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Monday numbers: A closer look at crimes, suspensions and expulsions in NC schools

North Carolina’s public schools saw a significant reduction in the number of crimes, suspensions, and expulsions during the 2020-21 school year as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis that forced most school districts to offer a mix of remote and in-person learning.  The State Department of Public Instruction shared the findings of the state’s 2020-21 Consolidated Data Report during the State Board of Education’s business meeting last week. 

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Higher Ed News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Former university leaders lament GOP’s political push at UNC during online forum

Three former university leaders decried the politicization of the UNC System Wednesday in a discussion with an accreditation expert about university governance and ideological struggles in higher education. The livestreamed panel, organized by the Coalition or Carolina, brought together former UNC-Chapel Hill chancellors James Moeser and Holden Thorp, former UNC Board of Governors and UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees member Paul Fulton and Belle Wheelan...

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Education News Top Story

PW exclusive: Former Three Rivers principal describes chaos at charter school, which state plans to close

Don McQueen, operator of Three Rivers Academy, allegedly padded enrollment numbers, paid families so students would attend class, and took other extreme measures to ensure state per-pupil funds kept flowing to the troubled charter school in Bertie County. A former teacher detailed these allegations in an interview with Policy Watch, which were corroborated by a former principal of the school, Hans Lassiter. Lassiter worked at the controversial Bertie County charter school during the first half of the 2020-21 school year.

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COVID-19 Higher Ed News Top Story

At Appalachian State, students whipsawed over conflicting COVID-19 messages from faculty, administration

Students at Appalachian State University in Boone are getting conflicting messages from faculty and administrators as tensions over the university’s handling of COVID-19 in the spring semester boil over. In an open letter to students sent Sunday evening, Richard Rheingans, a professor in the Department of Sustainable Development, wrote the university is “failing to provide the leadership, guidance and support that students, faculty and the broader community needs.”

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COVID-19 Higher Ed News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

COVID-19 infections could peak at 1,650 per day at UNC-Chapel Hill

Planning document written by UNC epidemiologists shows alarming numbers

UNC epidemiologists project there could be 1,400 to 2,900 positive COVID-19 tests within the first 30 days of classes at the Chapel Hill campus, according to a Jan. 4 brief obtained by Policy Watch.

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Education News Top Story

Controversial NC charter school operator poised to lose charter amid fiscal, governance concerns

Last year ended on a sour note for charter school operator Don McQueen when the Charter School Advisory Board placed Torchlight Academy, which he manages, on probation.  The new year isn’t going well for McQueen, either. 

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Education Top Story

Year in review: Critical Race Theory, mask mandates and Leandro funding made for a tumultuous 2021 in education

Critical Race Theory and face mask mandates dominated the state’s education headlines in 2021, even as students and teachers struggled to recover from a year of remote learning that saw standardized test scores fall to new lows.  Racial and economic inequities in education, exposed by the pandemic, were quickly shoved to the background by a loud minority of irate parents who complained...

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Higher Ed Top Story

Year in review: In higher ed, higher stakes as the UNC system becomes more politicized

It was another tumultuous year for one of the largest public institutions in North Carolina — the UNC System. While the COVID-19 pandemic made 2020 dangerous and unpredictable, 2021 was defined by a much more familiar threat — political influence. A series of highly political controversies revealed the ways in which the direction of the UNC System is, from major policy decisions to single hires, determined by conservative political appointees and wealthy private donors.

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Education News Top Story

“Grossly negligent” NC charter school given 10 days to correct problems or face steep sanctions

Citing “grossly negligent” oversight of Torchlight Academy’s exceptional children program, the State Board of Education on Thursday placed the Raleigh charter school on Level 3 governance probationary status, which gives it 10 days to correct problems or risk further sanctions such as charter revocation.  Torchlight must submit all documents to the Office of Charter Schools (OCS) by Jan. 5 showing that all compliance issues are corrected. The State Board will discuss the school at its Jan. 6 meeting. The K-8 school enrolls approximately 570 students and is managed by charter operator Don McQueen.  

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Higher Ed News Top Story

UNC Board of Trustees approves “outspoken conservative” voice as new provost

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees approved Chris Clemens, a senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, as the university’s new executive vice chancellor and provost after a special meeting held largely in closed-session Thursday. Though the vote was in the brief open session portion of Thursday's meeting, the board took the unusual step of not publicly disclosing what they were voting on or using any names or titles.

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Education Top Story

State regulators urge placing Raleigh-based charter school on probation for failure to comply with state and federal requirements

Review of Torchlight Academy uncovers "altered documents," other failures in serving exceptional children State program monitors scrutinizing Torchlight Academy, a charter school in Raleigh, found “altered documents” while reviewing data related to exceptional children, according to state officials.  These and other findings prompted the Charter School Advisory Board on Tuesday ...

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Education Top Story

Proposed charter school’s application slowed by link to troubled management firm

Previous "compliance" issues of Torchlight Academy Schools, LLC leads advisory board to question proposal for Perquimans County charter A charter school Tony Riddick plans to open in Perquimans County and name after his mother, Elaine Riddick, the best-known victim of North Carolina’s now-defunct eugenics program, has hit a snag because of his relationship with Don McQueen, the operator of Torchlight Academy in Raleigh.

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Education News Top Story

Veteran NC educator, school integration pioneer recognized with state’s highest civilian honor

North Carolina Award recipient Dudley Flood reflects on a lifetime of combating segregation and improving public schools At age 90, Dr. Dudley Flood, an education trailblazer who helped North Carolina’s public schools to integrate, can easily recall attending an all-Black high school.  It was more than 75 years ago in tiny Winton, a town of fewer than 800 residents in Hertford County. 

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

NC State officials say troubled chemistry building has been found safe, but scientists who work there question testing

After a series of tests at N.C. State’s Dabney Hall, home to the Chemistry Department, the school’s Environmental Health and Safety office is saying concerns expressed by staff, faculty and students about air quality are overblown. But chemistry and safety experts in the department say the methodology of the tests was faulty and still show concerning levels of chemical compounds in areas where they shouldn’t appear — including offices where no chemicals are used or stored.

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Education News Top Story

Teacher diversity: Experts tell State Board of Ed that NC can and should do better

Stacey McAdoo always knew that she was gifted. The 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year’s mother had been telling her so her whole life. But McAdoo’s talents were either ignored or overlooked by teachers in her Little Rock, Ark., schools.  That changed in seventh grade when she was assigned to her first Black teacher, Mrs. Anderson. The year was 1988.

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Education Top Story

Nikole Hannah-Jones: “Dark and scary times” for public education

Fresh off the controversy at UNC, the Howard journalism professor pulls few punches in talk to North Carolina schools group After four years of President Donald Trump, a global pandemic and a culture war fueled by the false narrative that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is taught in public schools, educators and their progressive allies are exhausted and understandably so, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones told attendees of the 2021 Color of Education Virtual Summit.

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