Archives by: Kris Nordstrom

Kris Nordstrom

Kris Nordstrom's articles and posts

Progressive Voices Top Story

New report highlights General Assembly’s failed record on higher education

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a nonpartisan organization that provides independent data and policy recommendations to its 16 member states in the southeast, has published new state-specific data on college affordability that paint a damning picture of the General Assembly’s record. The report shows that both cost of attendance and student loan debt have risen dramatically from 2008 to 2014. These increases disproportionately create barriers to economic advancement for students of color and students from low-income families.

North Carolina’s constitution places a very important responsibility on the General Assembly. State leaders are required to provide higher education for free “as far as practicable.” Article IX, Section 9 reads:

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Legislature creates school funding task force, but appears unwilling and unable to seriously examine NC’s school funding needs

Last week, the General Assembly announced which legislators will serve on the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform. The Task Force, created via the 2017 budget bill, is charged with developing recommendations to radically overhaul North Carolina’s school finance system. A serious review of North Carolina’s school finance system could substantially benefit the state. School funding matters, particularly for students in low-income families. Unfortunately, early indications suggest that the Task Force is uninterested in reforms that would actually improve educational delivery in the state.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

As new school year commences, shortage of basic supplies demonstrates legislature’s failure to invest

This week marks the beginning of the school year for most of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students. It’s an exciting time of year for students, parents, and educators, alike, as everyone considers the vast potential for the year ahead. Undoubtedly, this will be a great year for many students. But far too many North Carolina students still face barriers to reaching their full potential due to the General Assembly’s continuing failure to adequately fund our public schools.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

General Assembly should repeal poorly-constructed and misnamed education savings accounts program

Now that the lackluster, uninspiring, harmful, disappointing, and misguided public school budget has become law, it is time to look towards next year’s priorities. By failing to adequately address the needs of our public schools in the 2017 budget, General Assembly leaders have much work to do in 2018. Any 2018 education agenda should focus on restoring adequate funding to our schools, increasing efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of educators, and providing the necessary supports to give low-income students the tools needed to succeed.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Poor, rural schools likely the big losers with lawmakers’ planned cuts to central office staff

Among the elements necessary for a well-functioning school district, central office staff is often overlooked. However, a functioning central office is vital. These professionals ensure that money is spent in accordance with the law, provide technical assistance to ...
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Education Top Story

General Assembly must still provide $293 million in teacher money to settle class-size debate

On April 27th, the General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, House Bill 13, bringing a temporary reprieve to North Carolina’s great class-size debate. The bill delayed the unfunded class-size requirements by one year, preserving elementary school students’ access to “enhancement courses” such as art, music, technology, and physical education for the 2017-18 school year.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

There’s no time to waste in addressing NC’s self-inflicted class size crisis

To casual observers, the recent controversy surrounding public school class-size mandates in grades K-3 might seem a bit confusing. The traditional roles seem reversed: the Republican General Assembly is advocating for smaller classes next school year against the pleas of public school advocates. When you throw in a bunch of confusing budget terms like allotment ratios, enhancement teachers, and accusations of misspent funds, the issue is muddied further. Please allow me to cut through the muck.

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Must Reads News

Class-size chaos

Controversy over class-size requirements in early grades has emerged as the biggest issue facing North Carolina’s public schools in the 2017 legislative session. Current law requires school districts (also known as local education agencies, or LEAs) to reduce class sizes in grades K-3 in the upcoming 2017-18 school year. However, the General Assembly has failed to provide the funding necessary to allow districts to meet the class size goals. Absent General Assembly action, districts are scrambling to meet the requirements by initiating layoffs and eliminating enhancement teaching positions in subjects like art, physical education, and music.

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Featured Articles Progressive Voices

The cuts keep coming: More damning data on the state of NC public school funding

A recent lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer editorial “NC GOP leaders ignore recession cuts when touting funding increases” makes several good points concerning the state’s declining commitment to funding public schools. As the editorial mentions, legislative leaders’ claims that they have increased spending on public schools are “at once true and deceptive” since they compare today’s spending to the temporary budget reductions implemented in the throes of a historically bad recession.

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Progressive Voices

Why NC is not measuring teacher pay properly (and how we should do it)

Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum understand that teachers are the most important classroom factor when it comes to improving student performance. Unfortunately, their policies over the past decade have failed to reflect this understanding. North Carolina’s average teacher pay ranking has fallen from 22nd in FY 03-04 to 41st in FY 15-16, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs is plummeting.

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