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Judge: Public Schools Failing N.C. Students

Posted September 17, 2007

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— North Carolina students are entering high school unprepared and the public school system is failing them, a Superior Court judge, who has pushed education reform in poor school districts for nearly a decade, said Monday.

"Your instructional leadership is not doing the job in the classroom," Judge Howard Manning told a group of local educators, legislators and testing experts who comprise the state Board of Education's Blue Ribbon Commission on Testing and Accountability.

"There are too many kids not getting a sound, basic education or the opportunity to have a sound, basic education in high schools," he said.

Manning, who has overseen the Leandro case – which found the state provided inadequate support to schools in rural areas – said he was disheartened by poor proficiency test scores and said the time for excuses he has heard from low-performing schools he has visited is over.

"We've got an obligation under our constitution to give our children an education, whether they are black and poor or white and rich."

Manning suggested proficiency tests in sixth and seventh grades to see if students are prepared. He also believes schools need to get rid of teachers who are not doing their jobs.

"(The students) don't stand a snowball's chance in hell unless the teacher is a qualified teacher under the constitution standard that is the law."

Committee members said they would consider Manning's message.

"Judge Manning's message is very harsh, but it will be a very harsh economy if (students) don't succeed at high levels," state school Superintendent June Atkinson said. "We, as adults, need to take that message of harshness and turn that message into something that will be beneficial and positive for our students."

Manning said he has visited many of the state's low-performing high schools and that although they are always welcoming and appear to be making efforts to improve test scores, the results are still below where they should be.

In his opinion, consultants sent in to help schools improve have not been effective.

He said the excuse he hears – that the state has made tests harder – is a poor excuse for poor performance.

“I will not back off of what's got to be in that classroom, because that's the law," he said.


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  • scorekeep Sep 19, 2007

    Oh yeah, that's the way to do it-more testing for young people. The state already had those in place, they were called compentency tests for reading and math, but they had to be taken away becuase of NCLB. This judge has no idea what he is talking about!

  • coriemd Sep 19, 2007

    Deedeedee, I am agreeing with you all the way, and I hope you took the correct measures when that child said what he did to you. It does start at home with the parents, unfortunatly the children pay for the parents mistakes. It's not fair. My thoughts are if the parents can't & don't make the grade then the child/children need to be taken away and placed in a better environment, and maybe just maybe the parents can takes some parenting classes etc and ern their children back. Sorry If I have offended you at all, those were not my intentions.

  • Socrates41 Sep 19, 2007

    I feel sorry for the judge, he is disheartened by low scores. I am disheartened by no-ambition, ignorance-loving, child worshipping/neglecting parents! He assumes that all the students in school want to learn, and work!

  • scorekeep Sep 19, 2007

    Hey NC teacher, let me correct myself-I did not imply the teachers are not standing up, I want it to be known that, as you say, it is the state level people who care nothing about teachers' ideas.

  • Steve Crisp Sep 19, 2007

    WOW xteacher.

    When I was in school, we had 30 kids in each class. There were no teacher's helpers. Teachers maintained their classrooms, though the heavy cleaning was done by janitors as it still is today. Parents were called at night -- the time when they were home. There were no teacher workdays. Grading time was called nights and weekends. Special needs kids, those who could not speak English, and thugs they didn't have to worry about since they were not mainstreamed to do nothing but hold back academically inclined kids as today. Lunch duty? That's what the cafeteria people were for. Oh wait. We didn't have a cafeteria until junior high because all the elementary schools were within walking distance of all the kids houses. Teachers did have their own lounge, though, where they ate presuming they didn't leave campus for lunch as most of them did. Equipment always worked. And meetings? Those occured infrequently before the school day started.

    So quit carping.

  • NoToIllegals Sep 19, 2007

    Picture This!

    You have between 18-28 kids in YOUR house five days each week.
    You get approximately 15-20 minutes to eat lunch while supervising these same children.
    You MAY get a 45 minute planning period which includes making phone calls to parents, grading papers, using the copier (which doesn't work most of the time), having meetings, etc.

    Cleaning up after these kids have left, making more calls, having a faculty meeting, or a group meeting about a special needs child, and if you're lucky work on your OWN preparations for class.

    Then come on here and tell us that teachers do NOT earn their salaries. While doing all this work, trying to TEACH, and following the state mandated guidelines OR lose your job is you don't follow the status quo.
    This does NOT include your relationship with your pricipal or other teachers....that can be a problem as well for some.

    THINK ABOUT IT. It isn't all about the students unfortunately.

  • NCTeacher Sep 18, 2007


    The whole problem is that the people bowing down to this judges and others decisions, are NOT the classroom educators. We are screaming loudly and repeatedly and no one is listening. The people that would have the power and authority to stop this kind of thing is the administration on the state level. THEY are the ones that are bowing down and not standing up for the changes that NEED to happen in education.


    They are already my children. On the first day of school- I took ownership of those children. And they will be mine long after they graduate and have careers of their own. I figure that if their parents aren't going to raise them, it will just be up to me. And that is okay. They might not meet all of their "State Standards", but they will try, and they will know that SOMEONE cares about them and wants them to succeed.

  • scorekeep Sep 18, 2007

    Way to go June Atkinson-nice job of throwing your teachers, administrators, everybody in front of the train. Stand up for them and correct this Manning before he turns our schools into robot producing factories.

  • scorekeep Sep 18, 2007

    Are we sck and tired of the educators, in important positions, bowing down to this judge, who knows everything, because he visited a few schools? Let's see him meet with some of these teachers in these low performing schools and then make a few home visits. Come on stater school board, STAND UP! Or at least let him meet with ONE school's faculty.

  • AWakeMom Sep 18, 2007

    I work in a south Raleigh elementary school. I can, through experience say, stupid + stupid does not = smart. The kids come in with attitude, and a mouth full of "my mom/dad said I don't have to listen to you" -- the parents don't appear to care about education and they easily get that message across to their precious child. When we spend the majority of our day dealing with discipline issues, who can affectively teach? Everyone suffers for it. We need the parent's help!!!! We're begging for it -- support us!!! Make your child understand it is their future -- and it can be as bright or as dim and you tell them it can be.