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Judge: Money Alone Can't Improve N.C. Schools

Posted September 26, 2007

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— About $290 million – that’s how much money the state spent last year to improve student test scores at low-performing high schools. But the judge overseeing the process said money isn’t enough.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning used his courtroom once again Wednesday to highlight the problems within North Carolina's classrooms. He wanted to know what the state is doing to help students who aren't performing at grade level.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction officials talked about the use of Personalized Education Plans, or PEPs, for struggling students.

“They help teachers determine how well a student is progressing, how well a student is learning,” said Robert Logan, associate superintendent of public instruction for innovation and school transformation.

PEPs are mandated at the elementary and middle school levels, but not in high school. State education officials said trying to do it is a challenge when high school students are taking different courses.

Manning said he thinks there needs to better monitoring of whether students are learning.

“I’m not off-base in demanding that it be done, when it’s not being done,” Manning said.

Administrators from Pamlico County shared strategies about how they turned around their low-performing school. Manning called it an example what does work, asserting that it's not a question of money, but a matter of leadership.

Manning said he has little tolerance for educators who allow students to fail.

“People who somehow or another are out there sucking their thumbs and not putting into play this stuff need to be taken to the barn,” he said.

Manning is overseeing the Leandro case, a lawsuit that claims the state's poor school districts don't give students an education equal to what students get in more well-off districts.

93 Comments

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  • Timbo Sep 28, 2007

    cjump, my dad worked for IBM, and I went to school in a number of different states. In the late 60's and early 70's, I was in upstate NY and their approach to education then, seems now to be a very good one.

    They had 3 tiers: Regents (college bound), non-Regents (non-college bound or technical school bound) and Vocational. The vocational kids, male and female, did their vocation classes (bricklaying, carpentry, hair styling, etc...) in the mornings at another location, and after lunch, came back and took the basic courses that they would need. (I don't know what NY is doing now.) Additionally, the Regents kids took standardized tests at the end of their courses to show proficiency.

    I don't know why educators in NC don't design something similar. And really, you can't tell me someone with a trade makes less money than someone with no trade that barely passed highschool.

  • poohperson2000 Sep 28, 2007

    I do not understand just passing kids. My son struggles with school and his speech delays. My husband and I have been on the look out for him just being passed. That is the worst thing they could do to the kid. He does work hard and listen in the classroom and is desrving of what ever extra help he gets.

  • doubletrouble Sep 27, 2007

    Teachers want to teach. They should NEVER fear going into their own classrooms, and alot are, especially in the poorer HS county systems. There is pure, lack of respect. At the lower grades, the EGT--I've seen first hand how if a student does poorly, well they are given several chances to complete, and are often given answers to keep the school's score from being so poor in the state's eyes. They do not want to hold them back..just pass them along, as this also shows poorly on the state's score of the school. Now a struggling student is thrust into a higher grade, unprepared and eventually gives up. We need more teachers/smaller classrooms, more education materials, buildings, and supplies(teachers often have to spend their lowly income to help)--and yes..special bootcamp schools, in a military style-- for those that just doesn't "want" to get with the program. Just make a diploma/GED a requirement for welfare, for anyone under the age of 25--that will make a difference.

  • weasleyes Sep 27, 2007

    "weasleyes,I really hate to say this but I too was involved in the PTA,and PTSA.What a crock it is.I rarely saw much getting done at "meetings" accept fake commradre*,money issues.It always seemed more like a big welfare line,with a bunch of beggars waiting." PikeMom

    I am very sure that MUCH has changed in the years since I was involved with PTA. State PTA was worthless, a bunch of old ladies, with Sunday School medals, producing much paper that no one with a job had time to read! However, our PTA (considered a "poor school,") was fortunate enough to have 40-50 parents, white and black, who would help with anything! We won the Wake PTA award! However, I do not doubt your word. It has gotten much worse, due to lack of discipline! I am not a teacher, BTW, but an engineer! I still say that some of us are like the Romans, who got so lazy they laid down to eat! Parents MUST be made to get involved, or have their kids taken away from them. Timbo: Right on!

  • NZ Sep 27, 2007

    Taxpayers shouldn't have to get a second rate education. Everyone knows private schools are different because they don't use corporal punishment and simply kick out the misbehaving kids. Public schools aren't private, don't have the luxury of kicking out misbehaving kids and shouldn't have the right to. These kids don't need to go to prison-like schools because it admitting defeat. I love my daughter but I've spanked her twice when I had to and get wonderful comments on her behavior when she is without us.
    Responsible parenting should be meted by the schools. Responsible parenting through spanking is not abuse, our legislature and the courts have affirmed. Foster parents and public schools are compelled to keep future felons when they could have raised perfectly good citizens. No spank advocates should hang their head in shame, they helped create this problem.

  • NZ Sep 27, 2007

    Timbo and beachboater are both right. We should try to get the kid in line with the rod. If it fails then let him/her get schooled in working with their hands. There is no shame in working with your hands. My Dad had a great career in the military using them.

    The important thing is those that do what they are supposed to need the best shot they can get. We need to minimize the distractions in the classroom. We can have all the great tools in the world but if the teacher can't count on the administration to help straighten things out then schools will fail, thus the community. I am glad for Manning, I am glad for Bush and his "No child Left behind". If our current system is broken lets have the courage to fix it and let the chips fall where they may. Everyone knows schools where better in the 60s and 70s, whats the difference? Its the lack of the paddle and our heterogeneous community as it was back then but on steroids. The paddle can bring us together again.

  • cjump Sep 27, 2007

    Three cheers for Timbo!!!!!

    It is time to go back to levels of ability in education: honors, college, general and basic. As a teacher I am tired of having children at the lower end of the grading scale take up my time while intelligent, hard working children get ignored and left to themselves. I guess that also reflects poorly on the parents as well. The apple sure doesn't fall far from the tree.

  • poohperson2000 Sep 27, 2007

    If you can not find a way to be at the school twice a year for a parent teacher conference then your child does not belong in school. When we were kids our parents worked to support familes and still managed to be at the schools for Parent Teacher night. Why do we make so many excuses for people who fail to be responsible??

  • beachboater Sep 27, 2007

    Lost the rest of the previous post.

    Bottom line, spare the rod and spoil the child. A lot of truth in that.

  • beachboater Sep 27, 2007

    This has mostly been one of the better discussions that I've seen on the WRAL website. Both of my parents taught for 50+ years, and both of my children and one spouse are teachers. I've been around it all of my life. My father was a staunch supporter of public education for almost all of his career. In his last few years, he encouraged me to send my kids to private school and said he would even pay for it. That was a BIG deal for him. He said dicipline was gone in the schools. He had listened to "my child wouldn't do that" about all he could stand.

    Both of my daughters attended public schools and state supported universities, and both graduated Magna Cum Laude. Needless to say, I'm very proud of them. My wife and I always went to meet the teachers for parent teacher conferences and we were always told, "You aren't the ones that need to be here. The ones that need to be here never come." I think it is just a plain and simple fact, parents that don't want to be involved wit

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