Excellent Public Schools Act

Today, the Republican leadership in the NC Senate released details of the Excellent Public Schools Act.  The comprehensive K-12 reform package includes the following components:

  • Adding new reading-intensive instruction for students who struggle with reading.
  • Emphasizing the importance of literacy by ending social promotion of students who can’t read at grade level by the end of third grade.
  • Allowing parents and the public to clearly identify high-achieving, average and failing schools by creating a transparent system to grade schools A to F.
  • Establishing a North Carolina Teacher Corps program – modeled on Teach for America – that will give the best and brightest recent college graduates and mid-career professionals a direct path to teach in low-performing schools where students need the most help.
  • Rewarding the most effective teachers with bonuses and merit-based pay increases.
  • Boosting accountability in the classroom by employing teachers on annual contracts that are renewed based on performance.
  • Providing transportation and non-instructional support funding for the five additional instructional days already added to the school calendar.
  • Allowing state employees to volunteer in a public school literacy program for up to five hours per month.

Without a doubt, the most controversial part of the plan is “employing teachers on annual contracts.”  Although some private and charter schools do this now, traditional public schools maintain a “tenure” or “career status” policy that makes it difficult for school districts to fire ineffective teachers.  Annual contracts for teachers is a sensible plan so long as teachers are provided some due process protections.  Regardless, expect the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) to go bonkers.

Other components of the plan, particularly merit pay and alternative paths to teacher certification, are ideas that have been promoted by the John Locke Foundation for many years.

My biggest complaint? Funds for an additional five days of school.  It is not a productive use of funds.

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

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