Republican attack on public schools

Missing vaccinations: The canary in the rural health care coal mine

This is a systemic failure, not a religious backlash:

Pitt County Schools was forced to suspend a number of students who did not receive vaccines after sending warnings to about 300 as a deadline approached last month, officials said.

State law requires students have standard vaccinations in place 30 days after enrollment unless they have a religious exemption. If students do not have the vaccines, they are suspended until they receive them. The number of suspended students was not available at the meeting. The school system did not respond to subsequent requests to provide the information.

Pitt County is actually in better shape coverage-wise than other regional counties, but when you get outside of Greenville, it doesn't seem that way. The lack of vaccinations signals another troubling issue: A lot of the children are not receiving periodic well-care treatment, and that is unsettling, to say the least:

Major charter school organization leaves 17 NC schools in the lurch

Oregon sugar daddy has apparently turned sour:

An organization that helped set up charter schools in North Carolina and Arizona has lost several of its leaders and cut back on its work, leading two N.C. schools to drop the organization’s services. Now, those schools — which represent about 11,000 students — are wondering what to do next.

The turnover at TeamCFA has created uncertainty around the Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides financial, instructional and management support to 17 charter schools in North Carolina and four schools in Arizona.

I first came a cross John Bryan's name a few years ago during a routine exploration of high-dollar campaign contributions to Republican politicians here in NC, and soon stumbled across the reasons why he had contributed so much. But like many billionaires do, he has apparently lost interest in the cause:

Mark Johnson is in constant Campaign mode

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Abusing the office so he can stay in office:

"I purchase lots of bookmarks. I get free bookmarks from book companies," Burton said. "I don’t need any more bookmarks." But that wasn’t the only thing the Department of Public Instruction sent. Since last year, there have been flyers with Johnson’s picture on them designed to go home with students, posters to go in hallways where he’s posing in with two sheriffs, and emails. Lots and lots of emails.

"We’re getting constant emails from him – email blasts from him," Burton said. "And we never received all that information from Dr. Atkinson before."

It's like Johnson is trying to show his mom how far he can ride his bike with no hands. As if teachers might forget who he is if he doesn't remind them every single day:

NC09 Debate fact-check reveals dismal state of NC teacher pay

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This is why you should wear red for ed:

When moderator Christine Sperow asked the candidates to address the economic concerns of rural farmers, McCready quickly transitioned to Bishop’s performance on teacher pay. McCready argued that the state of public education in North Carolina is harming rural North Carolinians just as much as the Trump administration’s trade policies. “We have got to be investing in our public schools,” McCready said, “alongside taking on China, to make life better for so many people.”

Bishop interjected, saying he supported teacher pay increases in the state budget for five consecutive years. A sixth and seventh consecutive raise would be possible, Bishop said, if Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper hadn’t vetoed this year’s state budget. Bishop is right — the past five budgets have increased teacher pay — but critics say these raises weren’t enough.

While Congress has zero impact on NC teacher pay, this is a legitimate debate point because it reveals how ineffective Bishop (and his GOP colleagues) have been in managing critical state policies and programs. And these numbers can't be harped on enough:

Drilling down into Gov. Cooper's Veto of Read to Achieve reboot

An expensive boondoggle, by any other name:

The state has put more than $150 million into the program to date, and a study last year by North Carolina State University found no gains for the first year of students involved.

"Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly," Cooper said in his veto message. "This legislation tries to put a Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed."

It has failed. Not "performed below our expectations," but failed, miserably. NC State followed two separate cohorts of students who took part in the RtA program, and detected virtually no improvement with them as compared to those who did not take part:

NC's Innovative School District program suffering mysterious turnover rate

And nobody wants to fess up as to the causes:

LaTeesa Allen took over as superintendent of the ISD after Eric Hall, the first superintendent, left for a job in Florida. That was February. In response to inquiries from EducationNC, Dave Prickett, head of communications for the ISD, said that Allen’s last day was June 28. That is all he said. Meanwhile, in addition to Allen’s departure, the principal of the sole ISD school — Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County — has also left.

In interviews for an article about Southside-Ashpole published in March on EducationNC, neither Major nor Allen gave any indication that they were thinking about leaving.

"Rats fleeing a sinking ship" comes to mind, but it could also be something as simple as a management company being too tight with resources. That second thing has always concerned me about Charter Schools, because the governing boards are usually made up of business people, as opposed to educators, and cutting costs *always* emerges as a top priority with those folks. But honestly, the very nature of the ISD approach is wrong-headed, and amounts to a hostile takeover of public schools:

Friday with Ferrel: Education isn't enough

We need to widen the discussion if we want better results:

“Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Wilmington are also expected to be the only three regions with more than half of the new jobs earning $30,000 or more in annual median wages,” say the Commerce analysts. “For remaining regions, most of the new jobs are expected to be at the lower end of the pay scale (less than $30,000).”

I'm jumping around a little bit here, but a good (long) look at economics in the overall child development picture is long overdue. That new jobs prediction above is pretty bleak, but it looks even worse when you consider a substantial number of those jobs will place families directly into the Medicaid coverage gap. In other words, despite all the cheerleading coming from Republicans and their consultants, things are getting much worse for those in the lower-middle. And that has a direct and profound impact on student performance:

Mark Johnson's "ClassWallet" program is a costly boondoggle

Somebody should design an app to detect idiots:

Several influential Republican lawmakers and GOP State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Wednesday the creation of the N.C. Teacher Classroom Supply Program that would be funded by new legislation requiring school districts to transfer $400 to each teacher. If passed, educators would use the ClassWallet app to spend the money and to submit reimbursements for supplies they purchase.

“Giving teachers the maximum control over classroom supply funds is the ultimate local control,” Johnson said at a news conference. “Teachers can be nimble and they can use these funds to buy what they need, when they need it.”

This is even worse than we initially thought. If that money was given directly to teachers, they could pool their resources and make larger (bulk) purchases, and/or contribute to local businesses. But being forced to use an app restricts their choices, and allows for the (huge) inflation of prices. Don't just take my word for it, listen to the teacher:

Teaching supplies "shell game" criticized by education leaders

Robbing from Peter to pay Paul could make matters worse:

After Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson backed a bill Wednesday that would shift money from school districts to give teachers $400 each for classroom supply needs, several State Board of Education members expressed issues Thursday with the bill’s potential consequences for districts.

Both teacher advisors on the board, 2017 Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin and 2018 Teacher of the Year Freebird McKinney, were vocal Wednesday about their opposition to Senate Bill 580, saying the reallocation of the money would take away resources districts need to buy supplies and equipment in bulk. Thursday, board member Jill Camnitz said she agrees with the advisors’ sentiments.

Not only is Mark Johnson not qualified to be NC's SuperNintendo, he apparently has a damn short memory. Just last Summer, he took money that was supposed to be disbursed to individual teachers and bought a bunch of IPads with it:

GOP school privatization scheme: Overfund, then loosen rules

Phil Berger is Public (schools) Enemy Number One:

Opportunity Scholarships, approved in 2013, provide up to $4,200 a year to help low-income parents send their children to private schools. The program has never used all the money allocated, leaving millions unspent each year, but a spending plan approved in 2017 calls for increasing the budget by $10 million a year through 2027, the Observer recently reported.

“We’ve got substantial demand,” Berger said. “I think the growth that’s currently built into the program is something that we don’t need to go backwards on.” Although he acknowledged that there haven’t been enough eligible applicants to claim all the money budgeted, he said that’s not a reason to rein in spending. “I think it’s reason to maybe modify the rules,” he said.

I take very little satisfaction that I predicted just that a few weeks ago. It was almost inevitable, considering how unethical Republicans can be when engineering their pet projects. I also take little satisfaction in being proved right RE my concerns about Joel Ford:

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