Week One in Raleigh: And they’re off …

A week into the so-called short session of the N.C. General Assembly, people who predicted that education issues would take up a lot of floor space can go to the head of the class. Right off the bat, legislators tossed into the hopper 19 bills that could have an impact on how kids go to school and how education works in North Carolina. Here’s a quick look at just a little of what’s happening in Raleigh after Week One:
— HB 1062: Replace Common Core to Meet NC’s Needs. That didn’t take long, did it? The bill was drafted in April after a legislative commission recommended NC pull the plug on educational standards in place for the past four years. The bill would require new standards that “meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities” and would set up a 17-member commission to write the curriculum guide. Twelve of those members would be appointed by legislative officers. The bill http://tinyurl.com/qj2zwmb is now in the House Education Committee on its way to Appropriations. If it successfully exits the legislature (which it has a good chance of doing) and gets the governor’s signature (another good chance), Common Core could be history by July, though those standards would remain in effect until a new curriculum guide is approved.
There’s a lot to talk about here — backtracking by Republicans who supported Common Core before it became known as Obamacore, how ditching Common Core didn’t satisfy anybody in Indiana, flushing four years of teacher training and all the money that cost down the drain — and we’ll get around to it. But we suspect most of the conversation in the Legislative Building will be about a state’s right to set its own standards, not about how well the so-called national standards work or anything else that would tell us that legislators actually understand Common Core.
— SB 787: Teacher Funds Must be 51% of School Budget. This bill aims to do exactly what its title says, and it’s still a bad idea. (See May 16 post.) It was filed Friday, so no action yet.
— HB 1063: Restore Teacher Cadet Funds. This bill http://tinyurl.com/qj2zwmb is an effort to put back in the budget money ($340,000 for FY2014-2015) for a recruitment program to encourage high school students to become educators. That program was dropped last year. Interestingly, both House members who represent Lenoir County — Republican John Bell and Democrat George Graham — are on board as sponsors. The bill is in the Appropriations Committee.
— HB 1075: Repeal Opportunity Scholarships. Another try at righting past wrongs, the bill http://tinyurl.com/lgcmpt5 would end “opportunity scholarships,” which in regular speak are vouchers by which families of limited means would get public money to sent their children to private schools. The voucher program, OK’d during the first year of this session, hasn’t really gotten off the ground yet because of legal challenges, but last week the NC Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on the injunction prohibiting implementation. That means the program can go forward while the original lawsuit is argued in Superior Court. Rep. Graham is a sponsor of this bill as well.
For a look at other legislation, including five bills that could impact charter schools, go to this excellent summary put together by Public Schools First NC http://tinyurl.com/mhb8zf7