Archives by: Kris Nordstrom

Kris Nordstrom

Kris Nordstrom's articles and posts

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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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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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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Audit of Achievement School District in Tennessee raises more red flags for NC

A new report from Tennessee’s Division of State Audit has ominous implications for a newly-created education program in North Carolina. The report details the gross financial mismanagement of Tennessee’s Achievement School District (ASD) – a plan that turned control of low-performing schools to private charter school operators. North Carolina passed its own version of the ASD program this summer, with Governor McCrory quietly signing the controversial bill three weeks ago.

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The truth about NC education spending

Fact check shows Pope-Civitas Institute used backwards math to tell false story on public schools budgets

A recent post from Bob Luebke at the right-wing Pope-Civitas Institute incorrectly argues that spending on public schools has increased since Republicans took control of the North Carolina General Assembly. The post makes the absurd claim that the budget for public schools has increased in both overall and per-pupil spending, even when adjusted for inflation. There is one big problem with this analysis, however: Bob Luebke doesn’t understand how inflation works.

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Do Senate leaders believe their own claims on teacher pay?

Senate leaders made a big splash touting their two-year plan to raise teacher salaries. They held a packed press conference and launched www.NCTeacherRaise.com, the strange website that – in exchange for handing your contact information over to the ...
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Featured Articles Progressive Voices

Virtual charter schools are a bust. So why did the NC House loosen state regulations even further?

Public school students in North Carolina are expected to be able to weigh evidence and make sound, logical decisions based on that evidence. Should we expect the same from our legislators? That was the question before the General Assembly during the recent House Budget debate, as legislators argued whether to pull the plug on virtual charter schools. Virtual charters, authorized as part of the 2014 budget, are for-profit, online schools. With grim results in other states, it's unclear why North Carolina's policymakers are pushing us down the same path.

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