Monday, February 17, 2014

Can governor save the (makeup) day?

Plenty of teachers,  parents and other school employees are eagerly waiting to hear whether Gov. Pat McCrory can provide a waiver to help school districts avoid cutting into spring break or holding Saturday school to make up for last week's snow closings.

McCrory in emergency mode Friday
The question is how much ability he has to tinker with the state's school calendar law. The staff at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction was delving into that issue Friday.  The conclusion:  The latest version of the calendar law removed the ability of DPI or the state Board of Education to waive makeup days,  said spokeswoman Vanessa Jeter.

But can the governor do it?  "I do not know,"  Jeter said.

If that decision rests with the General Assembly,  the timing could be tough.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and other districts facing shortened spring breaks have those makeup days scheduled in April.  The legislature convenes May 14.

Update: State Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Mecklenburg Republican, called after a Monday afternoon meeting with House Speaker Thom Tillis, where legislators discussed ways to "tweak" the plan to allow more flexibility.  She said the consensus was that most districts already have the leeway they need if they focus on meeting the minimum 1,025 hours of instruction,  rather than counting days.

The makeup-day hullabaloo illustrates how different discussions can be when an issue is immediate,  rather than abstract.  Invite people to spend time pondering all the limits and trade-offs that come with the state calendar law,  and most say "no thanks."  Put the plan that's approved by those who do care into effect,  and boy,  do people have better ideas.

Likewise,  no politician wants to call for reducing the time kids are required to spend in class  ...  unless the alternative is a makeup schedule that people hate.  Then the person who saves spring break may look like a hero.

After spending two snowy days reporting on the scheduling dilemma and reading lots of opinions on social media,  I had pretty much decided that scrapping a couple of makeup days  --  either through state waiver or tallying classroom hours instead of days  --  was the only option that wouldn't make anyone mad.  But I'm not sure that's true.  People like bus drivers and teacher assistants,  who tend to need their whole paycheck,  lose hours and money when schools close.  Eliminate the makeup days and you eliminate their chance to make up the wages.

There's just no such thing as a popular weather decision.


Anonymous said...

Hey Kids, now you are going to see just how determined Parents are about a great education.

Just read the comments below and remember them.

Anonymous said...

In the state of Georgia, if the Governor declares the day a state of emergency for that county, then the makeup days are waived. Maybe it is time we start listening to our neighboring states about many of the things we are so backwards about. Teacher Pay, k-8 schools, Schedules with no flexibility.. etc

Anonymous said...

Maybe the General ASSembly should not have buried the revisions to the calendar law within the budget bill. Maybe some dialogue would have been better.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:41.

Great education? Where you talkin' about?

Anonymous said...

I doubt adding time to the high school day would be helpful.

The students have a hard enough time now making it through the 90 minute Block schedule. They would all be asleep.

gwalkerruns said...

As Ms. Helms said, CMS already exceeds the minimum number of hours (by 55 hours) so it doesn't need a waiver. Problem solved. In fact CMS always exceeds the minimum so it doesn't need to schedule makeups in its calender.

Wiley Coyote said...


Yeah,let's listen to the state of Georgia.

Total failure in the first Snowmageddon a couple of weeks ago that stranded thousands, including kids.

Also, one of the biggest school testing scandals in the country came from Georgia a couple of years ago.

Teacher pay is down -5.7% in Georgia. Not as much as NC, but still going south, just like SC and VA.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Suck it up! If education is first like we say THEN WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?! Any adult who put non-refundable money down on a vacation that is clearly marked as possible make up days... gets what they get. I find it increasinly difficult to say to my children education is the most important responsibility they have when all around them ADULTS are doing otherwise! With proficiency rates down approximately 30% I don't see why we are even having this discussion!

Anonymous said...

I thought graduation rates were 81% now, no worries!

For what it is worth said...

10:45, I had a conversation with a teacher and I was appalled at what their principal was demanding for the rest of the year. And this was for a grade that is not subject to EOG/EOY testing.

CMS tried this extended day several years ago at Billingsley and the teachers suffered. Turn over was astonding. Now, ES teachers are into the second year of this ridiculous extended day because some ivory tower person said it would save money and now we have found out that was not the case. It was solely created to pay bus drivers more.

Sadly the teachers are the pawns in this challenge war the legislators have called the educrats bluff on. Graduation rates are up only because the requirements have gone down. What was meant to help the minoroty kids has not. Recruiters already know the low value the CMS diploma is from certain high schools. We've only hurt the kids who had the most potential for our society. Pretty much the same result found with Head Start.

Anonymous said...

Would it not make more sense for the NC legislative session to begin in January? That way, the budget could be completed in March or April, giving counties and school districts enough time before the end of the fiscal year to make their budgets. If the session started in January, the legislature would be in session right now and could make some decisions regarding makeup days too.

Anonymous said...

1:15, I think this is what they call a short session. The budget had been set for this coming year already but they still would have time to tweak it some as Gov Pat has saod he is trying to find the money to up some fo the teachers' pay. There is an overall teacher pay raise in this proposed budget already.

The budget was done somewhat on faith that the NC ecomony would improve and increased revenue would come in. And it has. But however, NC still has unemployment tax loan to pay back to the feds and Medicaid increases are eating up all and more of the revenue increases.

Anonymous said...

Pay raise for neophytes only

Go work at Burger King you future teachers of the year and do yourself and your family a great favor !

Anonymous said...

Teachers are leaving. The new payday for young teachers is crap. The young teachers at my school are laughing. Its election year theatrics. 30 something's with kids just got punched in the gut. older teachers are retiring. I have never seen teachers leave in the middle of the school year. The conversation is not "are you leaving?". It's when, and how soon.

Anonymous said...

DC would have a scandal, if it was really ever investigated.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Mcory and Tillis care about NC public schools. I liked Pat as mayor but he has changed. Tillis seems arrogant. He is not a Carolina. This is not how we treat our teachers. How can they just gave the youngest teachers a raise? They just started, what about all the teachers that have stuck it out? This is not right. This is not the state that i grew up in.

Anonymous said...

Loyalty is rewarded in my company. Politicians do not understand loyalty.

Anonymous said...

I think they understand party loyalty. Screw teachers because most teachers vote democratic.

If public school fails they can just point at it and say, "See we told you the public sector sucks. Time to privatize everything because business never gets things wrong."

I don't see how you can be trusted to do what's best for public education when you want to abolish public education.

For what it is worth said...

Politicians understand that NC (and the past democrats) have thrown mountains of money at public education the last 2 decades and have nearly nothing to show for it. They have seen most of the money get redirected to ivory tower and central office staff and does not make it to the schoolhouse. They understand that only easing the graduation requirements like happened last year increases the graduation rate. They understand that moderate budget cutting for the last 3 years has not affected graduation rates, SAT scores and EOY tests results.

Our politicians know more than you think. Sadly the teachers are caught in the middle of this tussle with educrats. I do feel sorry for them. I see the damaged children (damaged by their family units) they have to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone with a child in a public school in North Carolina care? I have lived in this state for 10 years now and find that very few native North Carolinians care little for public education. What's a few more days off for one of the lowest paid and respected public education systems in the United States. Besides, Gov. Pat is too busy trying to figure out how to make tax payers pick up the bill for Duke Power's mistakes.

Wiley Coyote said...


You've only been here 10 years.

We've been trying to get back the taxes Democrats stole from us and squandered under their 100 years of control of this state.

...and this is the same education system Governor Bev Perdue raided from the Education Lottery - twice and was first to cut teacher salaries...

Shamash said...

We spend plenty of money on education in this country.

That is not the problem.

It's where the money goes that's the problem. It goes to bloated bureaucracies, not the classroom or teachers.

Schools have become an extension of DSS. Not a good thing.

And now the new "reformers" are saying that the real problems are "poverty" and "social inequity".

Well, good luck solving THAT when you can't even teach our kids the basics.

Much safer to tilt at windmills than do what you're supposed to do.

Especially when you see places like Vietnam outscore us in international tests.

And they are poor. We blew the holy heck out of their country about the same time our "Great Society" and "War on Poverty" began.

So why are they now our betters?

Yeah, I know how evil "tests" are in our society, but STILL, those "poor" Vietnamese kids can pass them.

Ours can't.

Makes me think the problem lies with the students and parents (family) and not the teachers and schools.

Because the Vietnamese have NOT suddenly gotten rich overnight.

But as long as we keep making excuses this will continue.

Wiley Coyote said...


It's the same thing, packaged differently. It's still called "diversity" any way you slice it, dice it, sell it or try to ram it down our throats...

Busing was rammed down our throats and this country is still paying for it.

Instead of fixing the problems with education inequities such as facilities, programs, money spent per pupil, etc., forcing people to go to schools outside of their neighborhoods just to mix races, made matters worse.

The one thing government could not do was force people to live in a certain area or not send their kids to private school alternatives and that undermined their forced busing agenda.

Until we as a society start getting tough on parents and what is demanded of them and their kids, nothing will change.

Shamash said...

Many people in this country are too comfortable squandering opportunities that people in most of the world only WISH they had.

We put the water out.

We lead the horses to it.

But we can't make them drink.

So let's stop wasting time and money trying. It's the horse's turn to do something.

Instead, we start pouring the horses some Perrier to see if they'll take to that.

People just don't value things that are given to them.

You've seen what happens to most public housing after a few years, haven't you?

I can remember being really envious of some nice apartments I saw going up near where I lived as a kid.

I rode my bike past them to go to baseball practice near the local HS.

Within 3 years, (by the time I went from sixth grade to that HS as a freshman), they were trashed.

It wasn't the quality of construction, or the location.

It was the people living there who did it.

Same thing goes for schools.

It's the people inside that matter.