UNC is checking in atop a national ranking for the 14th year in a row.
Carolina offers the best value of any public school in the country, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, which publishes the annual list.
“UNC ranks number one for both in-state and out-of-state [students],” says editor Sandra Block. “UNC is just a bargain for what you get.”
Block says that UNC’s ability to provide financial aid to students is paramount to maintaining their positioning on the top of the list, but there are other factors – including “[the] student-faculty ratio, [the] admission rate – which is 27%, very competitive – [and] undergraduate debt, [which] is lower than average.”
Block mentions that UNC is the top ranking public university on the combined public-private value list, checking in at number 22. She says the list is dominated by private universities because of the amount of financial aid at the disposal of the schools – including one just down the road from UNC.
“Duke is number 10 on our combined list,” she says.
Both UNC and Duke excelled at graduating their students in four years. Duke has a four-year graduation rate of 87%, while Carolina’s is 81%.
Block adds that public universities face some obstacles that private institutions don’t – including state budget cuts.
The recent revelations of academic irregularities at UNC involving student athletes have dominated headlines in the academic world. Block says that they did factor that into their study by removing those students and rerunning the numbers to recalculate the graduation rate.
“Not to downplay the seriousness of the scandal,” she warns, “(but) statistically it wasn’t significant.”
Block says that, overall, the state of North Carolina, in particularly the Triangle, is very well represented on the list. UNC tops the list for in-state and out-of-state students at public universities. Duke checked in at number 10 on the combined public-private list, and North Carolina State University ranked 12th on the public university list for in-state students.http://chapelboro.com/news/higher-education/unc-ranked-best-value-education-country/
The Family Success Alliance Council has chosen two of the six geographic zones to enact a pilot program with the goal of creating a pipeline of success for children living in poverty.
Dr. Michael Steiner, with UNC Health Care, announced the selection following a committee vote.
“Congratulations to Zone 4 and Zone 6, and the Family Success Alliance will look forward to continue working with you and starting the next steps of the process.”
Zone 4 represents central Orange County, specifically between I-40 and I-85. Zone 6 covers a densely populated area from downtown Chapel Hill to Highway 54.
Representatives from the six zones that were being considered for the pilot program gave their pitch to the council during a special meeting, on Tuesday evening.
Delores Bailey, from the non-profit EmPowerment, represented Zone 6. In her pitch to the council, she focused on a need of young children in the community.
“There’s been a major setback in the Head Start program,” she says. “And that alone has been responsible for the groundwork and young people growing. If we’re missing that Head Start piece, we’ve got to have resources that wrap around what we’re missing from there.”
Zone four was campaigned for by Aviva Scully from Stanback Middle School and New Hope Elementary’s Rosemary Deane.
Deane says that during some community events they were able to break down barriers and establish a cumulative goal for the area.
“During our forum, we had families from all over come together. You could see a common vision of what they want for our community,” she recalled.
They are looking to calm some of those concerns with the help of pilot program from the Family Success Alliance Council.
One common theme developed throughout the meeting. No matter which zones were ultimately selected, the ball was rolling and each zone would have the support of the zones that were not chosen.
As for those zones that were not selected, Orange County Health Department Director Dr. Colleen Bridger cautioned that this was a pilot program, so there was no firm timeline for involving the other zones. But she made clear the intention was to do so.
“We need to try it and see how it goes. And then as soon as we can, we want every single zone to be involved in this.”
Doctor Bridger adds that the zones that were not selected will be encouraged to continue their work, and the council will be able to provide some guidance following their next meeting in February.
Meanwhile, the implementation of the pilot program will immediately go into action in zones four and six. Feedback from the success of these programs will be documented and passed along to other areas throughout the community to encourage similar efforts.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/zones-chosen-fsa-council-create-pipeline-success-children/
UNC transcripts will now tell more than just about the student whose grades are being represented.
The News and Observer’s Jane Stancil wrote this weekend of the new design at UNC’s flagship university, which is attempting to combat the issue of grade inflation that has grown since the middle of the 20th century.
The new transcripts show a median grade of classmates, the percentile range, the number of students in the class section, and a new measure, the schedule point average (SPA). This form of measurement shows just how rigorous the course load is that the student took.
Carolina’s new transcript is supposed to allow graduate schools and employers be able to better choose the great from the good.
Grade inflation has been a national issue, and a study in the Teachers College Record in 2012 found the most prevalent areas were in elite private universities followed by the flagship campuses.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-shows-detail-transcripts/
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Friend
UNC System President Tom Ross praised the North Carolina General Assembly for it’s attention to higher education with the signing of the 2014-15 budget, signed into law Thursday morning by Governor Pat McCrory. The reception wasn’t as rosy on the Pre-K-through-12 level.
President Ross released a statement shortly after the passage, reading, in part: “There is a lot to appreciate in this budget, including the first new investment by the General Assembly for parts of our strategic directions initiative and the support of the New Teacher Support Program.”
“We continue to focus on our responsibility to produce a well-equipped talent force for our businesses and our communities,” President Ross said. “Highly talented faculty and staff are critical to these efforts. As other states continue to reinvest in higher education, our ability to recruit and retain the best faculty and staff will only get more challenging. We look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly next session to address the issues that will hinder our State’s future competitiveness.”
The New Teacher Support Program’s goal is to cater to each young educators individual needs in order to make sure they are on the path to success.
Despite an average of seven-percent increase to teachers’ salaries in primary education, there are still concerns among educators.
Longevity pay, the bonus once awarded to teachers with more than ten years of experience is no longer guaranteed. Instead, the new plan caps teacher salaries at $50,000 for those with more than 25 years in the classroom and rolls longevity pay into the base salaries.
This has some long-term teachers estimating their raises at closer to 2-4 percent, while starting teachers will receive a seven-percent boost and those with half a decade of experience could see as much as an 18 percent increase.
Representative Graig Meyer of Orange and Durham counties told WCHL Wednesday, after the announcement of Budget Director Art Pope’s resignation, that he’s also concerned about future budget decisions because there is now an $800,000 to $1 billion deficit that will have to be accounted for during 2015-16 budget talks.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/unc-system-president-praises-gas-work-budget/
RALEIGH – Common Core curriculum standards for North Carolina schools will be rewritten under a bill signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Gov. McCrory signed the bill Tuesday along with four others. He said the Common Core bill does not officially repeal the federal standards but will review and improve them.
North Carolina is now one of five states that have changed or removed the Common Core standards from schools and are creating new state-specific ones.
The law directs the State Board of Education to rewrite the Common Core standards for the North Carolina’s K-12 schools. A new 11-member standards advisory commission will be formed to make curriculum recommendations to the board. Common Core, which schools began testing two years ago, would remain in place until the new standards are completed.http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/gov-mccrory-signs-common-core-changes-law/
The Common Core curriculum standards that dictate what’s taught in grade school classrooms across the state are on their way out.
Gov. Pat McCrory signaled that he would sign a compromise bill that the House passed Wednesday and Senate signed off on it last week. The House approved the bill, 71-34, to rewrite the statewide curriculum to better tailor it for North Carolina students.
“I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” McCrory said in a written statement. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards. No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education.”
Both chambers had competing bills on how to change the state’s curriculum, but came to a compromise that allowed the state to potentially use some materials from the Common Core program that are effective.
The bill “melds the two versions quite well,” said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union. “We are not taking anything off the table from the standpoint of being able to access the best ideas in the country to ensure that we have high academic standards.”
The bill directs the State Board of Education to rewrite the Common Core standards for the state’s K-12 standards. A new standards advisory commission would be formed to make curriculum recommendations to the board. The bill does not bar the commission or State Board from integrating current Common Core standards with the new ones. The commission would be made up of 11 members, some appointed by legislative leaders, one by the governor and others by the State Board of Education.
Common Core, which schools began testing two years ago, would remain in place until the new standards are completed.
The curriculum standards were developed by the nation’s governors and school chiefs and have been approved by more than 40 states. But North Carolina and a handful of other states are responding to complaints from teachers, parents and conservative advocates that the standards are causing confusion and leading to the use of curriculum that is age-inappropriate.
The state Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday they support the curriculum rewrite and that it brings predictability and certainty to education in the state.
“This is a significant step toward a reasonable approach to make standards higher and our top priority is pushing for the absolute best academic standards for the state,” said Lew Ebert, president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber, in a statement.
Educators and families on both sides of the aisle have been complaining about Common Core and ask that it be replaced, said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven.
“The bottom line is it’s a terrible system. There may be some good things about it and though this bill will allow them to sue those things if they need to,” he said. “It’s not something we should have ever accepted.”
Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, said repealing the rules is a solution in search of a problem, sends a bad signal and puts an unfair burden on schools, teachers and parents, who already invested and trained with Common Core.
“Why are we really doing this?” she said. “Is this really to better education or is this more political in nature? I worry that this is more political.”http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/common-core-elimination-bill-moves-forward/
Movoto.com has ranked Chapel Hill as the #1 small city in the nation for education.
Executive Director of Community Relations for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Jeff Nash, says that Chapel Hill deserves this recognition because of all the people that make it happen.
“The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are fortunate to be in a very ‘edu-friendly’ community,” says Nash. “Not only the teachers and the school personnel, who do a wonderful job every day working with our children, but it’s also a lot of other groups, including elected officials, like our school board and our county commissioners who are a very big part of the success of the school district. Also, the parents and the community in general always work hard to ensure that we sustain the success of our schools. We’re very fortunate to be in this community, and we look forward to many, many more years of even greater success.”
Nash says he believes that in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community, education comes first.
“The community makes education the top priority,” says Nash. “You see it in the county commissioners to fund the schools at a level higher than many other school districts. You see it in local taxpayers, who are willing to be taxed at a higher rate for the sake of excellent schools. You see it in educators who really want to be here and want to work in our district. You see it in students who have goals, and they work hard to attain those. You see it in parents as they make sure students are prepared and ready for school each day, they come in and volunteer, they help out with school, they support their teachers and principals. So, it’s really a team effort.”http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/chapel-hill-ranked-1-small-city-education/
The North Carolina General Assembly is meeting in “short session” this year – but there’s been no shortness of controversy.
At the center of debate last week was the budget proposal released by State Senate Republicans, which includes more than $400 million for a significant hike in teacher salaries – but that raise comes (among other things) at the expense of massive cuts to teacher assistants in grades 2 and 3.
Already facing a multi-million-dollar shortfall, officials at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools say the Senate’s proposal would likely force the district to make even more cuts than they were initially planning – unless they can persuade County Commissioners to dig even deeper into the pool of local money. (Fully funding the budget requests of both the county’s districts would almost certainly necessitate a tax increase, though, which County Commissioners and county staff have been reluctant to impose.)
Meanwhile – though it hasn’t received as much media attention – local municipalities across the state are also contending with the repeal of a business privilege tax, which the AP reports could cost municipalities a total of $62 million statewide. Governor Pat McCrory signed the repeal on Thursday.
With those and other issues in mind, WCHL’s Aaron Keck invited Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board member James Barrett to the studio on Thursday, for a pair of conversations about the local impact of recent actions at the NCGA.
Your children are sprinting through primary and secondary education to get the right answer, but do they know why, and is the system that’s in place pointing them in the right direction?
“When I asked them, ‘do any of you truly care about what you’re learning?’ every head around the table went down,” Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Tom Forcella says he meets with students in the system on a monthly basis and recently asked them what motivates them to go to school on a daily basis. The answers were always: ‘to get good grades so I can go to college and get a job’. “One girl picked up her head and said, ‘but we wish we did.”
East Chapel Hill High School counselor Kristin Hiemstra says students have learned which path will get them the best grades, but that’s not necessarily making them think about the solution.
“They’re just not necessarily prepared to be able to say, ‘wow, now I’m in charge, and I’m ready to take the reins,’” Hiemstra says. “It’s kind of like, ‘well now what do I need to do; how do I get an A now?’ And it’s like, ‘well you can’t get an A that way.’”
Taking Advanced Placement (AP) and college courses in high school sends the students into college with credits already earned.
UNC Parr Center for Ethics Director and Faculty Chair Jan Boxill says the model that tells the students to do so isn’t teaching them the tools that prepare them, especially for critical thinking.
“They think they should major in business, or they think in high school they need 30 hours to come into UNC,” Boxill says. “We have found, and I have found personally, anecdotally, that sometimes students who come in with too many hours really are not ready for college, surprisingly. And the one area that they’re the worst at is writing.”
Hiemstra says, at least at UNC, admissions standards are changing.
“We have seen and heard from Dr. Farmer, that they’re really doing—and we’ve seen it in our admissions—this really cool, kind of wholistic evaluation of a student that is not necessarily fully academic-based, which doesn’t mean you’re getting lesser students,” Hiemstra says. “It just means that they’re not looking at the intensity of, ‘did you have 12 APs? Wow, maybe you took eight, but you did all this other really cool stuff, and they seem to be really looking to bring in diversified students.”
Dr. Stephen Farmer is the director of undergraduate admissions at UNC.
Penny Gluck is the Executive Dean of Orange County Operations for Durham Technical Community College. She says technology has greatly changed the landscape of education.
“I teach critical thinking every semester, and that’s one of the continual struggles the entire semester,” Gluck says. “‘Okay, you’ve read this, you’ve read this, but tell me what you think about that and what’s significant, what’s important—being able to take all sides.”
Boxill says the art of communicating has been lost. She says students are coming to her without basic writing and creative thinking skills.
“This is why I fear online education,” Boxill says. “You don’t have the interaction. Engaging, talking, having to critically think about things together, not individually always, but together. I think that’s what high schools can do best. Granted, there’s a whole lot of things that prevent that, because there’s so many things you have to teach; there’s only so many hours in the day.”
With the release of Common Core Standards, parents were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to help their children with their work because it’s not the way they were taught. Boxill says that may be to the students advantage if the parents work with them.
“You know how they help their kids?” Boxill asks. “Talking, actually reflecting. So it might have some accidental (affect). But I do think that that would be a plus for universities and colleges to have students who have gone through the Common Core as a process, not as a curriculum.”
Educators are in agreement that students strive to learn and that pushing them to learn can only do good.
Boxill says, in the end, the educators have to be trusted to do their very best with the students.
“I think we’ve lost a lot of respect for teachers, both college and high school, and respect for those who are training our future leaders,” Boxill says. “We’ve got to give people the respect to be able to do what they do best.”
***Listen to the College Education Forum Hour***
Click here for all of the 2014 Community Forum stories.http://chapelboro.com/news/2014-community-forum/sprinting-education-end/
CHAPEL HILL – Orange County has seen a great deal of recent political turnover, with a newer, younger generation of legislators and community leaders emerging to replace the old.
But how do those new leaders navigate the political realm? How do they make a difference, in institutions still dominated by older legislators and older ways?
“I walk in, first of all, as a student – a student of the game,” says newly appointed State House Representative Graig Meyer. “How am I going to play this game? What do I need to learn? Who do I need to align myself with? Who do I need to emulate? Who do I need to stay away from?”
First-term Carrboro Alderman Damon Seils agrees, adding that finding one’s place involves not only the need to learn how to play the game – but also the chance to elevate the discourse.
“One of the things that I found myself doing – while not intending, necessarily, to do it – was to come to the role with a kind of posture of wanting to demonstrate how to disagree well,” he says. “I think that, in itself, has value.”
Other young or first-term legislators agree that ‘being the new guy’ also offers a rare opportunity to shake things up.
“I think all of us who are new elected officials have one opportunity, which is to really see how things have been done and to ask questions about why,” says first-term County Commissioner Mark Dorosin. “Why do you do something like this? Why is it like this? And maybe that’s the right way to do it, but you have the opportunity to say, ‘Explain it to me – and in doing so, explain it to the constituents.'”
Fellow first-termer Renee Price agrees. “If I have to say something that’s going to ruffle somebody’s feathers, I’m sorry,” she says. “Well, no, I’m not sorry, really.”
And first-term Chapel Hill Town Council member Maria Palmer says she can also take advantage of her status as a demographic outsider as well.
“I’m an immigrant,” she says, “so sometimes I can say things that other people are too embarrassed or have been told all their lives you can’t say in polite company.”
Palmer, Price, Dorosin and Seils all occupy seats on elected boards that serve Orange County alone – so all four can say their own values adhere fairly closely to those of their fellow board members.
Not so Meyer, a Democrat in the Republican-dominated General Assembly. “I just drove back from Raleigh,” he says, “and I was in an education policy hearing…(and) most of the people in the General Assembly don’t know a darn thing about education. And I cannot believe they’re making some of the decisions that they’re making.”
Among other things, he says, those decisions include a continued reluctance to raise teacher pay – and, on Thursday, a task force recommendation to eliminate the Common Core standards.
Those moves and others have left him frustrated, Meyer says – and it can be no less frustrating for new and young officials seeking to make change in Chapel Hill. But despite the frustration, Meyer says it’s possible to be hopeful for the future, simply by looking back to the recent past.
“On the days that I’m mad and angry – and today sitting in chambers was one of the worst days that I’ve had – I tend to think about Terry Sanford and Bill Friday,” he says. “Those gentlemen came out of World War II together…and they decided that they were going to fight racial segregation and build the prosperity of this state based on having a strong public education system.
“And there is no reason why today’s leaders shouldn’t be able to come together around the same goal of building our long-term prosperity on a well-educated populace and the ability to stand up against the continued existence of institutionalized racism and other forms of inequity.”
And it’s that hope that sustains local leaders – young and old and newcomer and veteran alike – as they continue to push for change.
“Change is hard,” says Dorosin. “It’s very frustrating. But, you know, every day you start to push the rock up the hill – and you hope that today, it gets all the way to the top.”
And in the end, Renee Price says, that activism pays off in its impact on people.
“There’s something very interesting that happens, I think every single time I’ve had a meeting (where) I’ve been frustrated,” she says. “The next day someone will call me up, or they’ll see me in the grocery store, and they’ll just say ‘thank you.’
“And you know…it makes it worth it.”
Dorosin, Price, Meyer, Seils and Palmer made those comments in the “Tomorrow’s Newsmakers” panel of the 2014 WCHL Community Forum.http://chapelboro.com/news/2014-community-forum/new-young-leaders-learning-disagree-well/