Last week, North Carolina Superintendent of Schools Mark Johnson rolled out “NC 2030,” which is a plan to make the state the “best place to learn and teach by 2030.”
“By 2030, North Carolina can be the best place to begin school, the best place to learn and the best place to teach,” Johnson said in a press release. “Today we present an ambitious but achievable plan to get there. Our educators are doing their part. It will take innovation and leadership to make it happen.”
The NC 2030 plan will be measured by increasing activity in four areas:
- Expanding Pre-K opportunities for 4-year olds
- Fourth graders reading on grade level
- Students who, after graduation, are on track to their chosen, fulfilling career
- Recruits to education professions and educators remaining in N.C. public schools
Increasing pre-k slots, reducing testing, increasing so-called ‘personalized’ learning, and an emphasis on “Career pathways” were included in the detailed list of Johnson’s legislative priorities.
Missing from NC 2030 is the full discontinuation of the Common Core State Standards, which Johnson campaigned on in 2016. What Johnson does suggest is dismantling just the use of Common Core Math:
Allow a working group of districts to opt out of the N.C. Mathematics Standard Course of Study through a pilot study using clear, rigorous, and results-driven math standards and personalized-learning tools.
In an attempt to quell parent and teacher protests over the standards, Johnson’s predecessor, Dr. June Atkinson, renamed the standards as the “N.C. Standard Course of Study.”
Johnson does not make the call to remove the English Language Arts component in order to achieve his call for the improvement of the state’s 3rd-grade reading initiative (Read to Achieve) that has recently been under fire for being ineffective.
The NC 2030 plan includes teacher pay raises of at least 5 percent but suggests that a 7 percent increase for all teachers would “further promote the competitiveness of teacher salary” in the state. Additional compensation for teacher leaders and advanced teaching roles is also proposed, as well as raising principal pay to be competitive with neighboring states.
Johnson’s plan calls for increases to funding for textbooks/digital media. He also wants to give teachers “direct control over the use of state funding for classroom supplies.” The only problem with that idea is that once the money is transferred, the districts are the ones who control how allotments are spent, not the state.
Continue the current 15-point grading scale to support consistent evaluation of performance and growth (as opposed to switching to a 10-point scale). Allow a waiver for class size by the state superintendent in case a local district has sufficiently demonstrated they are unable to find qualified teachers to meet requirements.
North Carolina’s schools are currently on a 10 point grading scale. Johnson’s NC 2030 plan wants to see that change to a 15 point plan – which mirrors to Democrat-filed bills in the state legislature. By expanding the grading scale, more schools that are currently receiving ‘failing’ grades would be seen as ‘passing.’
To support NC 2030, two more initiatives were announced.
An online tool called the North Carolina Leadership Dashboard is being built by the Wallace Foundation for superintendents and charter school directors. This tool is intended for school leaders to “support their human capital strategies with real-time data.” Johnson indicated that this took will be available for use during the 2019-2020 school year.
“We need leadership to come together to make this happen,” Johnson said. “Public education is too important to continue the status quo in North Carolina.”
The second announcement involves a “collaboration” called “Teach NC” that includes the Department of Public Instruction, BEST NC, and Teach.org.
BEST NC claims to be “a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of business leaders committed to improving North Carolina’s education system through policy and advocacy.”
BEST NC is well known for its North Carolina education data and statistic packages. Less well known is the group’s behind the scenes involvement in a campaign led by the NC Chamber of Commerce and partisan run education non-profits to torpedo a 2014 legislature-created commission tasked with replacing Common Core.
TEACH.org is a “501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, led by Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Education.”
According to the press release, “Teach NC” will launch this spring and is a “public-private teacher appreciation campaign to better align the image of the teaching profession with the fruitful, fulfilling career it is and develop a statewide teacher-recruitment system to attract the next generation of North Carolina teachers.”
“Teach NC” will involve “support,” likely in the form of grants, coming from the Belk Foundation, Coastal Credit Union, and from the largest financial supporter of Common Core, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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A.P. Dillon is the North Carolina Bureau Chief for The Tennesee Star and a reporter at Battleground State News. Follow A.P. Dillon on Twitter. Email Tips to [email protected].
Photos “North Carolina Superintendent of Schools Mark Johnson” by Mark Johnson.