Volume 10 No 1 Fall 2013
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Around North Carolina: ESL in the News


Protest Against Common Core Hits NC

A battle against the new Common Core education standards has been spreading across the nation like a summer wildfire, and it's now headed to North Carolina. Governors in Indiana and Pennsylvania have hit pause buttons, and the state Senate in Michigan approved a budget that would prohibit funding for Common Core implementation. Now North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest posted a nearly four-minute video on YouTube, titled "My Concerns with Common Core." In it, he said he has serious qualms about the state's "rush to implement" the K-12 standard. Common Core is a relatively new cause célèbre for tea party groups and conservative talk show hosts such as Glenn Beck, who has zeroed in on what he calls "scary" and "insidious" data collection on children through Common Core.

June Atkinson, NC Superintendent of Public Instruction remarked: "I am so disappointed people would want to make this a political football. If we stopped implementation of the Common Core - this is the first year - our teachers would be in a tizzy."
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Legislative Committee Scrutinizes CCSS


State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson talks with Rep. Larry
Pittman after a joint legislative committee meeting on the use of the CCSS.
Image: Chris Seward, N&O

A joint legislative committee charged with scrutinizing the new Common Core standards used in North Carolina schools for math and English held its first meeting Tuesday and the talk quickly turned to overhauling or dumping them. All but five states have adopted Common Core, but it has increasingly come under attack, particularly from conservatives, and some states are now considering dropping the standards. The opposition led legislative leaders to create the committee.

"'Common Core' in my neck of the woods is poison language," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, an Archdale Republican and retired school administrator.
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Gov. McCrory: Public School Students Take Too Many Tests

Gov. Pat McCrory believes that public school students take too many tests, and he has asked his education policy adviser to determine whether they are all necessary.

McCrory said he met with a group of district superintendents last week, and they uniformly complained about the testing load, the cost, and the drain on instructional time.

State Board of Education Vice Chairman A.L. "Buddy" Collins questioned the time taken for testing, saying that two high school principals told him that their schools spend 20 days a year on tests. Those 20 days represent lost instructional time, Collins said

Eric Guckian, McCrory's senior education adviser, said tests need to be "fewer and deeper." He'll deliver a report on testing at the end of the summer.
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Why McCrory Believes NC Teaching Has Too Many Tests

Eric Guckian, senior education adviser to Gov. Pat McCrory,
points out that the number of tests administered to students in grades four through 12 is approaching 200 across the state. After reviewing the state's testing, as directed by Gov. McCrory, he recommends taking a "fewer and deeper" approach. He warns that excessive testing may take a lot of time and talent away from classroom instruction and rob teachers of the time they need to develop meaningful relationships with parents and students. Administering and compiling excessive test results also saps teacher creativity and motivation. He fears that some of the state's best teachers may leave the profession, adding that there is evidence that this is happening at increasingly alarming rates.
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State Board of Education Sets Standards for Diplomas

High school graduates will have seals on their diplomas in a few years showing whether they are ready for work or college under new criteria adopted by the State Board of Education. The board set out three paths for students earning seals on their diplomas: career, community college and four-year university.
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No More Hardcopy Texts after 2017

Gov. Pat McCrory signed two bills in March dealing with digital learning and technology.
One signals the state's intention to transition from funding textbooks to digital materials by 2017, the other directs the State Board of Education to develop and implement digital learning standards for teachers and administrators.

"This legislation will help fundamentally transform the way our children learn in our schools through technology," McCrory said in a statement.
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Report Lauds North Carolina's Progress on Race to the Top

Federal education officials offered praise for North Carolina's progress on school reform and improvement at the halfway mark of the nearly $400 million Race to the Top grant. The four-year grant, awarded in summer 2010, has entered its third year.

North Carolina, Tennessee and Rhode Island were singled out as the most successful by federal officials who reviewed the dozen states and the District of Columbia that received federal grants in the early rounds of the Race to the Top competition.

"North Carolina has set a clear path forward on comprehensive education reform that will better support teachers and principals and enable student growth for years to come," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.
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Lawsuit challenges vouchers for NC private schools
The battle over private school vouchers in North Carolina is headed to court. Twenty-five plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court, calling the state's voucher program an unconstitutional assault on public education. The diverse group includes parents, teachers, clergy and well-known names such as Mike Ward, former state schools superintendent, and Judy Chambers, the daughter of the late civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers.

Sponsored by the N.C. Association of Educators and the N.C. Justice Center, a left-leaning advocacy group, the lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop the tuition grants before they start in 2014.
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North Carolina School a Standout for Bilingual Education

A North Carolina school has become a national model for its bilingual curriculum that offers students of different origins an education in both English and Spanish.

When the eighth-grade students at Charlotte's Collinswood Language Academy finish their classes next month they will be the first group to complete one of the most innovative programs for bilingual education in the United States.
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North Carolina Again Leads Nation in NBCT

North Carolina added 330 newly-credentialed teachers in 2013 to its National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) cadre. This brings the state's total number of NBCTs to 20,122, and once again places North Carolina first in the nation.
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