Education

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Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton campaigned in Charlotte Friday to pitch his education plan for the state.  If elected governor, he says he'd push to restore education funding lawmakers cut in recent years.  That includes pre-kindergarten programs that prepare needy children for school.  It also includes raising teacher salaries over four years to the national average of $56,000.   

Leaders of nine CMS schools on Charlotte's west side are considering going to a year-round school calendar, but they want to get the go ahead from parents and teachers.  The schools are part of Project LIFT, a public-private partnership to improve student learning at these schools.  Project LIFT is holding three community meetings over the next two weeks to gauge whether parents support the idea.  If the answer is an overwhelming no, Project LIFT's community engagement coordinator Brandi Williams says they'll drop it. 

About 15,000 kids a year drop out of North Carolina schools.  In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the number is about 1,500.  School social workers have long made house calls to many kids who simply stop showing up at school.  They try to figure out why the child left, get them help, and show them ways they can catch up. 

This is a sensitive situation.  Imagine you're a kid who has given up on school and then a social worker shows up on your doorstep. 

"I've had families look through the blinds and not come to the door," says Heidi Berger, a CMS social worker.  

This week on Morning Edition, WFAE’s Lisa Miller took a look at the charter school movement. We will be seeing a lot more of those because the legislature has lifted a cap that had limited the state to 100 charter schools. Now, 25 are getting ready to open next year. Seven of them are in the Charlotte area.

This is the second in a two-part series that takes a closer look at the charter school movement.

North Carolina will soon see a rush of charter schools opening.  Last year, state lawmakers lifted the cap that only allowed 100 schools.  Twenty-five more charter schools are scheduled to open next year.  But this year, for the first time, the state closed a charter school for academic reasons.  

That school was Highland Charter, an elementary school in Gastonia.  Kids there failed to make the grade on end-of-year tests two years in a row. 

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools offered the first round of data last night on the impact of closing 10 schools last year.  The closures will save the district money, but it's unclear how they've affected academics. 

Two years ago, the CMS board voted to close the schools, saying it would save money and create better learning environments.  Last night, the district provided a whole slew of information to begin to see if that was the case.  Superintendent Heath Morrison pointed out the academic data isn't straight-forward. 

Lisa Miller

This is the first in a two-part series that takes a closer look at the charter school movement

Big changes are underway for charter schools in North Carolina.  Last year state lawmakers lifted the 100 school cap.  And now 25 groups are scrambling to open charters in time for next school year.  Seven are in the Charlotte area.  That same law made it easier to close a charter school by requiring they meet certain academic standards.  The state closed one charter this summer and more could close next year.  

UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp Announces Resignation

Sep 17, 2012
UNC.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp is resigning. The announcement comes just a few days after UNC’s Board of Governors said it still supported Thorp despite a series of troubles during his tenure.

Thorp kept his job – and the support of his bosses – during a two-year stretch that included a football scandal, an academic scandal and, finally, a fundraising scandal.

The Northwest School of the Arts is the first high school in North Carolina to have the rights to put on a high school production of the Broadway musical "The Color Purple." The play is based on the 1982 Pulitzer-Prize winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker, centered on the story of a black woman’s struggle to find her identity while overcoming abusive family relationships. 

Mekhai Lee, a junior at Northwest, plays the male lead of Mister. He sings from inside a shop set in rural Georgia in the early twentieth century.

New Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison has said improving teacher morale is one of his top priorities.  He's hired an outside consultant to survey employees about morale in schools. 

Morrison has gotten an earful about low teacher morale in the district since he arrived.  He's asked teachers to come to town hall meetings to get their perspectives.  Now, he wants all employees to take a survey that attempts to answer these questions. 

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