North Carolina is at a crossroads in education.
No, it’s not because it’s an election year.
It’s because on December 10, 2015, the Federal Government gave states a new level of control and autonomy over their schools with ESSA, the “Every Student Succeeds Act.” ESSA replaces “No Child Left Behind,” legislation.
This lifted many federal requirements, and now states need to ask community members how they should evaluate students, teachers, and schools before they settle on a new accountability plan. North Carolina is collecting feedback between now and June.
Charlotte residents have a chance to weigh in on what’s important to them on Tuesday (April 26) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Mallard Creek High School. I hope the crowd is so large the fire marshall needs to attend.
Before I became the director of the Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network I received an email from a friend on the first release of “school grades.” (Each school in North Carolina is given an A-F grade based 80% on school performance and 20% on school growth. You can find Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s grades here.) We discussed whether it was more important to invest time and money creating a “safe” school or an academically successful school. We didn’t have a collective agreement on what the characteristics of a “good” school are, or on how schools should be judged.
With Tuesday’s event, everyone in Charlotte has the opportunity to share what’s most important to them in a school, what makes a school “good” versus “bad,” how low-performing schools should be assisted, and how successful schools should be celebrated. This is a unique chance to have your thoughts incorporated into the state’s new education roadmap.
If you’re a parent or an educator, the connection between your role and the accountability plan for public schools might be clear. No matter what category you fall in, however, your support and input is needed, required, and valued.
If you pay state taxes, you might have an opinion on how those funds are used to increase school performance. If a school is considered “low-performing” what kind of supports should it receive? Should its principal be replaced? Should it receive supplements to attract or retain high performing teachers? If you’re interested in how local money is used, read more here.
The way a school is measured, perceived, and supported doesn’t just affect parents and students. Consider how people evaluate the value of a new home — it’s no surprise that even those without children justify the higher home values of Myers Park or south Charlotte because of the reputation of the assigned home schools. If you own a home or are considering purchasing a home in the next few years, you should attend this event.
What do you expect from a school? Preparation for the workforce? College readiness? These answers have clear implications for employers at every level, so anyone who works with or employs the products of North Carolina public schools should offer their opinion on how the state holds schools accountable.
The global citizen
Maybe you don’t fall into any of these categories, but you do care about things like equity and doing right by all children. I implore you to consider how the public school system can provide economic opportunity and a sustainable future for children across demographics. What supports do public schools need to make this ideal vision of public schooling a reality?
My day-to-day “job” is helping teachers have a greater role in policy development and implementation. Better policy is made when those affected by a decision are included in the decision-making process. When it comes to evaluating local schools, everyone is impacted. Help North Carolina make the best decisions it can by representing Charlotte and sharing your voice on Tuesday night.
Note: Unfortunately, the timing of this event conflicts with the standard workday. If you can’t make it and have thoughts to share, visit: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/newsroom/lets-talk/ or email Charlotte’s North Carolina Teacher Voice Network Fellow Hilary Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more about NCDPI’s ESSA Public Comment Sessions here.