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State Board of Ed talks about "flat pathetic" teacher pay

State Board of Education member John Tate wants the board to back a resolution to bring teacher pay in the state to the national average.

Tate sprung his proposal on the board this week, calling teacher pay "flat pathetic." Teachers and state employees received one 1.2 percent raise in the last five years.

After years of concerted efforts to raise teacher to the national average, North Carolina was ranked 25th in 2008 by the National Education Association. The state has slipped since then, and is close to the bottom of national rankings.

"I feel like we have to send a message to our teachers as soon as possible," Tate said.

Quick to leave DPI

Angela Quick is leaving her job as deputy chief academic officer at the state Department of Public Instruction to become a vice president at N.C. New Schools.

Quick has been with DPI since 2008 and as spent untold hours talking about school accountability, testing and curriculum development at State Board of Education meetings.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said Quick "has been extraordinary in her service" and is "respected among her colleagues throughout North Carolina."

Quick attended her last board meeting Thursday, leaving a void in future agendas for explanations of Bloom's Taxonomy, Moodle, and computer adaptive testing.

Morning Memo: Two more headlines raise heat on McCrory administration

MORE HUGE SALARIES AT DHHS -- Secretary hired staffer from husband’s firm; McCrory’s office says he does a “helluva” good job: An adviser to state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has been paid more than $228,000 by the state for eight months of work.

The state Department of Health and Human Services signed a personal services contract with Joe Hauck to serve as “senior adviser” at the agency. The initial contract was extended at least four times between March 1 and Aug. 1, and was modified at least once to pay him more “due to increased hours of work per day,” according to a state Department of Health and Human Services contracts website. According to DHHS, Hauck started under contract in January to work in Wos’ office. The contract is now set to expire Nov. 30, and it is capped at $310,000.

TIMING OF SHANAHAN’S DEPARTURE RAISES MORE QUESTIONS: Kieran Shanahan’s unexpected resignation as head of the state’s public safety agency in July came as he appeared to be making long-term plans to remain in the job. Three days before he resigned, efforts were underway to complete his clearance for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security so that he could be designated as the state official eligible to receive sensitive information in North Carolina about terrorist and other threats.

Also, the Office of State Budget and Management planned to have a “strategic” budget meeting with Shanahan on the day before he departed, which Shanahan indicated he would attend.

***Read more details on the latest two stories to sidetrack the McCrory administration below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: The recasting of Gov. McCrory? Unraveling his shifts

PAT McCRORY LINKS MEDICAID REFORMS TO TEACHER PAY HIKES -- Governor pledges big announcement in coming months: Speaking at the Cary Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet Wednesday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory promised "controversial" proposals to change the state's Medicaid system. Overruns in Medicaid costs are a huge burden on the state and have drained funding for education, he said.

Citing issues with federal regulations, "a lack of waivers from the feds, and frankly, some of the politics within Raleigh here," McCrory said he wanted to change the state's implementation of the federal health program for people with low income.

"I'm going to have to bring up some fairly controversial proposals to change Medicaid, or we're going to continue to have some very, very serious issues here in North Carolina," McCrory told the crowd. "That's coming in the next three, four months. I'll probably introduce them while the legislature's out of town, between now and May," he said, drawing laughs. Changes to Medicaid, he said are " the way we're going to get raises to the teachers."

***McCrory appears to be charting a new course, but the administration is backtracking on a different education announcement. Read it all below in today's Dome Morning Memo***

Morning Memo: What Pat McCrory and Bev Perdue have in common

SENATE OVERRIDE VOTE EXPECTED: The state House on Tuesday took little more than half an hour to override the governor’s vetoes of two bills, on immigration and drug-testing welfare recipients. The resurrected legislation now passes to the Senate, which will vote Wednesday morning and is expected to easily override. Gov. Pat McCrory lobbied House members to sustain the vetoes to little success -- but he didn't try a similiar effort with lawmakers in the Senate, a chamber that he has been at odds with for most of the legislative session.

HOW PAT McCRORY AND BEV PERDUE ARE ALIKE: From Catawba College political expert Michael Bitzer: "What appears to be constant between the two governors is the distaste by independent voters. While (former Gov. Bev) Perdue faired worse earlier than (Gov. Pat) McCrory has, they both have reached a similar point of nearly 50 percent disapproval among independent voters. While the Perdue-McCrory gap is pretty noticeable among independents expressing their disapproval, the convergence in August, after the dust of the legislative sessions had settled, is pretty striking." See his analysis of polling results and the one chart that tells the McCrory story.

***Read more on the override votes in the House and where the N.C. delegation stands on Syria below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Joking about the school naming fight in Wake County

The controversy over the Wake County school board renaming West Apex High School as Apex Friendship High School made its way into today’s State Board of Education meeting.

It came up because an applicant seeking permission to open in 2014 wants to be called West Charlotte Charter High School. Some state board members were concerned that it might be confusing to parents because there’s an existing school called West Charlotte High School.

As board members talked about requiring the charter applicant to get a name change, State Board Chairman Bill Cobey noted how he had been reading in newspapers about a fight over school names. While he didn’t bring up Wake by name, there was no doubt about what he was discussing.

“Let’s not go to naming schools, please,” Cobey said to laughs from the crowd.

Bill loosens reins on charters

A state Senate committee approved a charter school bill that would free them from going to the State Board of Education for permission to add grades, and would allow the charters to give enrollment preference to siblings of school alumni.

Most parents get their children into charters by entering them in lotteries, but the law allows schools to give preferences in admissions to enrolled students' brothers and sisters and the children of teachers and principals. The most successful charters have many more students entering their lotteries than they have available seats.

Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat, said extending the sibling preference wouldn't be fair. "If someone wants to apply, there should be an equal shot," he said.

The amendment was approved on a close voice vote.

N.C. Public Charter Schools Association opposes separate charter board

The N.C. Public Charter Schools Association board of advisors is adding its voice to the chorus opposing creation of a governing board for charter schools separate from the State Board of Education.

State Board Chairman Bill Cobey, one of Gov. Pat McCrory's appointees, says he doesn't want a separate board and questioned its constitutionality. Senate Bill 337 passed the Senate largely along party lines, with Democrats opposed, and now sits in the House.

The bill would set up a charter school board to review and accept charter applications and make sure the schools comply with standards. The State Board of Education could overrule charter board decisions by a three-fourths vote.

The State Board has a charter advisory board that reviews applications and makes recommendations, but the State Board has the last word.

The association appears to be changing its position on the special board. The email Monday announcing the advisors' vote said "The Association had said it initially supported…."

And on April 3, the association sent out a press release thanking the bill sponsors, praising the legislation, and detailing more changes the association wanted.

But association executive director Eddie Goodall said the association never supported a separate charter board. "I don't think I was saying that," Goodall said. "It might have looked like that."

Senate passes bill creating charter school board

The state Senate passed a bill creating a separate regulatory board for charter schools by a vote of 32-17.

The charter school board would be responsible for handing out new charters and shutting down inadequate schools, diluting the State Board of Education's powers. State Board Chairman Bill Cobey opposes the bill and questions its constitutionality.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, an Archdale Republican and the bill's sponsor, said charters give parents choice. "When you have a choice, the free market works," he said.

Democrats said Republicans were over reaching.

"Keep this up and you're going to destroy the very thing you're trying to promote," said Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Bill Cobey to lead state education board

Former congressman Bill Cobey was elected chairman of the State Board of Education on Wednesday.

Cobey replaces Bill Harrison, a former school district superintendent who left the board earlier this year after his term expired.

R.L. "Buddy" Collins of Forsyth County was elected vice president. Equality NC, a gay advocacy group, tried to get Gov. Pat McCrory to withdraw Collins' appointment.

Cobey is a former chairman of the state Republican Party. He was sworn in as a board of education member along with five other McCrory appointees.

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