North Carolina State Board of Education members, meeting in Raleigh this week, chose to ignore growing concerns regarding academic progress in the state’s public school system and instead spent hours arguing over proposed changes in the state’s social studies curriculum focused on liberal, social justice issues. Metaphorically speaking, they busied themselves rearranging the deck chairs on a disabled and sinking vessel.

The crippled vessel in this image is the statewide public school system that has been brought practically to a standstill for the last nine months, with most students either partially or fully restricted from attending in-person classes due to fear of spreading the Covid-19 virus.

Nationwide, state school systems are making note of the decline in subject retention and academic achievement resulting from the disruption caused by the virus pandemic.

Two states have been very public about the academic declines. Texas and Maryland have reported upwards to a 25 per cent increase in failure rates attributed to the disruption in classroom participation.

In contrast to these and other states that have disclosed data on statewide academic achievements, North Carolina education leaders proved last week that they are not interested in this issue. In fact, there is no indication that the state’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) or the State Board of Education have attempted to aggregate information from local school boards for the public’s consideration.

Some N.C. school systems have been very transparent, such as the Wilson County school system which released data in early December showing that 46% of the students in grades three through twelve who participated in virtual learning have failed at least one class. Attempts to gain similar information from the Carteret County school system have not been successful. This should be a concern for all the county public school parents and taxpayers.

Information about academic achievement is a public issue and disclosure of this data should be shared regularly within the respective school districts and should be aggregated statewide by the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. Armed with this data, the state board and DPI can then develop programs, to include funding, for remediation services for students as they matriculate to the next grade level. But the state board has not found it necessary to pursue this course of action.

Rather than address the most pressing issue for parents, students and teachers statewide, as to when students will return to the classroom or what can be done to remediate the obvious reduction in academic achievement, the Board of Education argued for hours about instituting new social studies standards. The dispute centered around phrases such as “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination” and a directive to “compare competing narratives of the historical development of the U.S. and North Carolina in terms of how each depicts race, women, tribes, identity, ability and religious groups.”

These terms and directives are part of a study to redesign the state’s social studies curriculum that started two years ago and is now coming to a final vote by the board of education for implementation beginning next fall. Republican members of the board, including Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, argued against accepting these changes. A final vote is expected at the board’s next meeting in February.

It is ironic that the state school board was so focused on “systemic” issues of race, sex and gender that it totally ignored the “systemic” loss of educational services and the resulting “systemic” failure to teach the state’s future leaders and labor force.

Immediate action is necessary by the N.C. General Assembly. Legislators must step in and demand both transparency of the data that belongs to the taxpayers and demand better leadership for our state’s education system. Otherwise there will be even greater “systemic” failures with students ill-prepared for the future.

(6) comments

kenwood

Seems the good editors negative comments regarding our school board are based on the need for remote learning, due to the virus pandemic. Few would argue that remote learning is equal to that of in-class sessions. But, one must measure in-class vs remote learning in the light of stopping the spread, thereby lessening the danger to our students as well as their family members. It was the good editor who earlier called for the loosening of restrictions for the benefit of industry, disregarding at that time any dangers imposed on our students and our teaching staff. Criticizing the governor for any move he made to stem the tide, while not contributing anything of a positive nature. Since then we have experienced a spread of the disease, necessitating the continuance of strict controls. Hopefully our students will be able to rebound once the virus is under control and they can return full time to their schools. It's what all, including our school boards want, that is nothing but the best for our students. I am confident that our school boards and staffs will do all they can reasonable do to bring that about.

sick and tired

Why in the world would the BOE worry about going back to school? Your kids can stay at home, fail, fall behind etc while the BOE, teachers, etc all keep getting paid. They are not giving up anything. They are still spending money like it's falling from the sky. What is the BOE incentive? From the looks of it, and to hear them talk, it's more expensive for your kids to stay at home and learn that to go to actual building and learn so they need more funding. All I heard the new administration press secretary say in more than one of the many press conferences. We need more funding to get the kids back to school. We need more funding to make sure they are safe. We need more funding to provide more protection from covid. Need more funding!!!!! What have they been doing with ALL the funding that is suppose to go to running the schools over the past year? The schools have been closed a whole year now, right? Where did that money go?

DeadBolt

Look, folks, as an American, and probably not the sharpest tool in the shed, How many times do the majority need to be told, YOU ALL GOT DUPED?????????? YOU BEEN HAD. Get over it, and dissolve these wasteful do good organizations. Take back your life. Since roughly last March, this whole .. show was a HOAX. Heck ,YOUR state government WAS/ IS IN ON IT. Your Federal government is in on it! Fighting about D's and R;s is done to keep you all doing just that. Truly a shame.

(Edited by staff.)

noitall

I quote from the subject article article, " The dispute centered around phrases such as “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination” and a directive to “compare competing narratives of the historical development of the U.S. and North Carolina in terms of how each depicts race, women, tribes, identity, ability and reliArmygious groups.”

History is quite simple - the NA Indians experienced genocide ordered by Federal Government policy and executed by the US Army. This is true and is documented. Move on. The blacks want reparations. OK, but get in line. Racial quotas are illegal, Diversity is a lame attempt to get around quotas

DeadBolt

Best cotton up, because these 'gov groups' are making ridiculous DEMANDS, and they have burnt their boats. All through this 'tough scamdemic' , what gas the local gov been up to?? ie: one would think, hey, um since everyone is at their wits end, lets curve the sneaky taxes, till this scam passes, but, nope, they found a way on cameras , with no public consent to continue to burden the locals. This may look like political, but these people are deranged, period. Lastly , i would not expose my children to Critical ...., and i sure in the heck would not ENDORSE it , like some other ... will probably chime in on.

(Edited by staff.)

noitall

NC Public Schools will never open and meet all these PC demands. Meanwhile the kids are being cheated. A day lost cannot be recovered - it is gone. At the very least get the basics back up and running,

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