to give veteran teachers a very small raise funded by longevity pay (which we no longer get) and the OVERALL average raise still looks good, and not much money has to be invested.

“Average” does not mean “actual”. But it sounds great to those who don’t understand the math.

This report reflects a whopping double standard of the NC General Assembly and a total contradiction to what is really happening to average teacher pay. Just follow my logic and see if it makes sense.

The last nine years have seen tremendous changes to teacher pay. For new teachers entering in the profession here in NC there is no longer any graduate degree pay bump, no more longevity pay (for anyone), and a changed salary schedule that only makes it possible for a teacher to top out on the salary schedule with at 52K per year (unless they use their own money to pursue a rigorous national certification process).

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So how can that be the average pay in NC be over 54K when no one can really make much over 52K as a new teacher in his/her entire career unless they all become nationally certified (which takes a monetary investment by the teacher to start)?

Easy. North Carolina is counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. The very people whose salaries simply disgusted the former governor and the General Assembly to the point that they had to take measures to “lower” them are actually being used to tout this new wonderful “average.”

Furthermore, this average is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of budgets that are allocating less money to each central office of each school system for administrative costs. Now each county has to raise more money to actually offset those costs and also allow for local supplements. And not all localities provide the same supplements. Imagine what the pandemic will be doing to these funds.

Plus, those LEA’s will have to do something in the next few years to raise even more money to meet the requirements of the delayed class size mandate.

Any veteran teacher who is making above 50K based on seniority, graduate pay, and national boards are gladly counted in this figure. It simply drives up the CURRENT average pay. But when these veteran teachers who have seniority, graduate pay, and possibly national certification retire (and many are doing that early at 25 years), then the very people who seem to be a “burden” on the educational budget leave the system.

In actuality, that would drive the average salary down as time goes on. If the top salary that any teacher could make is barely over 50K (some will have higher as National Board Certified Teachers, but not a high percentage), then how can you really tout that average salaries will be higher?

You can if you are only talking about the right here and right now.

The “average bear” can turn into a bigger creature if allowed to be mutated by election year propaganda. That creature is actually a monster called the “Ignoramasaurus Rex” known for its loud roar but really short arms that keep it from having far reaching consequences.

Remember the word “average” is a very easy word to manipulate. Politicians use it well. In this case, the very teachers who are driving the “average” salary up are the very people that the state wants to not have in a few years. There will then be a new average. It can’t possibly be over 54K then if current trends keep going.

And Stoops even knows that. From a report in the News & Observer in March of 2019:

Terry Stoops, vice president of research for the John Locke Foundation, says he agrees that the average teacher salary is misleading. But he questions why critics didn’t make more of an issue of its accuracy before Republicans began raising the state average.

“The fact that the average is influenced by factors such as the experience of teachers and the credentials that they possess is one of the reasons why the average is a misleading figure to use when discussing teacher compensation,” Stoops said. “But the problems preceded the Republicans.”

Interesting that he did not mention that the Republicans took away step increases and longevity pay and that they have been in power for almost a decade.

May 17, 1954 – Brown Vs. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Brown vs. Board of Education. The decision on this landmark case was delivered 66 years ago yesterday. Below is the “Syllabus” of the court’s decision which was unanimous.

Syllabus

Segregation of white and Negro children in the public schools of a State solely on the basis of race, pursuant to state laws permitting or requiring such segregation, denies to Negro children the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment — even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors of white and Negro schools may be equal.

(a) The history of the Fourteenth Amendment is inconclusive as to its intended effect on public education.

(b) The question presented in these cases must be determined not on the basis of conditions existing when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, but in the light of the full development of public education and its present place in American life throughout the Nation.

(c) Where a State has undertaken to provide an opportunity for an education in its public schools, such an opportunity is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.

(d) Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal.

(e) The “separate but equal” doctrine adopted in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, has no place in the field of public education.

(f) The cases are restored to the docket for further argument on specified questions relating to the forms of the decrees.

 

So, how far have we come here in North Carolina?

The Best “Technology” In Education Is Still The Well-Resourced Teacher

So much has been written and posted in education news outlets concerning the use of technology in North Carolina over the years.

That use of technology and the conversation surrounding it has only grown with the pandemic and the closing of physical school buildings and the use of remote learning.

Yes, technology is important. And investing in technology is important. In fact, investing in making sure that we upgrade routinely in technology is important.

But the best “technology” in education is the highly supported teacher. From Richard Gerver of EdSurge on December 24th, 2018:

In 2013, I had the opportunity to discuss the future of education with Eric Schmidt, who was then the executive chairman of Google. I was keen to find out his take: Would technology ever replace the teacher? At that time, this question was being debated throughout the education world. We had seen two decades of technological revolution in schools, starting with desktop computers, then networks, laptops, interactive whiteboard boards and on and on it went…

His answer to me was immediate and unequivocal. “No,” he said. “Never.”

He went on to explain that whilst technology was incredible, more than just a catalyst for change, it shouldn’t and wouldn’t ever replace teachers. Why? And why, especially, would one of the world’s foremost technology leaders believe this? Because, in his words, “Education, is, at its heart, about the development of human beings. To do that, you will always need high levels of human interaction.”

Before the pandemic, schools in my district used Chromebooks. Students were already put into Google Classrooms to collaborate. Papers and presentations came to my inbox via Google Docs and Google Slides. In fact, Google has more “free” applications” that are useful in the classroom when there is no emergency situation as we have now.

And its executive chair said, “Education, is, at its heart, about the development of human beings. To do that, you will always need high levels of human interaction.”

In over twenty years in a public school classroom in both rural and urban settings, I have seen curriculum changes, NCLB, RttT, EOC’s, EOG’s, AYP’s, and countless other standardized tests plus a countless flux in how teacher effectiveness and student achievement are measured.

The only constant is the student / teacher relationship.

It is about people – the best technology a classroom can have.

What makes a good teaching resource? | Opinion | RSC Education

May 16, 2018 Was Two Years Ago. So, What Are We Still Willing To Do?

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May 16, 2018. Much of what was at the center of that march is still relevant now. AND MORE!

No doubt that there are still some lawmakers who wish to forget what happened and let time work some magic in the memories of public school teachers and advocates.

But that was twp years ago. And for a lot of us, it is still fresh in our minds.

Tomorrow will be May 16, 2020. Almost six months divides this day in May with Election Day in November, and although there is still much to figure out in this recent pandemic and time of school closures, much can still be done between now and November.

Lots.

  • You can canvas for political candidates who are pro-public education.
  • You can make sure that friends and relatives are apprised of the current situation in North Carolina’s public education system and make sure that they are voting.
  • You can join education activist efforts to help galvanize more and more people.
  • You can call or email your legislators about issues and ask questions.
  • Be sure to look at local elections for school boards and county / city commissioners and make sure which ones are most sensitive to the plight of public schools.
  • Connect with others on social media and spread the word.
  • Volunteer to register voters and maybe even drive some to the polls when we are allowed to.
  • Find out about early voting and absentee voting options and help those in your family or circle of friends who may need these avenues to participate.
  • If you are not a teacher, then volunteer for a school when they reopen or go to events sponsored by the school and take others with you so they can see how important public schools are.
  • Wear Red 4 Ed.
  • Wear spirit wear from your local schools.
  • Remember what 20,000 teachers looked like on May 16, 2018 and how much that rattled the current powers-that-be.