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Public School Forum Releases Top Ten Education Issues 2016

posted Jan 21, 2016, 12:39 PM by JODIE BRYANT   [ updated Feb 1, 2016, 10:40 AM ]
As we enter 2016, it’s important for us to look ahead at what a new year will bring us in terms of education.  The Public School Forum of NC has released their Top 10 Education Issues for 2016 (see attached).  Last year, there was a lot of uncertainty – specifically in terms of funding.  This year, among the Top 10 issues are: increased resources for schools, teacher recruitment to NC, fixing the broken A-F grading system, supporting struggling schools, and expanding early childhood education.  

Let’s begin with increased resources for schools.  Currently, North Carolina is 43rd in the nation for per-pupil spending.  Even the best teachers cannot perform optimally with little to no supplies.  We must also keep in mind our need to attract and retain the best teachers.  North Carolina needs to make a greater investment in public education in order for us to recruit (and keep) the best and brightest, as well as enable them to provide effective classroom instruction.

While on the topic of increased funding, let’s address teacher salaries.  Last year, we saw a raise for beginning teachers.  This year, we hope to see a larger, more significant raise for teachers across the board.  North Carolina ranks 42nd nationally in teacher pay.  Our teachers are responsible for shaping and molding the minds of our future leaders, doctors, professors – our entire nation.  Shouldn’t they be compensated accordingly for the tremendous work they are doing? We must respect the teaching profession, beginning with a respectable salary.

Low performing schools – we’ve all read or heard about this.  North Carolina went from having 118 low performing schools to 581, after a change in state law in 2015. State funding dedicated to turning around these low performing schools would only support about 79 schools.  This year, we hope the General Assembly will look carefully at - if we’re going to define this large new pool of schools as low-performing - what we are going to do to help turn them around.  Part of this conversation also goes back to the broken A-F grading system, which feeds our definition of what a low performing school is.  This formula needs to be revisited and tweaked to be more representative of student growth.  

Lastly, we are hopeful that early childhood education will see more attention this year.  Legislators are becoming more and more convinced of what we as educators already know, which is that the early years matter a lot.  If we’re going to reach reading proficiency by 3rd grade, we need to reach students early and often.  Expanding Pre-K and doubling down in early childhood years is extremely important.

I encourage everyone to read through the entire list of the Top 10 Education Issues in NC for 2016 (see attached), keeping in mind why you are an educator.  As an educator, you are giving each of your students the opportunity to transform their future and change the world.  This is a tremendous task, and it’s one that you should be highly respected for taking on. Stay informed and be the voice for change in public education.