- From the Editorial Board
Recently, The New York Times ran a series of editorials that included multiple views on a variety of educational issues with implications for the nation in general and the Big Apple in particular. Various writers argued in favor of an accountability policy that favors charters, teacher evaluations, and the closure of failing schools (Canada, 2013), a coordination of services to support families, communities, and schools (Noguera, 2013), an implementation of the Common Core State Standards without a focus on value-added teacher evaluations (Stern, 2013), and a comprehensive school system that focuses on the educational and personal needs of students and abandons a reliance on a testing culture (Ravitch, 2013). While the New York City mayoral race has brought media attention to its issues of educational philosophy and policy, North Carolina, the home of The High School Journal, has also drawn coverage, generated by legislative decisions affecting its teachers, students, and communities.
In addition to ending unemployment benefits and imposing voter identification requirements, North Carolina legislators significantly cut back on spending for public schools. The Editorial Board (2013) of The New York Times lamented these actions, accusing the Republican-controlled state government of "tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot" (para. 2). "Though North Carolina has been growing rapidly," the Editorial Board continued, "it is spending less on schools now than it did in 2007, ranking 46th in the nation in per-capita education dollars. Teacher pay is falling, 10,000 prekindergarten slots are scheduled to be removed, and even services to disabled children are being chopped" (para. 5). The legislature also eliminated extra pay for teachers with graduate degrees, and tenure is being phased out (Bonner, 2013; Helms, 2013; Leslie, 2013). Like the Editorial Board of The New York Times, the Editorial Board of The High School Journal is concerned about the consequences of these actions.
What has happened in North Carolina is not unique. Other states, such as Idaho and South Dakota, have also abandoned tenure (Lu, 2013). Regarding funding for public schools, elementary and high schools in 26 states received less state funding in the 2012-13 school year than they did the previous year, and in 35 states school funding remained less than 2008 levels (Oliff, Mai, & Leachman, 2012). Teacher retention is also making headlines. Across the nation, an increasing number of teachers are making short-term commitments to the classroom, leaving after two or three years to pursue other careers (Rich, 2013). Whereas some may argue that brief stints in public education are admirable forms of community service, we have known for decades that high-need schools have higher teacher attrition rates and often hire [End Page 1] novice teachers, resulting in students "... who most need expert teaching ... [being] continually subjected to instruction by persons who are just learning, or perhaps not learning, how to teach" (Darling-Hammond, 1990, p. 289). It is not surprising, then, that researchers have found that teacher turnover harms student achievement (Ronfeldt, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2013) and disrupts school culture and community.
At The High School Journal we seek research and scholarship that will reveal how these particular legislative decisions and trends are affecting the students, faculty, and curricula of our nation's high schools.