Saturday, May 05, 2007

Education 5-04-07

The House Education Subcommittee on Pre-School, Elementary and Secondary Education held its first public hearing this week as part of a new initiative to improve the state's graduation rate. Speaker Joe Hackney, who proposed the initiative and has been its chief supporter, attended the hearing along with subcommittee chairs Reps. Parmon and Fisher. Enthusiastic local school administrators, teachers, parents, students, local leaders, and concerned citizens were among the members of the audience and several of them shared their ideas about how to reduce the number of dropouts. Some presenters suggested expanding the learning centers established by the Communities In Schools program, looking at ways to better connect the business community and the education community, raising the compulsory school attendance age to 18, bringing more mentors into schools, and finding more incentives to keep certified teachers in areas they are needed the most. The subcommittee will hold its second and final public hearing at Southeast Raleigh High School in Raleigh at 6 p.m., Tuesday May 8th. The House budget proposal released this week set aside $7 million for this initiative. The money will be used to help pay for pilot programs at schools that want to implement programs proven to reduce to the dropout rate.

Teachers could take two personal days a year without having to pay for substitutes under a bill, House Bill 906, approved by the State Personnel Committee. Teachers in North Carolina are given five personal days a year, but have to pay for a substitute if they use them. The bill sponsored by House Democrats seeks to bring teachers more in line with the leave policies of other professionals. It now goes to the Education Committee for consideration.

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