Blog Archive

MeckEd Announces Leadership Transition

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

MeckEd, the Charlotte area’s leading voice on public education issues, on Thursday announced Dr. Bill Anderson, the executive director since 2011, will leave the organization effective June 30 to assume a new role at UNC Charlotte’s College of Education.

“It has been a tremendous honor to work with MeckEd on the most critical issues facing our public schools,” Anderson said. Bill Anderson “Education is the great equalizer. When we don’t have a strong public school system, everybody in our community loses. I’m proud of the work MeckEd’s team has done to support strong, vibrant, and successful public schools. I look forward with great enthusiasm to working with the University to help lead current and future teachers and education leaders in their pursuit to serve our schools, children, and communities.”

Anderson, a former teacher, principal and assistant superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, will become a Special Assistant to the Dean at UNC Charlotte’s College of Education. He will focus primarily on community relations, and teacher and principal preparation.

MeckEd’s Board of Directors will immediately begin a search for Dr. Anderson’s successor.

“We are grateful for Bill’s years of service to MeckEd and to public education,” said Richard Nichols, MeckEd’s 2015 board chairman. “The board has the utmost confidence in MeckEd’s outstanding staff to continue the organization’s critical advocacy, community engagement, and workforce development programming.”

Dr. Ellen McIntyre, Dean of the College of Education at UNC Charlotte said, “We are thrilled to have Bill join our team. He brings a strong commitment to educational equity, important connections to community organizations, and both an insider and outsider’s perspective on teacher and principal preparation. Because he is a UNC Charlotte alum, Bill knows about and respects what we do, but also brings with him new ideas about how we can best educate the educators.”

Bills to Watch at the General Assembly

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Things are moving quickly in Raleigh, as the General Assembly whittles down a big stack of proposed legislation and looks ahead to preliminary budget votes later this month.

Here are a number of education-related bills that MeckEd is keeping an eye on. Make sure to check out MeckEd’s 2015 Public Policy Agenda, as well as our 2015 Advocacy Toolkit for resources to help you advocate for public schools.

H358 (S450) – School Performance Grade Scale
This bill, whose sponsors include Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) and Rep. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg) would extend the use of a 15-point scale for the N.C. School Performance Grades for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Adam Rhew Under this scale, an 85-100 is considered an “A,” and so forth. After 2016, the rubric would revert to a 10-point scale. Current law requires a transition to a 10-point scale for the current school year. While MeckEd believes there should be more significant changes to the school grade system, including a greater emphasis on student growth scores, this bill is a positive step, and MeckEd supports it. It would provide three years of comparable data, so we know whether our schools are making progress or not.

H803 – School Performance Scores
MeckEd supports this bill, which would adjust the weight given to student performance and student growth when calculating the N.C. School Performance Grades. Each category–how students perform on tests and how much they grow over the course of a school year–would count for 50 percent of a school grade.

H661 – Teacher Recruitment and Scholarships
In an effort to recruit more teachers to the profession, this measure calls for the creation of a new scholarship loan program that would incentivize as many as 1,000 new entrants into the teaching profession each year. It is sponsored by Horn and Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg). The bill’s stated goal is to prioritize “hard to staff” schools and positions, which would be determined by the Department of Public Instruction. This bill would be funded subject to appropriations, so it remains to be seen how much money could be available, should this measure make it through the committee process.

H902 – Transforming Principal Preparation
Reps. Horn and Bryan sponsor this bill, too, which focuses on improving principal training. If approved, the state would contract with a program that has proven results for preparing principals for successful careers. As with H661, there are outstanding questions about the funding that would be available for this program, should the bill pass in the Senate.

S456 – Charter School Modifications
This measure would make a number of changes to the way charter schools are authorized, approved, governed, and funded in North Carolina. MeckEd is watching this bill closely, as our 2015 Public Policy Agenda states the importance of ensuring charter schools are held to the same high standards for performance and accountability as traditional public school districts. Charter schools are public schools and are funded by taxpayer dollars.

State Budget
The legislature is still considering the state budget. Gov. McCrory’s proposal includes raising the starting salary for North Carolina teachers from $33,000 to $35,000, as he promised to do last year. MeckEd believes it is important to devote a greater proportion of the general fund budget to public education. We also support efforts to raise the average North Carolina teacher salary to the national average by 2019. Under Gov. McCrory’s budget, about a third of teachers would receive a raise. We encourage you to write your elected officials and ask them to support greater investments in North Carolina teachers, so that our state can ensure the best educators are in front of our children every day.

Adam Rhew is MeckEd’s Director of Public Policy and Communications

Why You Should Care About the Teacher Pipeline

Monday, April 6th, 2015

By Richard Nichols, 2015 MeckEd Board Chair

Spend enough time inside our city’s corporate boardrooms or around small business conference tables and you’ll hear two works again and again: Talent pipeline.

The business community is obsessed with managing its supply of qualified, available workers—and rightfully so. People are the most important resource in our community. They will shape the future of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, so long as we work diligently to ensure the supply keeps up with demand.

That’s the problem North Carolina’s public schools face today. A teacher pipeline crisis is coming. It’s up to all of us to figure out a way to solve it. Richard Nichols

There are many significant issues confronting public schools in North Carolina and CMS. Simply pick up the paper or turn on the news and you’ll hear about the new school grades, the fallout from our former superintendent’s surprise resignation, a court battle over school vouchers and an increase in students who live in poverty.

All of these issues are important. But I’m convinced the teacher talent pipeline squeeze is among the most urgent in 2015.

The data tells a disturbing story. The pipeline is being squeezed from several directions. On the front end, fewer college students want to become teachers. Enrollment in UNC system colleges of education is down 15 percent from 2008 to 2013.

On the back end, experienced teachers continue to leave the profession in alarming numbers. MeckEd recently looked into turnover rates in the four largest North Carolina school districts from the 2009-10 school year to the 2013-14 school year. We found increases in every district. Last year Durham Public Schools led the way with a 20 percent teacher turnover rate; CMS came in second at 15 percent.

Last year, in an attempt to address the state’s teaching crisis, the General Assembly invested $282 million in raises for North Carolina teachers. The funding led to raises of anywhere 0.3 percent to 18 percent for our state’s educators. This investment is necessary and appreciated. We are encouraged lawmakers and the governor recognize there is more work needed to raise our state’s average teacher salary from 46th in the nation, where it was last year, toward 25th, where it stood before the recession. A recent survey of educators found a whopping 52 percent of North Carolina teachers have a second job.

That statistic sends the wrong message to educators in other states, once an important source of talent for our public schools. Human resources teams from many North Carolina school districts travel each spring to the Northeast and Midwest to recruit the heck out of their educators and woo them to our classrooms. CMS was often able to hire outstanding teachers who found North Carolina to be an appealing option with competitive salaries, low cost of living and a comfortable climate. Selling North Carolina to these out-of-state teachers has become more difficult after the recession.

MeckEd is pleased that the UNC Board of Governors and the State Board of Education have developed a seven-point plan to address teacher training, recruitment and retention. The education sector clearly must lead the way in addressing its talent crisis. But it would be a mistake for the business community to believe we don’t have a role in this work, too.

Nothing is more important to our education system and the long-term economic vitality of our community than having high-quality teachers in front of our children. Without great teachers in every classroom, our community simply cannot meet the goal of providing high quality schools—for all children, in all neighborhoods.

The business community benefits from a well-educated society. The kids who graduate from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools can be part of our talent pipeline. So why aren’t we concerned with the talent shortage in our schoolhouses?

Richard Nichols is a senior vice president at Bank of America and MeckEd’s 2015 Board Chairman. This editorial first appeared in the April 3, 2015 edition of the Charlotte Business Journal.

Understanding the School Performance Grades

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

By Adam Rhew, Director of Public Policy
On Feb. 5, the state released for the first time the N.C. School Performance Grades, which are designed to measure and report the academic achievement in every public school in North Carolina. MeckEd created the infographic below as a resource for understanding the grading system and how the grades are calculated.

NC School Grades

MeckEd’s 2015 Public Policy Agenda

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

By Dr. Bill Anderson, MeckEd Executive Director

As we begin a new year, I am pleased to announce MeckEd’s 2015 Public Policy Agenda—a list of priorities that underscore our mission of ensuring excellent public schools for all children.

This agenda is not set without much deliberation. The process actually began last summer, when MeckEd sought input from members of the community at two MeckEd Community Conversations. Our staff conducted extensive research on dozens of education policy issues at the state and local levels. Finally, the advocacy committee of our Board of Directors debated and analyzed the issues. The committee, and then the full board, voted unanimously to adopt the 2015 Public Policy Agenda. Bill Anderson

It includes three broad categories, as well as specific policy recommendations. You will notice that several of our policy goals remain the same. While MeckEd is grateful for the significant investment in teacher salaries in the Republican-led legislature last year, we know there is still more work to do. Our goal is still to bring North Carolina teacher salaries to the national average by 2019. Similarly, there is a need for more funding for the NC Pre-K program, which serves at-risk four-year-olds with quality education. Thousands of North Carolina children who could benefit from NC Pre-K cannot enroll because there are simply not enough seats.

We hope you will embrace these goals and share them with your elected officials. Make sure they know where you stand. In the coming weeks, MeckEd will roll out a number of resources and events that will help you effectively advocate for our public schools. Stay tuned—it’s going to be an exciting year!

Comparing Teacher Turnover and Neighborhood Income

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Today, MeckEd launched our 2014 Interactive Data Maps in collaboration with UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute. The new maps, which give us in-depth looks at all Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, use a data visualization program called Tableau to make it even easier to understand the story behind the numbers.Adam Rhew

For example, you now can see where a school ranks in comparison to other CMS schools on measures such as graduation rate and READY Proficiency Scores.

In talking with the Urban Institute’s John Chesser, We thought it would be interesting to use the data to take a look at how the income level in particular neighborhoods affects teacher turnover rates and READY Proficiency Scores.

The dashboards below focus on teacher turnover at the school level in CMS. Select the grey boxes near the top of the dashboard to see other views of the data or more information.

The top dashboard shows two maps with school data on top of a view of income for the county by ZIP code. The darker colored areas reflect higher per capita income. The map on the right shows the new READY proficiency scores by school. There is a clear pattern in the way that schools in higher income areas tend to score above the district average. The map on the left shows that those same patterns don’t hold as well for teacher turnover.

Adam Rhew is MeckEd’s Director of Public Policy and Communications