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Addressing an audience of about a hundred persons, ranging in age from 8 weeks to 80 years, Meyer provided not only a detailing of recent and pending issues and legislative actions, but as importantly, provided a surprisingly optimistic perspective on opportunities that may exist in the current climate. He noted that times characterized by division and disruption, while disconcerting, may offer fertile ground for new and innovative ideas and proposals, i.e., those that are not part of an entrenched political system may have a chance to emerge and garner bipartisan support. Advocacy groups must answer the essential questions: Where and how do we take stands? Where do we find common ground? Then through coordinating their efforts and numbers, they can strive to play a mediating role. Read more about Meyer's views on issues in public education and higher education and educational concerns of the audience.
Pictures from Presentation
Rep. Graig Meyer Bio: From the Equity Collaborative, a national consulting firm focused on helping educational and youth development organization: "Graig Meyer is a social worker, educator, and youth development specialist working as an Equity Leadership Coach and partner in The Equity Collaborative. Graig has sixteen years of experience leading equity work in public schools. He was the director of the nationally recognized Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program. He also served as the Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro (NC) City Schools. Graig was one of the co-creators of the Student Six: Strategies for Culturally Proficient Classroom Practice, which has been nationally recognized for its innovative use of student voice to train teachers in research based best practice. Graig works with school districts and non-profits nationally from his base in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Graig is also a member of the North Carolina General Assembly."
Five legislative issues could have a grave impact on public education in North Carolina:
1. Plans for an Achievement School District (ASD) have passed the Senate and gone to the House. There are more than enough votes there to pass it. The ASD would remove the lowest five percent of elementary schools from their local districts and put them into a special district, with a superintendent who has the power to turn over control to corporate charter school administrators. Five schools is the starting point. The door is then open to force more schools into the Achievement district in successive years. There will be no local control or accountability for tax dollars going to these schools. Read more about it on Public Schools First:
2. The grading system for schools, based on test scores, is being reviewed and can put more schools into the 'failing' category, making them eligible for inclusion in the Achievement school district. The scale may be changed this year from a 15 point scale to a 10 point scale which would be even worse. It will increase the number of public schools receiving D and F ratings..
3. Money for school vouchers is to be quadrupled over the next 5 years. The voucher money goes to private schools, some of which are religious-based, as tuition for students who leave public schools. For more information see Public Schools First Quick Facts:
4. Fund 8 money. Traditional public schools are experiencing financial distress from continued loss of funding, and now face a bill that will force them to take portions of federal funds for transportation and school lunches and turn it over to charter schools. Charters will get portions of federal funds intended for specific services that the charters do not even offer.
5. And then we have the threat of an amendment to the state constitution, the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR. TABOR is part of an attempt to limit the growth of government by limiting increases in funding. Senate Bill 607 creates a complex formula for greater spending based on population growth and cost of living increases. Anything beyond that would require a 2/3's majority vote in both houses. If passed by the House, this would go on the November 2016 general election ballot as a constitutional amendment. Since operating expenses of public schools in NC are funded primarily by the state budget, the impacts on education will be staggering.
All of this is on top of repeated cuts to school funding over the past few years.
As noted in their overview, since 1986, the Forum has served as a nonpartisan advocate for better schools, bringing together people from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus and ultimately inform and shape education policy.
The work of the Forum is highly respected and includes promoting sound research and analysis, framing ideas and issues, providing policy options, and finding nonpartisan common ground for consensus-based education policy making. The site is robust and includes a range of publications, access to weekly briefs, program information and helpful links. For those seeking to understand current issues, we direct you toward: Policy Briefs and Research Publications, Top Ten Educational Issues, Policymakers' Education Prime and Local School Finance Study among just a few of available resources.
The League of Women Voters (LWV) believes strongly that high quality public education for all children is necessary to sustain our democratic way of life and the economic health of our state and the people. Furthermore, having studied education issues at the national, state and local levels for many decades, the LWV concludes that adequate funding is essential to the ability of the state to provide and sustain such an education.