The so called "Back to Basics" Bill passed which mandates teaching of Cursive (up to the 5th grade) and memorization of Multiplication Tables. Teachers are uncertain of its relationship to the Common Core standards as well as the research findings that connect cursive writing and times tables to increased student success. Up on the Senate side is S375, which offers many changes including caps on class sizes, especially in lower grade levels. Coupled with the desire on behalf of the Governor to reduce lower grade teacher assistants, this could cause a significant impact on the quality of elementary education. To incent bright high school seniors to enter into STEM Education, House Bill HR997 introduces the "STEM Teacher Scholarship Program", a loan program targeting specifically STEM and special education teachers. In this competitive program, recipients would receive up to $5,000 per year to attend a UNC system school whereupon graduation enters the teaching profession to serve the students of North Carolina. Similar to the now defunct Teaching Fellows Program, these loans would be forgiven after 4 years of service to a North Carolina public school or 3 years at a low-performing public school. The initial funding for this program is proposed for $2.5 Million in FY13/14 to be increased to $5 Million in FY14/15.
In the wake of ESEA flexibility waivers, which have replaced NCLB regulations in over 30 states, the House Education and Workforce Committee staff are now debating taking up reauthorization of ESEA. Markup of the bill is planned in the coming months with delivery to the house floor by July. Given the swift movement of such a large piece of legislation, it seems that this bill may again be plagued by partisan language and a lack of contemporary stakeholder input similar to that of 2010/2011. Additionally, Senator Harkin (Chairman of the powerful H.E.L.P. Committee of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) has mentioned since February that ESEA reauthorization would be up before he retires in 2014. This would likely have similar features to the bill from 2011 where states would be required to adopt "college and career ready standards" as well as the elimination of Annual Yearly Progress or AYP.
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Submitted by Rebecca Hite
NCSLA Legislative Liaison