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Understanding the state’s education commissions

Numerous commissions and task forces study various education issues across the state — from the quality of the entire educational system to teacher preparation and school finance. It can be confusing. Here is some information on what they each do:

Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education

Gov. Roy Cooper started a commission that first met in November made up of education, business, and nonprofit leaders to address the ongoing Leandro lawsuit and its findings. The courts ruled the state was not meeting its constitutional mandate to provide a “sound, basic education” to every student in the state. 

In July, both the state and the plaintiff school districts in the case filed a joint motion to the court calling for an independent consultant to make recommendations on what must be done for the state to meet its constitutional standard. Through an executive order the week before, Cooper created the Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education, comprised of 17 members appointed by the governor, to work “in conjunction” with the consultant.

Chair Brad Wilson said the commission will provide a report to the court focusing on the “how,” of the three components a 2002 ruling deemed necessary to fulfill the constitutional duty:

  1. Staffing each classroom with a competent, well-trained teacher. 
  2. Staffing each school with a competent, well-trained principal.
  3. Identifying the resources necessary to ensure that all children, including those at-risk, have an equal opportunity to obtain a sound, basic education. 

In its most recent meeting in February, the commission heard presentations on school funding across the state. The commission’s next meeting is April 10 at a location yet to be determined. The commission, according to the executive order, must meet at least quarterly. The commission has 45 days after the consultant makes its recommendations to publish its report. Both reports, from the commission and the consultant, are intended to help the parties in the lawsuit draft a consent order for the court’s consideration.


myFutureNC, a cross-sector group with representatives from business, education, nonprofits, and philanthropy, is establishing statewide educational and economic goals. It is co-chaired by UNC System President Margaret Spellings, Bank of America Chief Administrative Officer Andrea Smith, and Medical Mutual Holdings Chief Executive Officer Dale Jenkins.

The commission’s work was called for in the UNC Board of Governors’ strategic plan, adopted in 2017. Spellings has drawn attention to the state’s lack of a statewide educational attainment goal. This commission’s work, Spellings said, comes out of that concern. The commission will release one report in 2019 sharing its findings.

The John M. Belk Endowment, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Goodnight Education Foundation fund the commission through grants.

Kristy Teskey is the executive director of myFutureNC. The commission is broken into three committees that total 60 members. Each committee — P-12, postsecondary, and workforce — also has subject matter experts.

The commission has five total meetings scheduled along with listening sessions for community input throughout the state. The first two meetings were in November and February. Its next meeting is in Wilmington in May. Last week, the commission’s first listening session was in Greensboro. EducationNC’s Reach NC Voices project is assisting with the facilitation of the listening sessions. 

Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission

The Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC), a new permanent commission which came out of 2017 legislation reworking educator preparation programs and teacher licensure, reports to the State Board of Education.

The group, comprised of eight appointees from each the House and the Senate as well as Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson and Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin, has been fleshing out its bylaws and processes since last fall. In its most recent meeting in February, the commission, chaired by Greene County Schools Superintendent Patrick Miller, continued discussions around improving teacher licensure, holding preparation programs accountable, strengthening the teacher pipeline, and measuring the success of educators. 

The commission’s work came from Senate Bill 599, which allowed entities other than institutions of higher education to offer educator preparation programs for the first time. The law called for the commission to set standards for those programs and hold them accountable, as well as oversee all aspects of teacher licensure. 

B-3 Interagency Council

The B-3 Interagency Council, which first met at the end of January, is made up of representatives from both the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Created by the General Assembly in its budget last year, the permanent commission’s goal is to foster collaboration between the two agencies to develop an early education system from birth to third grade. 

Historically, services for children before they enter kindergarten have been under DHHS supervision, while DPI oversees K-12 education. The council is charged with overseeing a coordinated birth to third grade system and creating an evaluation system to measure the educational progress of students from birth through the end of high school. 

The council must publish a report by April 15 on its initial review of specific recommendations from DHHS and DPI focusing on students’ successful transition between pre-K and kindergarten. Those recommendations can be found here in section 12B.5. A report with the group’s final findings is due to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, the Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services, and the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations by February 15, 2019.

The council includes 12 voting members, including four public members appointed by both the House and Senate. DHHS Deputy Secretary of Human Services Susan Perry-Manning and DPI Associate Superintendent of Early Education Pamela Shue co-chair the council. Both Superintendent Mark Johnson and Secretary Mandy Cohen serve as ex-officio members with voting privileges. Two members of both the House and Senate also serve in nonvoting advisory roles.

Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units

The legislature created the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units last year as a temporary committee to study if and how larger local school districts should be divided into multiple districts. 

The study committee is comprised of 13 members — six House appointees, five Senate appointees, and two co-chairs: Rep. William Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, and Sen. David Curtis, R-Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln

In its first meeting in February, members heard presentations from legislative research staff on the history of school district consolidation, education funding, and the academic performance of students in different sizes of school districts. 

The committee’s next meeting is on March 14. Brawley said its focus will be on potential issues district divisions could create. The group will meet on two other occasions, he said, to discuss nationwide trends of district sizes’ effects on student achievement and strategies other large school systems across the country are using to meet students’ needs. The committee must submit its final report to the General Assembly by May 1, 2018.  To receive meeting notices via email, go here.

Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform

The Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform is a temporary task force studying how the state allocates money to districts and schools and creating a new finance structure based on a weighted student formula.

The task force, which was created by the General Assembly in its 2017 budget, is chaired by Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, and Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover. Besides the chairs, there are eight House and eight Senate appointees with voting powers. There is also one advisory task force member from the House.

The state currently gives money to local school districts through allotments, or line items categorized for specific uses. Each sum of money is determined by the district’s average daily membership (ADM). Certain districts receive supplemental funding based on characteristics of the district or the students, like income, county size, special needs, or limited English proficiency. 

The weighted student formula model would give a base amount of money to each individual student in the state’s public schools, adding more funding for specific needs of students.

In its most recent meeting in February, the task force discussed the funding system for charter schools. Its final report must be made to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by the beginning of October. Go here to sign up for meeting notices via email.

Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is a temporary body created by the General Assembly as part of its 2017 legislative research commission. The committee is studying the quality of services in the state for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. 

The committee’s focus is on ensuring smooth transitions between educational and work environments, looking at services through the education system and state and local government. The committee is co-chaired by Rep. John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg, and Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover. Besides the chairs, there are eight voting members from both the House and Senate and two ex-officio members from each. 

Go here to sign up for meeting notices via email.

House Select Committee on School Safety 

House Speaker Tim Moore announced a new House committee on school safety in late February following the Parkland, Florida shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 students and school staff. Its goal, Moore said, is to examine ways to improve school safety for elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the state. 

The committee is co-chaired by Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett and Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston and includes 44 House members as regular voting members, along with Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, as vice-chair.

Its meeting schedule is yet to be determined. To receive meeting notices via email, go here.

Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, which reports to the legislature and meets between legislative sessions, is comprised of  legislators from both the House and the Senate. The committee addresses issues across the education continuum. 

The committee is co-chaired by Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, Rep. Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus, and Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Franklin, Wake and includes 16 voting members besides the chairs, nine advisory members, and three vice-chairs.

Issues addressed by the committee in meetings since the 2017 legislative session have ranged from virtual charter school funding to teacher licensure system issues. The committee is meeting again today. Its meeting history has fluctuated from year to year. In 2016-17, the committee did not meet at all and did not submit a report to the legislature. In 2015-16, the committee met only once. 

Go here to receive meeting notices via email.

Board of Postsecondary Education Credentials

Created by the legislative budget in 2017, the Board of Postsecondary Education Credentials, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, is charged with the task of ensuring the state’s adults have the necessary skills to fill economic needs. The board should ensure by 2025, according to statute, that the appropriate percentage of citizens hold postsecondary credentials best suited for industries’ demands. 

The permanent board is under the Community Colleges System Office and is made up of nine members other than the lieutenant governor, appointed by entities across educational, health, and workforce spheres. Among its responsibilities is recommending what educational opportunities are needed through the state’s universities, community colleges, and other entities for individuals young and old and in and out of school.

The board, according to law, “shall identify alternative ways in which people gain valuable workforce skills and experience, such as on‑the‑job training, that are not represented by four‑year or two‑year degrees and the types of credentials used to signify competence of a certain level upon successful completion of the alternative training experience.”

Its first report was due to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by the beginning of March, with another report on its progress and recommendations due by March 2019. 

Charter Schools Advisory Board

The Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB) is a permanent board dedicated to the oversight of all charter schools across the state. The board makes recommendations to the State Board of Education on groups creating new charter schools, whether or not current charters should be renewed, and the performance of charter schools.

The board meets monthly and has an application and interview process for new charter schools. CSAB is meant to hold the rapidly growing network of charter schools accountable and make recommendations to close schools when necessary. 

There has been an increase in charter schools from 98 schools with about 38,000 students in 2010 to 173 charter schools serving more than 100,600 students in 2018.

Alex Quigley is CSAB’s current chair, who was appointed by the state board. There are 10 other voting members — four appointed by the House, three by the Senate, one by the state board, one by the lieutenant governor, and one by the governor — along with one non-voting superintendent. 

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the North Carolina State Lottery

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the North Carolina State Lottery is a permanent bipartisan group of legislators examining the state lottery and making recommendations to the legislature for improvement of the lottery’s effectiveness.

The committee is chaired by Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, and Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Moore, Randolph and also includes 12 other voting members and two non-voting members, half of which were appointed by the House and half by the Senate. Its charge is to study the “administration, budgeting, and policies of the lottery.”

Go here to sign up for meeting notices via email.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the date and location for myFutureNC’s next meeting. It is in Wilmington in May.

Update: myFutureNC plans to release one instead of two reports.

Editor’s Note: EducationNC CEO Mebane Rash is serving as a subject matter expert to the P-12 committee of the commission. The Goodnight Education Foundation contributes to EducationNC.

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is the early childhood reporter for EducationNC.