education

North Carolina teachers are expected to get a raise of $891 this year, on average, which would bump the state up two spots when compared to other states.

Teachers in Arizona are protesting for higher pay, while Kentucky educators rallied at their state capitol this Friday. The same day, Oklahoma teachers ended a 9-day walkout, rivaling the length of time West Virginia teachers left their classrooms last month. Distressed teachers seeking higher pay and better funding for education have created a movement in red states, leaving some to wonder, will North Carolina teachers join in next?

Buncombe County Schools

At the first-ever Student Opioid Summit,  high school students across Buncombe County, Asheville City Schools and Madison County Schools spent the day learning about the drugs, everything from how the opioids affect the brain to how casual use can lead to addiction.    In the afternoon, the students held brainstorming sessions and were encouraged to come up with action plans to implement at school in an effort to increase awareness and promote prevention.  The inaugural summit took place at the Biltmore Park Campus at Western Carolina University.

The North Carolina General Assembly’s answer to the Parkland shooting and a still-simmering national conversation about school safety began Wednesday with a legislative committee. The House Select Committee on School Safety met for the first time to discuss measures to keep public school students safe.

Margaret Spellings, the former secretary of education and current president of the UNC system, says after two years on the job there is still more work to be done to lower the cost of a UNC education and she needs the legislature's help to keep the momentum going.  

A new report from the left-leaning NC Justice Center has found that schools in the state have become slightly more segregated in the past decade. The report Stymied by Segregation found that the number of racially or economically isolated schools has gone up in that time.

North Carolina teachers do not want their colleagues not even trained ones to carry guns in school, according to a new Elon University Poll.

Leonardo da Vinci may be best known for his artistic masterpieces, but he was also an accomplished engineer and scientist.  That mix of science and art helped inspire a local group of artists, scientists, teachers and citizens to launch the area’s first arts and science festival.  BPR’s Helen Chickering caught up with one of the organizers, biologist Jason York.

Asheville’s first Arts and Science Festival will be held on Saturday, March 31 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Salvage Station.  The event is free and welcomes all ages.

North Carolina doesn't have enough school nurses or counselors, and that's impacting child health across the state. The North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the advocacy group N.C. Child gave the state "D" grades for school health and mental health on its Child Health Report Card.

The General Assembly passed a bill Tuesday primarily to address issues with a prior law that reduces class sizes in kindergarten through third grade. While the measure to phase in and better fund those reductions had bipartisan support, Democrats have criticized the bill for tacking on a number of other provisions.

State legislators have adjourned until May after voting to fix a long-standing issue over mandated class sizes, while delaying further action on the GenX water contamination issue.

Republican leaders of the General Assembly say they have reached a deal to give school districts statewide more time to reduce class sizes for kindergarten through third grades.

The proposal, which still needs approval, also includes more money to keep art, music and physical education teachers in the classroom.

All this is good news for North Carolina's public schools.  

But it comes with some controversial political strings attached.

The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear a case Wednesday over a power struggle between Republican State Superintendent Mark Johnson and the Republican-led State Board of Education. Shortly after Johnson's election in 2016, the General Assembly passed a law to shift powers from the governor-appointed board to the superintendent.

Governor Roy Cooper is urging business leaders to pressure the General Assembly to make funding for education a higher priority.

Tensions on the UNC Board of Governors remain high, a month after the board's chairman wrote an op-ed calling for the board to be united.

In the December op-ed, Chairman Louis Bissette called on the board to unite while allowing UNC system leaders to 'do their job.'

Governor Roy Cooper was in Charlotte Friday to make his pitch to lawmakers to give schools more money to implement smaller class sizes. He visited with second graders at Cotswold Elementary School. Legislators mandated that elementary schools get kindergarten through third grade classes below 18 students by next school year. While Cooper thinks the idea could improve learning, he said the current plan puts schools in a tough situation because no extra money has been dedicated.

The North Carolina State Board of Education earlier this month changed its policy for the standardized tests English language learners are required to take at the end of each school year.

North Carolina is still spending much less on public education than it did before the Great Recession. That's according to a recent report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Wake County parents have been very active in fighting a class-size law they say will hurt student learning. They've even come up with a hashtag that has gained some traction.

A recent analysis of five decades of data shows that high-quality early childhood education has lasting benefits for kids. Yet in North Carolina, less than one out of two young children participates in a qualifying program.

Duke University's endowment could take a hit if the Republican tax plan passes. The bill includes a new excise tax on universities whose endowment fund is valued more than $100,000 per student. That could amount to a $10 or $15 million annual tax for the university, according to Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld.


This is Denita Dowell-Reavis’ second year as a principal at Faith Elementary, a public school in the small town of Faith, in Rowan County. She worked hard last year. While finishing her doctorate degree in educational leadership, she helped her school exceed its expected test scores.

UNC System President Margaret Spellings and her community college counterpart shared a stage in Charlotte last night with House Speaker Tim Moore. They fielded questions about how to make higher education more affordable and accessible. 

The State Board of Education will take a final vote on Thursday on its plan for evaluating North Carolina public schools, a requirement of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The document must include grading formulas that tell parents and the federal government how well each school is educating its students.

North Carolina's governor used the launch of a school supply drive on Tuesday to argue that the GOP has been inadequately funding education, forcing too many teachers to have to use their own money to buy pencils and paper for their students.

The North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship program supplies funds to help up to 6,000 low income students attend private schools. The state-run program is slated to expand in coming years. Education researchers from North Carolina State University recently evaluated the scholarship to see how it's working for parents and schools who participate.

Southwestern Community College

On August 21, most of the country will pause and look up to the sky to observe the Great American Eclipse.  If you aren't able to make it outside for the astronomical event, no worries. NASA is planning to live stream the eclipse using cameras attached to high altitude balloons.  A local community college is part of the balloon project.  BPR's Helen Chickering has details. 

BPR News

A local community college is going for gold.  The  five member culinary team from A-B Tech in Asheville won its tenth regional title and is now competing for the national honor. 

BPR News

So just what happens at science camp?  Blue Ridge Public Radio’s Helen Chickering stopped by the Summer STEM Academy at Southwestern Community College in Sylva to find out. 

New research from Duke University shows that in states that have a widespread job loss, college attendance drops significantly among its poorest students.

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