2011 Report on Project Work - Education and Law
- Secured a new school discipline law. This law put an end to the “zero tolerance” policies that have robbed many minority students of the opportunity to get an education. No longer will students be forced to leave school for a long-term suspension without a hearing, and there will be no more one-size-fits-all punishments for specific offenses, except when federal firearms law is involved. We drafted and shepherded this legislation through the NC General Assembly with the help of other education advocates and representatives of North Carolina’s school boards, school administrators and teachers’ union.
- Defeated efforts to privatize public education. We helped stop plans to take tens of millions of dollars away from the state’s traditional public schools and give that money to largely unregulated charter schools, and we ensured that a bill to create a massive school voucher program for private schools never got off the ground.
- Protected education funds designated for low-income and disadvantaged students. Despite the state’s budget woes, we helped to prevent deep cuts to several funds that provide supplemental money to schools for the education of students who are low-income, have special needs, or are at risk of academic failure.
- Stopped the repeal of the Personal Education Plan statute. Personal Education Plans are a vital resource for students who are at risk of failure in school. The legislature eliminated these plans in the state budget, but we ensured that the right to a plan was restored through the technical corrections process.
- Educated the public about federal, state, and local education policy developments. Through the use of blogs, Twitter, news releases, and opinion pieces in newspapers, we shed light on key education policy developments, such as the new federal guidelines on the use of race in student assignment, the limitations on use of federal free-and-reduced-lunch data, the impact of proposed changes to the state’s charter-school law, the difficulties of charter-school transportation, and key local issues such as the increased cost of transportation under Wake County’s proposed student assignment plan.
- Protecting North Carolina’s pre-kindergarten programs. We participated in litigation to stop dramatic cuts to the state’s nationally recognized education program for at-risk four-year olds. The judge ruled in favor of North Carolina’s children, and the governor issued an executive order to ensure the ruling would be followed, but the effort to secure funding so every eligible child can participate continues.
- Preventing the resegregation of Wake County schools. We worked with allies to file and support the investigation of a complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice challenging Wake County's proposed abandonment of its diversity policy and the district's disproportional use of suspensions for black students. We also co-authored a report detailing the flaws in the district’s new “controlled choice” school assignment plan.
- Protecting the right of all students to attend public school. We provided direct assistance to families that had difficulty registering their students for school, and we created a guide designed to empower parents by walking them through the requirements for enrolling students.
- Educating the public about the diversion of lottery money away from schools. We published a report exposing how state legislators are using lottery money to replace, rather than supplement, state funding for schools.
- Securing a quality education for English Language Learners. We authored a report and made presentations to parents and educators on the need for improved services for students whose first language is not English.
- Empowering parents to fight for their children’s education rights. We conducted numerous trainings for parents and community leaders on how to become education advocates.
- Advocated for higher teacher pay. In response to attacks on teachers that have become far too common, we authored blog posts and published opinion pieces chronicling the need for increased teacher pay that reflects the importance of the work teachers do.
Annual Reports on Education & Law