North Carolina’s school superintendents issued a wish list for lawmakers this week that includes better pay for all educators, fewer failing grades issued to schools and a stronger teacher recruitment system.
The superintendents’ legislative agenda, presented in Mooresville this week, also asks state lawmakers to hold off expanding the state’s voucher system and to require private schools that get state money to be held accountable to public-school standards.
The school leaders released their list less than a week before the General Assembly convenes Monday for a “short session” designed to focus mostly on budget updates. Income tax collections have grown since the legislature passed a two-year budget last year, giving lawmakers an expected $237 million surplus to work with.
Highlights of the superintendents’ request include:
▪ School ratings: Revise standards for the “low performing” label to reduce the number of schools on that list, and lock in the current scale for school letter grades, which are based on student test scores. A stricter scale is scheduled to take effect at the end of this school year.
▪ Educator pay: Raise pay for teachers, principals and all school personnel. The request does not specify an amount but says administrators’ raises should match teacher raises.
▪ Overall spending: Increase per-pupil spending for public education.
▪ Competition: Return spending on public schools to pre-recession levels before expanding the Opportunity Scholarship program that uses public money to move students to private schools. Require all schools that get state money to meet the same standards as public schools, and avoid adjustments to the charter school funding formula that school districts view as unfair.
▪ Teacher licensing: Revise the licensing system to help public schools recruit teachers from other states and encourage new graduates to enter the profession.