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March 1, 2021 12:21 pm
This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs sits down with Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation to discuss the future of schooling in North Carolina, particularly as it pertains to reopening schools to in-person education, and the rise of school choice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Ralston, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will fold better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters Tracy to Yvette Griggs thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters dictation is front and center in the minds of both lawmakers and parents across North Carolina Gov. Cooper lawmakers and teachers. Like many across the nation continue to debate both the when and how of returning students to schools after nearly a year of remote and virtual learning at the same time, the state school board has come under recent criticism for its changes to the state history curriculum well to talk about all of this we have invited Dr. Terry stoops, director of the Center for effective education at the John Locke foundation here in North Carolina. He is cofounder of Carolina charter Academy and answer. North Carolina was recently appointed by Lieut. Gov. Mark Robinson to serve on the North Carolina charter school advisory board. Dr. Terry stoops. Welcome to family policy matters. Thank you for having me start with the topic that is most on the forefront of people's minds. Students returning to school. First, what is the status of in person learning here in North Carolina yeah and it really depends on where you go to school if your child goes to a private school. Most likely they have been enjoying in-person instruction for some time now private school for the most part have been in person been late last year.
Even the beginning of the school year. Last year course of your homeschool Joe, you've been in person as well and many of our public charter schools have opted for in person instruction and really it depends on school district that may have been the most resistant to in person instruction and you have some school districts but decided very early on Durham County schools comes to mind that they would stay in a virtual educational environment for the remainder of the school year. The big since change their mind on that but currently we have around nine school districts in North Carolina that have no in person instruction where the children only received their education through online or remote learning environments that may change soon.
With the introduction of a bill by the Gen. assembly to get those school districts and others to provide the in person learning option, but for the most part, the remainder of the districts in North Carolina are providing some sort of in person instruction. Some school districts are providing some in-person instruction every day summer providing some every other week or in staggered schedules so there is really hard to characterize the type of in-person instruction being provided many of our school district, but we know that very few at this point are completely in a remote learning environment and that may change very soon.
So what do you think the local school districts have been the most resistant as he said, well, Gov. Cooper provided them the opportunity to open at their discretion.
But there's been so much pressure on school districts, especially by Peter organization, the North Carolina Association of educators comes to mind that have been resistant to going back to in person instruction for fear of transmission of Cova 19 what we know about Tobit is that there is very little possibility of transmission and schools for as long as certain requirements are met.
Social distancing masks and other measures make a very safe environment.
In fact, both the barn administration and the trump administration agreed that in person instruction was not only possible but desirable and was not a threat to the health of teachers and staff and yet you have groups that represent teachers and staff pushing back on school boards and encouraging them to resist the parental demand for in person instruction and some have have unfortunately folded to those demand others have listened to the desire of parents and given some opportunity for in-person instruction. You mentioned action by the North Carolina legislature on this front. That legislature just passed Senate Bill 37 in person learning choice for families requiring North County public schools to offer in person learning for those who want it.
As of today Chris we know things are changing daily. This is February 24. What is the status of that bill is the governor's desk and he must take some action by February 27 and right now we are not sure what action that's going to be can veto it or could become law without his signature. If he does veto it will go back to the Gen. assembly where most likely be overridden.
There was some democratic support for the bill.
There were three Democrats in the Senate and the howls that voted for the in person learning choice for families. Bill and it would most likely be overridden if it went back to the Gen. assembly. This bill is a step in the right direction. I know that there are some of the visuals, but hoped it would be more aggressive. This still gives school board some latitude in how they go back to in person instruction again were only talking about a handful of districts but allows them to go to either a plan a which is five days of in person instruction with minimal social distancing or plan B which could be some hybrid plan where students are in different types of schedules were social distancing is observed. And of course in all the scenarios masks with bill be required so the governor have some choices to make here and I think he also recognizes that families have a strong desire to resume instruction in an in person education environment. Let's switch gears a little bit because there was a controversy recently that we all heard about where the state board of education here in North Carolina was discussing some changes to North Carolina's history curriculum. And of course we saw that North Carolina's new Lieut. Gov. who is also a member of the state Board of Education was pitted against the majority of the state board members. What was that all about North Carolina revises its academic standards periodically, and in 2019 that states social studies standards were up for review and revision, and many may not remember in 2010 there was a battle over the social studies standards. Even then, when the state decided that I'm not quite sure why but they decided that they would focus on US history after 1877 after reconstruction and basically give very little attention to the history that occurred before that, just for the 2019, we have a different type of controversy with a majority of the state Board of Education appointed by Gov. Cooper trying to revise the social studies standards to make them more woke to make them more attentive to left-wing ideology and this really was problematic.
And of course Lieut. Gov. found it problematic as well. Now there was no question that art history should deal with difficult subjects should deal with the difficult history that students need to know that there was no balance in the standards talking about the great things that America has done the opportunities that it provides the genius of our Constitution, and so Lieut. Gov. along with other members of the state board were appointed by Gov. Flory fought back and pushed back along with the newly elected at that point Superintendent of Public instruction Catherine Truitt to try to get more balance well in the end. Unfortunately, we didn't get the balance that you really needed in North Carolina social studies standard is still very tilted toward a very negative view of our history and really, you know, you think about what social studies standards are and why they're important and their importance because they provide the foundation by which our citizens become adults and become active in civil life during the founding year of the reason why the founders were so passionate about the need for public education blokes because they wanted an educated electorate.
They wanted people to go to the polls with not only an understanding of the issues, but in understanding the candidate and understanding about where their vote fits in to the vision of the nation to the rule of law to the Constitution both the national constitutions they can't vision and their local government and so that's why this is so important and that's why there were so much passion about social studies standards was because of the importance that social studies plays in ensuring that we have an educated electorate what I fear is that the standard there were ultimately approved by the state Board of Education don't give our children the type of information they need to be successful as a citizen and participate fully in civic life. The next frontier. Here is hoping that school boards and I'll be working in the many other organizations will be working to ensure that school boards know about the flexibility that they possess to providing curriculum that would be an improvement over the state and are approved recently. These two issues. These main two issues that we talked about in this radio show has exacerbated. I think some frustration with parents regarding public education. Talk about the trajectory of student enrollment and public-private homeschooling, and the decline in public school enrollment that we seen during the pandemic will absolutely and there's been a decline in public school enrollment for a few years now, it's smaller than the 10,000 kids each year but were seeing a surge in the number of students enrolling in public charter, private, and especially homeschools currently around 21% of North Carolina students attend a private home or public charter school and that number is most likely going to increase when we get our final moment members here this summer when we know that there's been a strong demand for homeschooling for private ruling and are charter schools have increased probably by around 9000 students and that continues to eat into the market share for our school district enrollment, which of course remained a strong majority of the numbers in North Carolina will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
That market share continues to erode as more parents find that the education that they're receiving in their districts is unsatisfactory for any number of reasons. The real change with covert the real turning point is that parents that never thought that they would seek out school choices because they bought a house in a leafy suburbs. Their child went to a really great district school.
They made sure of that by buying that house in just the right area and making sure that their child was assigned to that great war. Those parents never thought that they would ever have to think about school choice and then covert hit and then all of a sudden their child was being told that they had to stay home for an indefinite amount of time parents were scrambling to find arrangements for those children, especially those working parents that necessarily have the luxury of staying home, their children and so those parents who never thought about choice were suddenly thrust into the need for finding different educational options for their children then so that I think will be the game changer for school choice in North Carolina is that those parents were seeking out private schools that have that in person instruction on day one.
They were seeking out charter schools that provided in person instruction or they were deciding to go to a homeschool so we're going to see.
I believe a real Porsche real significant increase in the percentage of student that are in these educational alternatives, working to be very soon here approaching the situation where one of four children, North Carolina will be in a school of choice, and that will put North Carolina in the top tier of school choice states Dr. stoops tell us where our listeners can go to follow your work at the John Locke foundation. If you go to John Locke.orc or Carolina journal.com.
There you can find links so if you look for articles by me or by Bob Luedtke, Robert Lukey, then you can find our ongoing work on school choice teacher pay and every other important issue that's going on in education. If you want to give me a call here at the John Locke foundation 919-828-3876 and look forward to chatting with everyone. My email is T stoops at Locke HQ that flock with an E.org Dr. Terry stoops, director of the Center for effective education at the John Locke foundation you so much for being with us on family policy matters. You can listing the family policy matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plenitude in again next week to listen to the show online and to learn more about NC families work to inform, encourage and inspire families across Carolina go to our website it NC family.award that's NC family.org.
Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family