This past week, the Raleigh News & Observer printed a report entitled “Nearly 1 in 5 NC students are opting out of traditional public schools. Does it matter?” in which T. Keung Hui gave an overview of the continuing trend of more and more students leaving traditional public schools and attending private, charter, and home schools.
For the third year in a row, enrollment has fallen in North Carolina’s traditional public schools even as the number of students continues to rise in charter schools, private schools and homeschools. The percentage of the state’s 1.8 million students attending traditional public schools has dropped to 80.8 percent and is continuing to fall rapidly (http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/local/article214708040.html?__twitter_impression=true).
It is a report that should be read but it should be read in conjunction with an editorial that the N&O Board released a day afterward on Hui’s piece. It is entitled “Shrinking public schools reflects the state’s neglect.” It is spot-on.
That editorial states,
“What’s happening in North Carolina is that a concerted effort by the Republican-controlled General Assembly is starving public schools of resources and encouraging the expansion of educational options that lack standards and oversight” (http://amp.newsobserver.com/opinion/article214851905.html?__twitter_impression=true).
That concerted effort is actually a three-headed attack aimed to shed an ill-favored light on public schools to help bolster more students attending non-traditional schools.
Too many privatization entities outside of North Carolina are allowed to shape our education system.
Look at the graphic below:
That is a diagram of the relationships between entities that many public school advocates deem as detrimental to our public school system. It’s very busy and probably confusing. It’s supposed to be.
Consider the following national entities:
- Teach For America
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Walton Family Foundation
- Eli Broad Foundation
- KIPP Charter Schools
- Democrats For Educational Reform
- Educational Reform Now
- America Succeeds
- American Legislative Exchange Council
- National Heritage Academies
- Charter School USA
- Team CFA
- American Federation for Children
They are all at play in North Carolina, totally enabled by the powers-that-be in the NC General Assembly and their supportive organizations. If you want to see how all of those relationships have panned out in NC and are affecting traditional public schools, then refer to this post: Too Much Damn Privatization of Public Schools.
2. The North Carolina General Assembly is Ignoring the Factors That Hurt Public School Student Achievement.
Last fall, the venerable James Ford of the Public School Forum delivered the keynote address at the North Carolina English Teacher’s Association. It was more than exceptional as Ford highlighted that what hurts our schools are external factors that are not being dealt with such as systemic poverty.
Part of his presentation included a version of what is called the “Iceberg Effect” for education. It looks like this:
Ford talked about (and he is not alone in this belief) how what is above the water, namely student outcomes, is what drives educational policies in our state.
Notice that he means what is visible above the water line is what drives policy. That is what the public sees in the press. That is what lawmakers and leaders hark on when discussing what to do about public education.
But look under the water level and one sees poverty, violence, inequity & inequality, and lack of support of young families and for the schools that service the children of at least 80% of those families.
And then it is hard to not think of the state refusing to expand Medicaid for our most needy. It is not hard to think about the Voter ID restriction law amendment and HB2.
Those have effects. HUGE EFFECTS!
3. The North Carolina General Assembly Has Directly Attacked the State’s Public School System.
The list of actions gets longer everyday.
- Removal of due-process rights
- Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed
- A Puppet of a State Superintnent
- Ever-Changing Teacher Evaluation Protocols
- “Average” Raises that do not translate to verteran teachers
- Less Money Spent per Pupil when Adjusted for Inflation
- Removal Caps on Class Sizes
- Unregulated Charter Schools
- Jeb Bush School Grading System
- Cutting 7400 Teacher Assistants in last ten years
- Opportunity Grants That will reach almost a Billion Dollars with no Proof of Success
- Virtual Charter Schools That Have Failed
- Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges
- Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program and reinvention in a different entity.
- Municipal Charter Bill
When all of the factors from these three fronts are synchronistically orchestrated by a super-majority that is aiming to continue the trend of more students leaving traditional public schools, then it becomes apparent that to preserve traditional public schools is paramount.
And that N&O editorial stated it best:
“If North Carolina is going to foster school choice, it should first ensure that choosing a traditional public school anywhere in the state is an excellent choice” (http://amp.newsobserver.com/opinion/article214851905.html?__twitter_impression=true).
The NCGA is not doing that – deliberately.