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News roundup: Teacher pay rankings, pandemic recovery, special education funding, and more

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Common and urgent implications of pandemic recovery released in new report

The North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office and the ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government have released the findings from a statewide series of pandemic recovery focus groups, according to a press release.

The new report includes regional feedback on the effectiveness of relief and recovery programs, remaining challenges or concerns, and recommendations for continuing to build more resilient communities.

Some of the most common and urgent themes from the report include:

  • Housing security is the most cited concern.
  • Internet access should be a local and state priority. 
  • Child care is community care.

More than 500 people across the state voiced interest in joining a focus group. From this pool, NCPRO and ncIMPACT selected over 100 participants consisting of local government, business, and civic leaders for 16 regionally organized discussions, in person or virtually, through February and March of 2024. The goal was to identify areas of highest concern and help guide policymakers on next steps in North Carolina’s recovery.

“The pandemic was an unprecedented test for our local communities, and their experiences have provided us valuable insight,” said Stephanie McGarrah, executive director of NCPRO. “By understanding the successes and challenges of previous initiatives, we can build a stronger future, whatever it may bring.”

Here is the report, along with regional summaries.

BEST NC’s ‘Facts and Figures: Education in North Carolina’

“Each year, the Facts & Figures guide provides a detailed look at data from across the North Carolina education continuum to promote data-informed decision-making by educators, advocates, and policymakers throughout the state,” says the press release announcing a news edition of BEST NC‘s Facts and Figures: Education in North Carolina.

The latest edition includes:

  • 20-year enrollment trends in North Carolina schools.
  • The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program.
  • Teacher Supplemental Assistance Allotment.
  • Restart Schools in North Carolina.
  • School expenditures in North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Early literacy in North Carolina.

BEST NC intends Facts & Figures to empower “us to debate big ideas grounded in a shared set of facts.” Learn more and download your copy here.

Bellwether’s ‘Splitting the Bill’ series, including a look at special education funding

To support policymakers, advocates, and other education leaders, Bellwether‘s Splitting the Bill series explains the nuts and bolts of state education finance.

Recently, as part of this series, Bellwether published three briefs examining federal funding for special education: 

  1. How Do School Finance Systems Support Students With Disabilities?  
  2. What are the Major Policy and Funding Components of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)?  
  3. What are the Core Funding Components of the “Grants to States” Funding (IDEA Part B, Section 611) in IDEA? 

The Bellwether website says, “We have also developed a tool as a companion to these briefs that allows users to examine federal and state special education revenue (total revenue and per-pupil revenue) and special education student enrollment trends over time in their state and nationally.  The tool aims to provide more tailored information to individual state stakeholders — policymakers, education leaders, advocates, families, and educators — to support them as they work to ensure special education funding equity. ”

NC Education Corps has a new look

Courtesy of NC Education Corps

NC Education Corps — which provides high-impact, in-person literacy and math tutoring for elementary school students — has launched a new website, which is easy to navigate for tutors and partners. It also has a great landing page where you can explore the impact of the corps.

NC Education Corps also has a new logo, and according to a recent email, the logo represents a vibrant mosaic of colors forming an abstract and stylized pencil. “Each hue represents the diverse individuals that make up our state,” says the email, “coming together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. The design propels the eye upwards, signifying our collective journey toward brighter futures. The new logo is a nod to our history, a mark of progress, and a beacon of our dynamic spirit.”

The NEA’s annual reports

The National Education Association has released four new annual reports, according to a press release, examining educator pay and school funding from pre-K through college:

  • “Teacher Salary Benchmark Report” provides information from over 12,000 local school districts on starting teacher salaries and salaries at other points of the teaching career continuum.
Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.