Charlotte Talks: NC Education Update

Aug 9, 2017

Wednesday, August 9 2017

Back to school is looming large in Charlotte but some schools here and around the state are already in session.  Mike Collins and two North Carolina education reporters provide an overview of some of the issues facing schools as they start the new year.

Credit alamosbasement / Flickr

CMS is preparing for a new school year with a new superintendent but some schools here and around the state are already back in session.  And there are several issues making headlines this fall:

Some area charter schools are struggling with problems ranging from ethics to academics to finance. 

North Carolina's private school voucher program continues this year, but low income families say that the vouchers don't cover the costs enough to make private schools affordable.

And in the ever-present conversation about teacher pay, some North Carolina school districts are embarking on a pilot program that changes the way teachers are granted pay raises.

Two North Carolina education reporters and host Mike Collins talk through those issues and more.

Some highlights from the show:

On the CMS budget and performance pay

“There are 155 teacher vacancies. That’s normal for this time of year. We knew there was a state budget approved for raises that averaged about 3.3% for teacher; 7% for school administrators; for non-educational staff, 3% or $1,000 -whichever is higher and for bus drivers a $1,500 raise for the year.”

“There’s always the view that if we have money to give to teachers, we should be doing across the board raises. Everyone agrees that the best teachers should be paid better, it’s when you start trying to define “best teacher” and attach money to it that you start running into problems.”

-Ann Doss Helms, education reporter for The Charlotte Observer

On school vouchers

“The general assembly has made efforts to expand vouchers or opportunity scholarships. They’ve also signaled that they intend to continue to expand the program. This year they allocated $44.8 million which is set to increase by $10 million each year over the next ten years. Families are being affect by this new school environment and option in the education space. There are factors outside the class room like transportation that are just as important inside when it comes to the health and achievement of North Carolina students.”

-Liz Bell, reporter for Education NC

“Opportunity scholarships are up to $4,200 a year for families who fit within the low to moderate income lines. This will cover some of the tuition at most schools. The big elite schools in Charlotte don’t participate.”

-Ann Doss Helms, education reporter for The Charlotte Observer

The State Board of Education vs Superintendent Mark Johnson vs. The State

“This lawsuit is important because it asks “who is in charge.” This isn’t the first time similar constitutional questions have been asked. In 2009, June Atkinson had some of the same concerns Johnson has now. It’s important for the people of North Carolina to have a clear answer as to who they can turn to and who they can hold accountable for what’s coming out of Raleigh.”

-Liz Bell, reporter for Education NC

Guests:

Ann Doss Helms, education reporter for The Charlotte Observer

Liz Bell, reporter for Education NC