CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory says the State’s public universities are not training their students to be able to get a job out of college.
“I believe deeply that places like Carolina—Carolina amongst the best in the nation does that extremely well,” UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said in a WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner.
***Listen to Part IV of WCHL’s News Special with the Chancellor***
Gov. McCrory said he doesn’t want to see the government funding degrees like gender studies that he believes will not get someone a job. (Source: N&O – click here)
However, Chancellor Folt’s message in her early days at UNC has been to not only give the students a wide range of knowledge, but a deep understanding of that knowledge.
“Each one of them has a major—sometimes two majors—that have detailed skills taking them all the way to the forefront of knowledge in that area,” Chancellor Folt said. “And these skills are deeply transferrable.”
And, she said she doesn’t just want to focus on today.
“The skills we want for the future are the skills for students that can prepare themselves, not for the jobs that are sitting there today, but for the jobs and creating the jobs of tomorrow,” Chancellor Folt said. “If you think about digital world, the jobs that our students are getting now didn’t even exist ten of 15 years ago.”
She said Carolina is not struggling with getting students into jobs immediately following college.
“Eighty-five percent of the students that graduate from Carolina within the first year have full-time jobs or are in graduate school,” Chancellor Folt said. “It’s up there at the levels of the highest of our elites; we’ll continue to press forward on that. And I feel proud of what they’re doing post-graduation, and I think they’re going to be the people that are helping to bring new economies into the state.”
You can hear the interview in its entirety on WCHL Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
To read the other articles in this WCHL News Special series with the Chancellor, navigate below.
CHAPEL HILL- Thursday’s release of the state Common Core Standard test results shows areas in which Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools need improvement, but officials say that’s due in part to the fundamental nature of the curriculum changes.
“The demands on students are changing. There’s a lot more writing, there’s a lot more deep reading of the text, so it is not this sort of superficial ‘glean a few things and keep moving,’” says Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s Executive Director of Testing and Program Evaluation, Diane Villwock. She says the new standards require students to adopt a different style of learning to master the material.
“We’re writing in mathematics, we’re writing in science, we’re writing in social studies. People have to have evidence to support their position. It’s a much more rigorous, higher-order thinking skills kind of requirement,” says Vilwock.
She notes that the amount of material covered in the early grades has changed to allow a more in-depth understanding of key concepts.
“From [kindergarten through fourth grade], students are learning basics at a very deep level, so if you’re subtracting, you have to be able to explain why you subtracted, you have to have the numeric understanding behind that, so K-4 is much less content, actually.”
She says once the children reach grades five, six, and seven, the content level increases because they have a foundation on which to build.
North Carolina adopted the Common Core Standards in 2010. The 2012-2013 school year was the first in which the teachers, students, and parents saw them fully implemented in the classroom.
Vilwock says teachers were well prepared for the changes, but nonetheless the district is continuing to work to make sure the transition process is smooth.
“The district has hired a firm out of the University of Pittsburgh called the Institute for Learning and they’ve been working with us last eyar and into this year teaching teachers how to have the instructional methodology that they need.”
The district met the majority of the state and federal proficiency expectations, but economically disadvantaged high school students struggled to meet many of the testing goals.
Officials warn against jumping to conclusions as this is the first year students have been tested using the new standards. Instead, they say this data will form the baseline for comparisons in coming years.
Letter from the Superintendent Regarding Test Results for 2012-13
In the early 1990s I was working at ARCO Chemical Company in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Times were good at ARCO, although that would change. We were making money, dress was formal, and we devoted time and resources to supporting the local community. As part of that effort, I was asked to host a group of high school science and math teachers for a day. I gave them a tour, fed them lunch, and provided a description of the types of science and math skills which were used in my department. At the end of the day one of the teachers asked me this: “We are told by our administrators that we need to train our science and math students to work on collaborative problem solving and team work techniques. Is this important to you?” I paused for a moment and responded, “Really what we need is for you to teach them to get the right answer. You can leave the teamwork lessons to us.” The room erupted into whoops and cheers. It was kinda nice.
If anything, the question of how best to educate our budding scientists and engineers is even more critical today than it was during that long ago session with those teachers. And at least with regard to educating our strongest math students, I think we are on the wrong track.
All of us are born with different subsets of aptitudes. Just like some people are born with a talent for dancing (1) some people are naturally good at math. Math aptitude can be predicted at an early age using some simple tests. For example, if you ask a preschool child look at five coins sitting on a table top and ask her how many there are, a high-performing math student will look at them, see the pattern, and say five. An average-performing math student will count them. Psychologists call these pattern-perceiving skills number sense.
If you want to know if your child has good number sense, play a game of monopoly. If, after rolling the dice, your child moves her playing piece around the board based on the recurring patterns of corners and railroads (it’s all fives and tens) there is strong possibility that attending math olympiads is part of your future. If instead she counts the spaces off one at a time, some different sort of time-consuming parental obligation awaits.
While all students need an appropriate and challenging math education to prepare them for a full and prosperous life and career, the remainder of this column will focus on the education of the high-performing math students who may go on to be scientists and engineers. As I have foreshadowed, I am concerned about how this is being managed.
In order to keep this column at some sort of reasonable length I am going to focus on just one critique(2), the current obsession with making the student “explain how she got the answer”. If you happen to be born with good number sense, this question can be particularly vexing. For example, let’s say I asked you to solve two plus two. You know the answer is four. Now try to explain how you got the answer. Difficult, isn’t it? It’s tempting to say “because it’s four”. For high-performing math students, problems which may sound complex to a general audience, read just like “what is two plus two?” Forcing these students to construct a sentence or two to describe the process that occurred in their head is a frustrating waste of time.
As an analogy, let us again consider someone with a natural ability to dance, someone who can feel the music, anticipate where the music going, and then move his body in a way that evokes the essence of the piece. Imagine now that in the middle of a particularly moving segment of choreography we turn off the music, make the dancer stop, and require him to write down why he chose to move his left foot in front of his right rather than behind. I suspect that it would be difficult for him to explain, detract from his joy of the dance and in no way help him to be a better dancer. It’s no different for the mathematician. You can’t see it, but during the calculations something beautiful is happening in her head. Making her stop to reduce the intuitive to prose is just as disruptive and non-productive as interrupting the dancer.
Unfortunately the authors of the Common Core seem not to agree with me. Here is a passage that appears in the introduction of the new math standards.
There is a world of difference between a student who can summon a mnemonic device to expand a product such as (a + b)(x + y) and a student who can explain where the mnemonic comes from. The student who can explain the rule understands the mathematics, and may have a better chance to succeed at a less familiar task such as expanding (a + b + c)(x + y). Mathematical understanding and procedural skill are equally important, and both are assessable using mathematical tasks of sufficient richness.
The mnemonic being impugned here is FOIL (first, outside, inside, last) which describes which pairs of variables are to be multiplied in (a + b)(x + y). I know how to do this problem but if asked to “explain” this rule, frankly, I would have no idea what to write.
Instead, let’s talk about what “mathematical understanding” means. It is my firm position that it has a lot more to do with the pattern recognitions involved in determining number sense than in being able to write a sentence about the mechanics of division. Further, I believe that math education for those with good number sense should strive to help grow and improve these skills. Let me use the problem above from the Common Core as an example of a pattern recognition approach to math.
At some point early in your math education someone taught you to do the problem below.
a(x +y) = ax + ay
Not long after you learned the one below and were taught the mnemonic FOIL.
(a + b)(x + y) = ax + ay + bx + by
Let me pause to make something clear at this point. In addition to being opposed to making students write a paragraph about how to solve this problem, I am also no fan of mnemonics. The problem above is the solution for how to multiple two binomials. If you can see the underlying pattern, then it is broadly applicable to other situations. This ability to see patterns and apply them to other problems is the essence of mathematical understanding.
Look at the patterns in the two solutions above and now consider the problem (a + b + c)(x + y) which the Common Core holds out as difficult. But if you’ve learned to do the two problems in the previous paragraph, the answer is obvious, whether you have good number sense or not. Furthermore, you also know now how to do (a + b + c +d + e)(x + y + z) or any other problems like this with any number of terms within the parentheses whether or not you’ve ever written a paragraph about it.
Here in the Chapel Hill Carrboro City School District we have a mantra of reaching each child at his or her own level. For our students with good number sense (3) we need to find a way push the Common Core aside and let them get back to dancing.
Have a comment or question? Use the comment interface below or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) Sadly your author was born without this aptitude.
(2) In an earlier, much longer version, of this column I included a lengthy diatribe about math vocabulary. It seems as though over the last several decades text book authors have decided that every step in a mathematical solution should have a unique name. To me this just clutters things up and detracts from math education. It also included a suggestion that calculators be banned from all grades below ninth.
(3) Because I am a person with good number sense, I feel more confident in critiquing the applicability of the Common Core to others with good number sense. However, I would like to share with you my suspicion that its approach is a misfire for all students. Maybe a bit more focus on procedural skill would be a better pathway towards mathematical skill for all.http://chapelboro.com/columns/common-science/the-uncommon-core-of-the-new-math/
CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools face another tough budget cycle for this year and the next, due in part to cuts in funding from the General Assembly. That’s why Board of Education is thinking carefully about contributing $5,000 to a new organization formed by the state School Boards Association, whose agenda some have said could be too political.
At last week’s Board of Education meeting, member Mike Kelley was the first to speak up, in opposition of giving money to the newly-formed N.C. School Boards Association’s Action Center. It was formed as a way to strengthen the local school board’s advocacy efforts.
In a memo to the CHCCS, reps of the Action Center explained that public education and local school board authority was under attack. The memo also clarified that the Action Center will not endorse political candidates or establish a political action committee.
James Barrett said that he didn’t see a problem with more efforts to advocate for education.
“It’s the same work and the same lobbying that we already support with our money,” Barrett said.
The School Boards Association is a 501(c)(3) organization which has limited funds that it can invest “advocacy and grassroots engagement.” The new Action Center was created as a 501(c)(4) and will be able to “generate additional resources for expanded advocacy efforts.”
Kelley said that he agreed with the ideas behind the group, but said it was ultimately the wrong way to use public money to support political agendas.
“We belong to the School Board Association for a variety of reasons, one of which is to have communications with the Legislature,” Kelley said. “I think that is a reasonable thing to do, but to turn into another direction. It has a political agenda.”
Jamezetta Bedford, Vice-Chair of the CHCCS Board, said that she believed there is no harm in using public dollars for the public purpose of advocating for public education.
“I am a politician. It is my job as a school board member to advocate for children just like PTA’s advocate for children,” Bedford said.
Bedford said that she wanted more clarification concerning the Action Center’s budget and bylaws.
Chair Michelle Brownstein agreed, saying that a public conversation was necessary before any action was taken.
“I’ll just say, I would need a whole lot more information to feel comfortable writing a check that certainly had my name on it as the Chair,” she said.
Brownstein decided to table to donation discussion until after the September 18 District Five School Boards Association meeting.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/chccs-boe-contemplating-5k-contribution-to-education-advocacy-center/
Photo by Erik Andersen
CHAPEL HILL – The busiest time of move-in weekend wraps up Sunday and students have been keeping Associate Director Rick Bradley and many others from the Center for Housing and Residential Education busy.
Bradley says a lot of the works done over the summer were improvements in some dorm buildings and preparing for students to arrive.
“We have done some building renovations this summer in a very short turn around time doing some interior room work and bathroom renovations,” Bradley says.
Many students have already moved into their on-campus dorms to prepare for classes starting Tuesday. Bradley says that the students moving in makes it a little chaotic, but somehow an organized process.
“Oh certainly busy, over half of our students are already back, Wednesday really starts kinda the big move-in day,” Bradley says. “But today and tomorrow are big days for our 3200 first year students that are living with us on campus this year.”
Bradley says work for UNC staff in the Center for Housing and Residential Education is just beginning with students moving in. Currently a lot of the work has been done by maintenance, facilities, and house-keeping. But, Bradley says that once the semester begins, other aspects of the job begin too.
“And as we open, a lot of the work just really begins for most our residential education team that does a lot of program activities and activity planning, but in cooperation with some of our academic partners and others, so the work is never ending” said Bradley.
The Center for Housing and Residential Education provides support for new students and helps many students become accustomed to college. For more information, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-wraps-up-move-in-weekend-sunday/
RALEIGH - Progress NC Executive Director, Gerrick Brenner says Governor Pat McCrory’s comment that this year’s education budget is the largest in North Carolina history isn’t fair to say.
“Well there’s a couple of things, one he’s not taking inflation into account, and two he’s not taking enrollment growth into account” said Brenner.
In an email, Communications Director for Gov. McCrory, Kim Genardo says the $7.86 billion for K-12 Education in this year’s budget referrers to the appropriated budget. An email sent out by ProgressNC on Thursday said, “Gov. Pat McCrory mislead the public once again about the education budget he signed into law.” It went on to say that $7.91 billion for K-12 education in ’07-’08 and $8.19 billion in ’08-’09 were greater.
However, Genardo said those numbers are actual budget, which includes additional reserves.
Still, Brenner says, taking inflation into account, the praise of the budget was misleading.
“Actually this education budget is about half a billion dollars less than it was in 2007-2008” Brenner claimed.
Some K-12 schools that received cuts to their budget have tried alternative ways to raise money. Brennar says he heard of a school in PolkCounty that held a fundraising breakfast to go towards school supplies. He also claims that this not an isolated incident.
“All you have to do is do a quick Google search and you can see news stories filtering in from across the state of counties having to cut teachers and teaching assistants” Brenner said.
Brenner says he doesn’t agree with the education budget along with other bills that the Governor passed. He says he thinks that the Governor is “twisting the truth” and is beginning to “stretch credibility.”http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/progressnc-gives-thoughts-on-education-budget/
CHAPEL HILL – Amid budget cuts in North Carolina, your local U.S. Representative, David Price’s bill entitled the Keep Teachers Teaching Act, would allow schools to apply for federal grants to develop programs that aim to keep teachers working in education.
“The strongest local districts and state systems could apply for the funds and then we would disseminate the results,” Price says.
The Congressional Research Service says that half of all K-12 teachers move to a different career after five years of being hired.
“There are many reasons for that, but my fear is that in North Carolina, those reasons have just become stronger,” Price says.
Both Congressman Price and the co-sponsor of the Keep Teachers Teaching Act, North Carolina Representative G. K. Butterfield, say the education bills they are introducing into Congress are meant to help states like North Carolina where budgets have cut back on education.
“Part of it is being diverted to public schools through vouchers, but part of it is just for a nice tax cut, mainly for wealthier people,” Price says.
Rep. Price is also co-sponsoring a bill that Rep. Butterfield introduced that would increase the federal funds for teachers who work in low-income schools.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/price-discusses-his-education-bill-on-wchl/
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Your U.S. Representative, David Price, is working on legislation with another North Carolina representative known as the Keep Teachers Teaching Act, which would allow states and school districts to apply for federal grants to create programs to help with teacher retention.
According to the Congressional Research Service, half of all teachers stop teaching after the first five years.
The bill would also allow states and school districts to share information about programs to improve teacher retention. Rep. Price introduced this bill last year as well.
Rep. Price is also co-sponsoring the bill of North Carolina Representative G.K. Butterfield, called the Support Educators and Reinvest in Valuable Education Act. Many teachers have the option of teaching special education or teaching math and science in a low-income school for five years to receive $17,500 in loan forgiveness.
Rep. Butterfield’s bill would make it so that those who teach any subject in low-income schools for five years would be eligible for the same amount of loan forgiveness.
Both Rep. Butterfield and Rep. Price say that these proposed bills are meant to help out states like North Carolina who have seen budget cuts to education.
Rep. Butterfield is also a co-sponsor of Rep. Price’s Keep Teachers Teaching bill.
Tune in to the WCHL Friday Morning News with Ron Stutts at 8:00 a.m. to hear from Congressman Price about the legislation he’s sponsoring to help with education nationwide.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/price-to-speak-about-education-on-wchl-friday/
CHAPEL HILL – Governor Pat McCrory unveiled two new plans Thursday that he says he hopes will improve education standards and quality throughout North Carolina.
“Today, I am proposing the formation of the Education Innovation Fund,” McCrory says. “It will fund innovative schools and new digital learning initiatives. Our starting point is an additional $30 million for this innovation fund.”
Gov. McCrory was the keynote speaker who opened the North Carolina Conference on Education at the Sheraton Hotel at One Europa Drive in Chapel Hill.
He says this fund, which first needs to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education, will select teachers in the state, selected by “their peers,” to receive a $10,000 stipend for outstanding performance as a teacher. The Governor says he hopes that this will also give other teachers and school administrators examples of how to achieve success in teaching.
“The top teachers in our schools should be equal to what we’re saying our principals are,” McCrory says. “We should be treating them just as our top administrators.”
Gov. McCrory also unveiled a plan to focus on improving student’s skills in subjects he says are critical to staying competitive in the global job market.
“I will not lower standards in any way. In fact, I want to raise them in two critical areas. And those two critical areas haven’t changed in the last century,” McCrory says. “That is reading and math.”
The Governor embraced the Common Core standards, a national set of school standards for state schools, but says the problems others have faced are in the way the core is taught.
“Common Core reading and math standards are good, but we must come together and improve the execution,” McCrory says.
The importance of this focus on education and improving reading and math literacy stems from conversations Gov. McCrory says he has with businesses in the state who say they are looking for people to hire but cannot find enough qualified workers.
“If we can’t produce educated, skilled workers for your businesses, then businesses won’t be successful and pay the needed revenue that government needs to fund education,” McCrory says.
North Carolina’s education budget is in both state and national headlines and Gov. McCrory took time in the beginning of his speech to respond to criticism.
“At $7.8 billion, this is the largest K-12 budget in North Carolina history,” McCrory says.
Gov. McCrory says he initially created a budget that would raise teacher’s salaries, but was forced not to by unforeseen costs in other areas.
“Since I made that budget, there has been approximately $500 million spent on unbudgeted Medicaid expenses,” McCrory says. “Had we not had that, that money alone could have paid for nearly a 3 percent raise for teachers and state employees.”
Protestors at the education speech, like Heidi Carter, chair of the Durham board of education, say they feel differently about the budget’s handling of education.
“I think that per people funding is too low and our teacher salaries are too low,” Carter says.
Jeff Bryant, another protestor, says the cuts to “pre-recession levels” are being done arbitrarily.
“It’s not to balance the budget; it’s to purposefully harm education,” Bryant says.
Gov. McCrory signed the state budget into law Friday.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/mccrory-proposes-new-education-initiatives/
CHAPEL HILL – Governor Pat McCrory is coming to you to talk about his plans for education in North Carolina.
According to ProgressNC Action, Gov. McCrory will be giving a speech about education Thursday morning at the Sheraton at One Europa Drive in Chapel Hill.
Protesters are planning to gather beginning at 8:00 a.m. wearing red again in support of teachers and better funding for education, just as they did during this past Moral Monday.
Tune in to the WCHL morning news at 8:00 a.m. to hear live updates from the protest.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/gov-mccrory-talks-education-in-ch-thursday-protest-planned/