Education

New Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison has said improving teacher morale is one of his top priorities.  He's hired an outside consultant to survey employees about morale in schools. 

Morrison has gotten an earful about low teacher morale in the district since he arrived.  He's asked teachers to come to town hall meetings to get their perspectives.  Now, he wants all employees to take a survey that attempts to answer these questions. 

timlewisnm/Flickr

Students across North Carolina already are used to taking standardized state tests at the end of the year to measure their progress.  This school year the state is adding a couple dozen tests to measure how effective teachers are at getting students to learn.

High school students will be tested in 22 areas, many of them new, including Geometry and Chemistry.  Kids in grades four through eight will be tested in social studies as well as science most of those years. 

The state plans to use these tests to track student growth and tie that to teacher evaluations. 

State lawmakers approved a budget last week and Republicans praised it by pointing out that it sent more money to schools this year without raising taxes. But some Democrats said, "No, it actually cut schools budget." So who's right?

Mountain State University To Lose Accreditation

Aug 24, 2012

A university based in West Virginia with branches in Mooresville and Hickory will soon lose its accreditation. Mountain State University has about 140 students enrolled at those campuses. The regional Higher Learning Commission posted on its website Tuesday that the school had failed to correct major problems which include leadership, learning support for students, and inadequate financial resources. The commission notified the university of those problems in February. The chairman of the university's board of trustees Jerry Ice says the school has made significant changes since then.

A 3-percent pay raise for CMS teachers is in question today. Governor Perdue vetoed a budget that would have made those raises possible saying lawmakers need to send even more funds to schools. Republican state lawmakers are at this hour attempting to override that veto. The action coincides with CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison's first day on the job. In this segment, WFAE's Julie Rose discusses the issues with WFAE's All Things Considered host, Mark Rumsey.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools has been trying to get its best teachers and principals in the most struggling schools through an initiative called strategic staffing. The schools have made big gains, but they're still far from where the district expected them to be at this point. 

CMS: Back To School

Aug 24, 2012

The buses have been making their trial runs around the city, hundreds of new teachers have been hired, the pencils, paper and notebooks have been purchased. That's right, it's back to school time at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools! We'll hear from a trio of journalists about the issues facing CMS as we head into the first day of school next week. Join us for a conversation about the leadership of new Superintendent Heath Morrison, the reaction to test scores around the district and how school officials are planning to improve them, and much more.

CMS Police Go Door-To-Door Uptown

Aug 20, 2012

Police officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District are going door-to-door Uptown giving parents the run-down on bus changes and security restrictions during the Democratic National Convention.

CMS Police Chief Bud Cesena says the first week of September will pose some challenges for the 372 students and their families who live inside the I-277 loop.

"Some bus stops - because they're in the hot zone - won't exist any more," says Cesena. "So we're making sure the children and their parents know exactly where to go."

Charlotte Mecklenburg School teachers headed back to work Thursday to start preparing for students' arrival on August 27.  The district doesn't expect to be scrambling to hire teachers as the school year starts like in past years.  CMS Auxiliary Services Director Kathryn Block says CMS has a lot of hiring out the way and is in good shape at this point.  The district has filled nearly 99 percent of teaching positions. 

"It's not about putting a body in the seat.  It is about the quality of the teachers we're putting in our classrooms," says Block.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools has been trying to get its best teachers and principals in the most struggling schools through an initiative called strategic staffing. The schools have made big gains, but they're still far from where the district expected them to be at this point. Several school board members voiced frustration about that at Wednesday night's meeting.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools has released student end of year test scores for all of its schools, except two. West Charlotte and Harding high schools didn't have enough students taking the tests to post official scores for those schools. The state requires a school to test 95 percent of students in a course. Last night, school board members asked what happened.

Superintendent Heath Morrison questioned whether leaders at West Charlotte tried hard enough to get students to take them. But at Harding he said it was a different case.

Kids spend a lot of time playing video games. They spend hours fighting zombies, building underground worlds, waging war, and shooting pigs. Video games can be addictive and an escape. They're just the thing that some teachers are trying to bring to the classroom.

Joel Bonasera is a 7th grade math and science teacher at Albemarle Road Middle School. He knew his students played video games, but he didn't realize the full extent until he overheard a sweet, friendly girl in his class.

'Stalking' Jon Stewart and United World Colleges

Aug 13, 2012

Part One: Stalking Jon Stewart
The DNC is almost upon us and vendors are gearing up all over the region to serve the thousands of convention attendees expected to arrive. But what about small businesses that dot the areas near uptown? Many say they don’t know how to gain the attention of visitors so one business owner came up with a novel idea. Her personal mission? "To get Jon Stewart to FABO Café for a cup of coffee while he is in Charlotte filming his show during the DNC."  We’ll hear her story. 
Guest

Charlotte Mecklenburg school teachers are getting ready for the start of the school year. There are classrooms to arrange, lesson plans to put together and, this year, a whole lot of technology to learn.

Entering Middle School

Aug 8, 2012
Flickr/SingSkateRockLuv

It’s no secret that something changes when kids enter Middle School. Developmentally, emotionally and socially, middle school is where some kids really struggle, and the changes in their bodies and socially can affect their grades, their relationships with friends and with their parents. We’ll be joined by a panel of experts who have been helping middle schoolers -  and their parents - navigate the waters of middle school, and hear from you, too, when Charlotte Talks.

Guests

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools has had a new superintendent for a month now. Heath Morrison has been praised by parents, teachers, and even state lawmakers as superintendent of Washoe County Schools in Reno, Nevada. And so far, he hasn't had any naysayers in Charlotte. But most of what he's doing is listening at this point.

WFAE's Lisa Miller sat down with Morrison to discuss his impressions about CMS so far.

Thursday August 2, 2012

Jul 29, 2012
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

New CMS Superintendent  Heath Morrison
As students, parents, teachers and administrators gear up for school to begin later this month at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, we sit down with CMS’ new superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison. We’ll talk about Dr. Morrison’s entry plan, the long term budget struggles that the school system has faced and what he hopes to do to best use the money the system has, and talk about the goals of his series of town hall meetings, which begin tonight (Aug. 2). Join us with your questions for the superintendent as well.

Nearly one-third of American workers get fewer than six hours of sleep a night. That's according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And with increasing attention to disorders, especially sleep apnea, the number of sleep centers across the country has increased. In response, UNC Charlotte and UNC-Chapel Hill have teamed up to offer an online degree in neurodiagnostics and sleep science. The schools tout it as the first bachelor’s program of its kind in the country.

WFAE file photo

North Carolina Virtual Academy would be based in Cabarrus County, but it would take students from across the whole state. The students would take all classes online. The North Carolina State Board of Education approved nine new charter schools to open next year. A proposed online charter school isn't among them. The group is now taking legal action against the board. 

After the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, many colleges amended their policies to make clear they could force students to withdraw if they considered them homicidal or suicidal. But a change in Federal law now says that taking such actions is discrimination, particularly if the student is only a direct threat to himself.

However, making that distinction is difficult. And now, university administrators are confused about what they can and cannot do with students who are a direct threat to themselves or others. The issue hinges on the definition of direct threat.

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