Our friends at Neighbors on Call are sponsoring a series of "NCGA 101" events with local legislators in Durham, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and Pittsboro. Register and share! 2020 will be here before we know it, so why not get some GOTV training with You Can Vote? Once you're trained, check the calendar of events here.

NC Open Gov. Coalition and the Elon University School of Communications to host Sunshine Day on March 11, 2019. Registration/Check in begins at 9:30am. The purpose of Sunshine Day is to celebrate openness and transparency in North Carolina government.

We here at Stamp NC Blue and SNCB PAC are thrilled to learn about the new election planned for NC-09 (Harris / McCready). We are paying close attention to national and local conversations about postcard campaigns for this special election. If our expertise is needed, we'll certainly rally our troops but in the meantime, we'll pass along any other opportunities we learn of. Stay tuned!

So what is the future of education in NC? Last week NC Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson held an invitation only Innovation and Leadership dinner where he promised to make a big announcement regarding public education. Many advocates were upset that a private event was being held to announce what should be a public announcement about public schools. Read more here about the ‘Twitter Storm.’

During the dinner, Johnson laid out his education priorities. Here is the ‘#NC2030’ plan outlined from the February 20th news release, STATE SUPERINTENDENT MARK JOHNSON ANNOUNCES THE #NC2030 PLAN TO MAKE NORTH CAROLINA THE BEST PLACE TO LEARN AND TEACH BY 2030. The plan includes

continuing to increase teacher compensation, eliminating high-stakes standardized testing through personalized learning, recruiting our best and brightest to the teaching profession, providing more local flexibility to school districts, encouraging all viable career pathways for students, and investing in school construction, pre-K and kindergarten-readiness programs, and better support for beginning teachers.

Johnson said the success of the plan will be measured by looking for yearly increases in

*4-year-olds engaged in high-quality kindergarten readiness programs
*Fourth graders reading on grade level
*Students who, after graduation, are on track to their chosen, fulfilling career
*Recruits to education professions and educators remaining in N.C. public schools

NC Policy Watch quoted Johnson as saying

We’re going to have a more detailed legislative summary with the actual dollar figures that we’re going to be presenting to the General Assembly. This will be our legislative push for this summer.

Advocates say the proposal seems to fall short in many areas and is too vague. Read more from NC Policy Watch.

More information seems to be outlined on the www.ncpublicschools.org website. You can read the outline of the legislative agenda in the news release, see the categories below. (Links to other recent news articles and resources about each topic can be found in parentheses along with my commentary.)

Best Place to Begin

Help All Children Enter Kindergarten Ready to Learn including expansion, funding efforts and alignment with kindergarten expectations

(Read more related to funding preK. I hope that the superintendent’s office will rely on expertise from The State Office of Early Learning and other early learning stakeholders when designing this initiative. The website specifies expanding preschool opportunities for 4-year-olds and aligning the programs to kindergarten expectations. In addition, I hope that NC DPI also considers aligning kindergarten expectations to what is more developmentally appropriate as an extension of the North Carolina Foundations of Early Learning and Development.)

Continue to Focus on Early Literacy The big one here is improvements to Read to Achieve but other mentions include other partnerships and reviewing assessments.  

(Read more in recent news about Read to Achieve NC’s ‘Read to Achieve’ program failed. Let’s turn the page.

Best Place to Learn and Pursue Career Pathways

Implement Personalized, Low-stress Education Settings that Maintain High Standards (We are going to need a lot more details to understand this one, especially the “low-stress” part, but you can read more related to career pathways here.)

Encourage Connections to Successful Career Pathways

Ensure Safe, Supportive Environments for All Students, Families, and Educators

Facilitate Appropriate Learning Spaces for Students and Educators

Best Place to Teach

Secure Competitive Compensation and Benefits for Educators (Read more about The Facts on Teacher Salaries, teacher recruitment and principal pay. I hope they really work on this one and also focus on teacher retention. Social media is full of stories of teachers, including those nearing retirement, saying the stress is just too great and they don’t know how they will hang on.)

Provide 21st Century Tools and Support for Educators

More information from the news release:

Johnson also unveiled two major initiatives to help achieve the #NC2030 goals. First, the North Carolina Leadership Dashboard is an online tool optimizing data-driven leadership strategies. Intended for superintendents and charter school directors, the dashboard allows leaders to support their human capital strategies with real-time data. Currently being built with support from The Wallace Foundation, the tool will be launched in time for the 2019-20 school year.
The second initiative is a collaboration among the Department of Public Instruction, BEST NC, and Teach.org, with support from the Belk Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Coastal Credit Union. “Teach NC,” launching this spring, is 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.

Advocates say the proposal seems to fall short in many areas, Read more from NC Policy Watch. Also, read What was missing at Superintendent Johnson’s private education summit. This references two articles about Johnson’s lack of support for public schools. See here and here.

NC Policy watch also says the nonpartisan Public School Forum of N.C. released

its annual examination of local school funding. The K-12 spending gap between affluent and poor counties is a canyon, the group reports. In the highest-spending county, Orange County, locals paid more than $5,000 per student. The lowest-spending county, Swain County – where more than 15 percent of the population lives below the poverty line – coughs up about $425 per student.
More galling, the gap between the ten highest spending counties and the ten lowest spending counties is the largest – about $2,500 per student – since the Forum began filing its sobering report in 1987, a reflection of the wide variance in local tax bases.
If the subject had been raised, surely dinner-goers at Johnson’s private bash would have gagged on dessert.

There are certainly a lot of details to be filled in. We will keep watching for more announcements, including the proposal to the NCGA. Just because these priorities have been outlined does not mean this is the future of education for NC. Superintendent Johnson must follow through to make positive change for NC Public Schools and the NCGA must buy in. My greatest hope is that experts will be invited to participate in the planning of these initiatives to better understand what is in the best interest of students and teachers. Many were not invited when Superintendent Johnson’s big announcement was made.

Disclaimer: Stamp NC Blue is not authorized by, financed by, or affiliated with any candidate or campaign. Questions? Contact info@stampncblue.org

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