Archives by: Billy Ball

Billy Ball

About the author

Billy Ball, Education Reporter, joined N.C. Policy Watch in January 2016. He covers public education at the N.C. General Assembly and the State Board of Education. Before joining the project, Billy was a staff writer and investigative reporter for the Independent Weekly for more than three years, covering education, the environment, politics and the criminal justice system. Before that, Billy served as a general assignment reporter for the Sanford Herald and the Monroe Enquirer-Journal.
billy@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-1460

Billy Ball's articles and posts

Education Featured Articles

Raleigh-based charter school threatened students with expulsion in apparent violation of state law

Longleaf School of the Arts is less than four years old, but the charter school—housed in an old downtown Raleigh church, complete with stained-glass windows—has an air of antiquity about it.

Midterms are underway, and students pack the halls while Rachel Davis, head of school, ushers buzzing teens to their classrooms. Davis, an eminently cheerful woman, occupies a busy corner office crammed with boxed records.

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Education Featured Articles

New Superintendent of Public Instruction highlights urgent need to transform “outdated” school system

Pledging to “transform” North Carolina public schools, new Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson told members of the State Board of Education Thursday that he believes the state’s system of schooling is “outdated.”

“I will be generous and say that this system was designed for students in the 1950s,” Johnson said. “I will be generous because you could probably trace this system back to the 1920s or even earlier.”

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Education Featured Articles

Public school advocates welcome “champion” in the Executive Mansion, offer advice on the challenges Cooper will face

The N.C. Association of Educators was one of the first major political advocacy groups to side with Roy Cooper.

So when news spread over social media Monday that Gov. Pat McCrory had at last conceded a bitterly contested gubernatorial race to Cooper—three weeks and six days after Election Day—it’s fitting that the 70,000-member political arm of teachers across North Carolina was one of the first to trumpet the news.

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Education Featured Articles

Legislators shift gears, back away from controversial pay plan for school principals, administrators

Weeks after a legislative plan to scrap North Carolina’s school principal pay schedule drew a swift rebuke from educators, top state Republicans are seemingly backing off on the controversial proposal while pushing forward with at least modest raises for the state’s underpaid administrators.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, an influential state Republican representing Moore and Randolph counties, told lawmakers in an administrator pay study group this week that district superintendents across the state were “scared” of a proposal floated by lawmakers last month that would have done away with the salary schedule—which sets a floor for pay based on experience and credentials.

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Education

North Carolina school leaders, advocates work to address immigrants’ fears following caustic campaign season

The day after President-elect Trump’s triumph was a day to remember, says Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, president and CEO of El Centro Hispano, one of North Carolina’s largest Latino advocacy and support organizations.

Immigrant children, undocumented and documented, were afraid to return to school. They feared deportation or bullying by their peers, says Rocha-Goldberg, after a presidential election noted for its particularly caustic tone toward immigrants.

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Education Featured Articles

Virtual charters continue to be plagued by high dropout rates, low student performance

State education leaders may be reporting lackluster grades and soaring dropout rates in two new virtual charter schools in North Carolina, but customers, by and large, seem satisfied. That’s the synopsis of a draft report on North Carolina’s virtual charter pilot, which includes two schools, N.C. Virtual Academy and N.C. Connections Academy, run by for-profit companies K-12 Inc. and Pearson, respectively.

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Education Featured Articles

New rules to lower class sizes force stark choices, threatening the arts, music and P.E

North Carolina public school leaders say a legislative mandate to decrease class sizes in the early grades may have a devastating impact on school systems across the state, forcing districts to spend millions more hiring teachers or cut scores of positions for those teaching “specialty” subjects such as arts, music and physical education.

“All 115 districts in the state, this is a problem,” says Leanne Winner, director of governmental relations for the N.C. School Boards Association, a group that represents local boards of education at the legislature.

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Education

A reversal of fortune?

Governor's budget writers backtrack on 2% reduction; education advocates suggest tight re-election battle may be the motivating factor

North Carolina officials say they have been assured by one of Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget chiefs that a controversial directive to ready a $173 million budget cut will not apply to the state’s public schools.

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Education Featured Articles

Ranked 49th in principal pay, lawmakers who haven’t funded raises consider tossing out salary schedule

School administrator pay in North Carolina is dismal, says Frank Till Jr., superintendent of Cumberland County Schools, but a new legislative call to alleviate the problem by completely nixing the state’s principal salary scale could be disastrous.

“Without a salary schedule, it means we’d have to negotiate every single principal’s salary,” complains Till. “It would lead to inequities. You would open yourself up to a variety of things.”

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Education Featured Articles

State Board of Ed chair to charter advisory panel: “Not so fast”

Just days after a key North Carolina charter panel recommended sweeping changes to how State Board of Education (SBE) members hear charter school applications, state board Chairman Bill Cobey said charter advocates aren't likely to get their way on at least one major point.

Cobey spoke to Policy Watch this week, four days after members of the Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB) suggested prospective charters approved by at least 75 percent of the panel be tucked into the state board's consent agenda.

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