Upon looking at the 2.0 version of Operation Polaris from the State Superintendent, it’s hard not to sense that it is just another coat of glossy “educationalese” from a gallon of propaganda painted on an education system that already has a solution mapped out and outlined: the LEANDRO decision.
Released this week, Operation Polaris 2.0 offers a waeak varnish to a plan that has not really addressed what ails our public schools.
Supt. Truitt offers these words in her introduction to that report.
Operation Polaris has been the vision for North Carolina public schools since I stepped into this
role in January 2021. Formally unveiled before the State Board of Education that April, it was
presented as the agency’s fouryear strategic plan for helping North Carolina public schools overcome the challenges of the pandemic while also charting a course to improve the state’s K-12 education system into the future. It was, and remains,
important that Operation Polaris serve as a long-term, proactive and forward-thinking vision for education in the state and that it be one that evolves to fit the challenges and changes facing North Carolina Public Schools.
Many initiatives outlined in the first iteration of Operation Polaris are well underway. Foremost has been the agency’s strong commitment to respond aggressively to the needs of districts and schools across the state with data-driven support. The agency created a first-of-its-kind Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR) to assist districts and schools through evidencebased research. Since its launch, this new research unit has shared findings and strategies to help education leaders overcome the challenges of the pandemic and accelerate student learning through the creation and development of programs, policies, and interventions.
In addition to this work, the state has made great strides in encouraging statewide adoption of best practices grounded in the science of reading, a phonics-based approach to early literacy instruction. During the last year, the agency has established a robust, statewide coaching model reaching nearly 44,000 educators who are learning new skills and mastering old ones to ensure that all students become proficient readers by third grade.
The agency also made progress toward its goal of transforming the pipeline of highly qualified principals in our state. In March of 2022, NCDPI joined other stakeholders to establish a statewide leadership initiative, called the AP Accelerator Program, aimed at providing targeted leadership development and coaching opportunities to assistant principals. This principal-focused professional development opportunity is a key strategy to prepare promising assistant principals and accelerate their readiness to lead and transform all schools, particularly those with the greatest need of strong leadership.
As we continue with Operation Polaris 2.0, the agency will sharpen its focus on schools designated as low performing. The division previously called District and School Transformation in Operation Polaris 1.0 has been renamed Office of District and Regional Support (DRS) and will continue providing comprehensive, hands-on support for North Carolina’s most challenged schools and districts. DRS will diagnose, customize, and mobilize department resources to support the work of local districts to achieve positive educational outcomes for all students, particularly those in low-performing districts and schools.
While the Operation Polaris plan was initially published in September of 2021, the pages that follow outline Operation Polaris 2.0. These new chapters provide an update on the progress that’s been achieved to date, while formally outlining the goals and actions of the agency for the months ahead.
As you will see, there is much work ahead, and we continue to be guided by our North Star – that every student deserves a highly qualified, excellent teacher in every classroom. We are endlessly grateful to our state’s educators, as none of this work would be possible without their relentless dedication to students and their success.
That graphic on page 3 of the report is interesting.
The word “equity” is mentioned four times by the same person who stated this in a letter to lawmakers recently:
It is not surprising that Truitt’s latest version of “reform” and response to the “learning loss” (that she ran her campaign upon) that the word “LEANDRO” never appears.
She commends the work of the newly created Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR):
“The agency created a first-of-its-kind Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR) to assist districts and schools through evidence based research. Since its launch, this new research unit has shared findings and strategies to help education leaders overcome the challenges of the pandemic and accelerate student learning through the creation and development of programs, policies, and interventions.”
Makes one wonder what evidence was used to conduct research. EVAAS? Standardized test scores? And then couple that with all of the accusations of indoctrination, CRT, and the sterilization of curriculum that Truitt seemed to encourage because she never defended teachers and schools in those charges.
“During the last year, the agency has established a robust, statewide coaching model reaching nearly 44,000 educators who are learning new skills and mastering old ones to ensure that all students become proficient readers by third grade.”
That’s the “science of reading” initiative. Sure, finding ways to help students read is great work. What Truitt is referring to is the LTERS mandatory training that teachers are having to do on their own schedule with not much recompense for their efforts and time. In fact, that program has been falsely referred to as a reason for higher reading scores that are so important to Truitt’s narrative about Operation Polaris.
From WFAE (Ann Doss Helms) in August of 2022:
Truitt presented a slide that purported to show dramatic increases in end-of-year reading scores for kindergarteners and first-graders between 2019 and 2022.
“We are really excited to share with you for the first time that preliminary end-of-year data for kindergarten and first-graders show that North Carolina is moving quicker than the rest of the nation in its early literacy recovery,” she said.
Look closely at the following part of Helms’s report.
And then there is a section in Truitt’s Operation Polaris 2.0 report of improving the teacher pipeline.
That new “licensure and compensation system”?
Merit pay – pure and simple.
And touting TeachNC?
Originally, TeachNC was introduced at that February 2019 private dinner that not many teachers got to attend. Mark Johnson presented an initiative that took money from the Gates Foundation, Belk Foundation, and Coastal Credit Union and pays BEST NC and Teach.org to develop a website for what Kelly Hinchcliffe on WRAL.com described as a:
“public-private teacher appreciation campaign to better align the image of the teaching profession with the fruitful, fulfilling career it is and develop a statewide teacher-recruitment system to attract the next generation of North Carolina teachers.”
The price tag for it? $750K. For what? To show “appreciation” for the teaching profession and present it as a viable option for a career in North Carolina.
And now on January 14th, 2023 during the winter break before schools reconvene, it might be a good time to see how well TeachNC is helping to fill those vacancies.
That 10239 figure is just for “classroom teacher” vacancies.
Overall vacancies in positions in schools is much higher.
What Truitt should really be doing is looking at the recommendations of the LEANDRO decision. That should be her North Star – not this one: