News in Brief
N.C. Officials Move to Help District
State Judge Urges Action, Calling its Results 'Academic Genocide'
Tougher oversight and training are needed at an embattled school district in northeastern North Carolina that a judge accused of committing “academic genocide,” education officials said last week.
Gov. Beverly Perdue announced a turnaround program to help Halifax County schools, where scores on statewide academic tests are significantly lower than the state average. Only a third of the district’s high school students, for example, are proficient on end-of-course tests, compared with 68 percent statewide.
The intervention plan for the district, which serves 4,400 students in 14 schools, was to be presented to the judge this week.
“The state is going to take some significant steps to improve the education the kids are getting. It’s going to focus on principal-leadership development, and put more focus on outcomes and accountability,” said David Kochman, a spokesman for Gov. Perdue, a Democrat.
The plan mandates three weeks of professional-development training for principals and central-office personnel and two weeks for teachers. The district also must hire 12 full-time education experts to help teachers improve classroom instruction. The state department of public instruction will provide “transformation coaches” for schools and the district.
Superintendent Geraldine Middleton couldn’t be reached for comment, but the governor’s office said she was receptive to the state’s help.
State and district officials were scheduled to present the plan to Superior Court Judge Howard Manning on April 29. The judge said in a court order in March that the district was committing “academic genocide,” and he made it clear he believed the state needed to take over district management.
Judge Manning based his statements, in part, on the system’s scores on end-of-grade reading tests. More than 71 percent of elementary students are not proficient in reading, and more than 74 percent of middle school students are not proficient, he wrote.
Vol. 28, Issue 30, Page 4