North Carolina Districts Under Legal Fire for Academic Failure

In what will be a landmark quality-of-education lawsuit in August, attorneys will ask for a complete and detailed plan from the North Carolina State Board of Education, which will include timetables for their plan to bring schools into compliance with the basic education mandate from former Supreme Court rulings.

As of now, 56% of all school children in the state are in danger of academic failure. Attorneys for low-income North Carolina schools say that the state has abandoned its commitment to providing students a sound education. The lawyers cite lowering of school budgets, too many low-scoring students, and programs which have been disposed according to Jane Stancill, reporter for the News Observer.

Many of the initiatives, which were mandated in 2008, have been done away with by the state's schools. The case's overseeing judge, Howard Manning, has written a letter in which he states that "way too many thousands of school children have not received an adequate education". Although he is waiting for end-of-school test scores and ACT scores, the Wake County superior judge has issued a warning:

"Notwithstanding the results of these assessments, the State of North Carolina cannot ‘cut and run' from the results by reducing standards and deleting the assessments because they do not bring good news," Manning wrote in his report. "The children of North Carolina have a constitutional right to a sound basic education and the adults who are paid and charged with the responsibility of providing that education in every school and classroom have no valid right to cover up the results of their failure to provide that opportunity, parents and the public included."

The addition of the Common Core, a call for higher education standards, has not improved on-going "dismal test results". State legislators recommended replacing the standards, and have dropped 8 of the 11 end-of-course tests since 2000.
In a violation of the Supreme Court ruling, the state has watered down or removed strategies such as smaller class sizes, more time instructing, well-trained teachers, early childhood programs, and improved professional development.
Judge Manning believes that students who are reading well by the end of third grade have a better chance at educational success. He added that teachers have the tools to make this happen. They have access to the Read to Achieve course, a format that includes frequent informal testing, but the tools are not being used correctly. Those opposed to this type of reading program say that it puts pressure on students and could result in an aversion to reading.
Lawyers for the schools blame years of budget cuts and programs which have been jettisoned for the low North Carolina school's student scores, reports the Associated Press.
As if North Carolina's education program for K-12 is not under enough pressure, Guilford County Schools in North Carolina are faced with a state law, set to be enforced starting in 2018, that calls for an end to teacher tenure in the state. The state wants to force 25% of teachers who are eligible for tenure, based on previous legislation, to give up the tenure they have already earned. The state School Board's primary concern is that enforcing this kind of action retroactively is unconstitutional.
05 13, 2014
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