Local News

Education leaders agree to fix Halifax school system

Posted April 29, 2009

— State and local educational leaders have agreed on an intensive training program to help Halifax County teachers and principals improve their failing schools.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning heard details Wednesday of a plan agreed to by both sides. Manning ordered action last month, saying the district operated so poorly that it was committing "academic genocide."

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Judge hears plan to fix Halifax school system

The plan would use about $1.8 million to hire 12 full-time education coaches and provide summer retraining courses for all 360 teachers and teaching assistants in the district. Teachers would be required to complete two weeks of training, principals three.

"We have been working to develop a plan that will go beyond coaching," said Dr. Pat Ashley, director of the state Department of Public Instruction's District and Transformation team, which is tasked with getting low-performing schools back on track.

Every classroom would be staffed with a competent, certified teacher, every school led by a competent and well-trained principal and schools would have resources they need under the plan, Ashley said.

Manning said he was concerned about accountability and what would happen if the plan is implemented and teachers and school administrators don't follow the program.

"What happens when they don't do what she says?" Manning asked. "That's what I want to get to."

"They would exit the system," Ashley said. "It is called "Succeed or go. We are monitoring to ensure that responsibility has been assumed"

More than 70 percent of elementary school students in Halifax County can't meet proficient reading standards on statewide tests. About three out of four middle school students are not proficient readers.

Halifax Schools Superintendent Geraldine Middleton said she supports the state's plan but worries about how it will affect the budget.

"The problem is that we have no money," she said. "It's not a problem of making choices around money. We simply don't have the money to spend."

Manning has long overseen the academic performance of state schools after a ruling several years ago in Leandro v. State of North Carolina, a case that sought to get more state support for school districts in low-income and rural areas.

"Those children deserve the teacher being able to teach them what they're supposed to know, including the multiplication tables and how to add and subtract in your head – which is not being done," he said Wednesday. "That's basic stuff."


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  • caeyla Apr 30, 2009

    I grew up in Halifax County, went to Halifax County Schools, and 2 of my children went to HCS for a short time. HCS has been inferior for at least the past 30 years. Regardless of the method, something must be done to improve those schools. Assuming that the problems are caused solely by parents, or teachers, or poverty, or race is, quite frankly, ignorant. It takes a special combination of many factors to have a school system that performs this poorly. I hope that the program helps, because there are too many children that are not getting the education that they need and deserve.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Apr 29, 2009

    Wake County has the same problems with african american students that Halifax County has.

    It's just that there are enough high performing kids in Wake County to offset the poor test scores when all of the scores are averaged together.

  • Amruby Apr 29, 2009

    90+ percent of the children are on free lunch program. 65% of the households are single parent. The average educational level of the parents is 8th grade. Some parents are only 12-14 years older than their children--babies raising babies. Health care is sporadic and absenteeism is rampant due to the fact that in some households children share shoes, coats etc. When you have this kind of socioeconomic nightmare you cannot expect a child to learn. All children can learn if everything in their lives is 100% OK. Let's feed and clothe the kids first and then we can teach them.

  • thnkb4uspk Apr 29, 2009

    I am a teacher of some very sad and incredibly neglected children. Instead of giving me AYP "bonus" money, offer it to people as an incentive NOT to have children they can't (won't) look after. Now THAT would be a good use of taxpayers' money.

  • onyourheels2 Apr 29, 2009

    i think that it is so funny that while they are in school, they're poor performance is the teacher's fault. when they get out of school and commit crimes it's because of a poor home life while growing up.

  • teacher56 Apr 29, 2009

    The children earned poor scores because they have poor home lives and parents who don't give a hoot. Judge Manning should have parental training over the summer...they are the reason for this problem as well as the lack of brains to work with.

  • Conservative1 Apr 29, 2009

    Public pressure for people to bring children into the world with 2 parents who will be responsible to raise them would be key. There is no shame in having children out of wedlock anymore and this has destabilized most families in Halifax County. Unstable families cause poor student success. The state will not be able to "fix" this without focus on parental responsibility. There are statistics available to show that low income families with both parents produce more successful students than high income single parent families. Money is not the issue. Plus, state government is going to add bureaucracy to the mix and they may be able to play with the numbers to make things look better when they are finished, but it won't be. They will make things look good on paper, but in the real world the students will still be failing if families are not stable.

  • Pseudonym Apr 29, 2009

    How do you spell "solution?"


  • ranquick Apr 29, 2009

    This is a shame. Our State government, Governor Easly and now Purdue and those in Raleigh should be shamed about this. We sould never let our pulbic school be pawn in the state's mishandling of funds.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Apr 29, 2009

    I'll bet MONEY!!!! NONE of what they do will matter!! anyone want to take me up on that?