Restore the NC Teaching Fellows Program

North Carolina was once a noted leader in public education, and we maintained that accomplishment in part by creating one of the boldest, most effective, and most successful state-sponsored teacher preparation scholarships to ever exist: The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program.

Founded in 1986 in response to a critical teacher shortage, the NC Teaching Fellows program sent hundreds of highly qualified students to NC universities every year, enriching their college preparations with supplemental programming every summer, and asking only that graduates teach in North Carolina public schools for four years upon graduation. The program awarded annual scholarships of $6,500 to 500 recipients.

The numbers were commendable: tens of thousands of students applied; more than 8,500 graduated and went to work in public schools. They filled classrooms in every one of our state's 100 counties. Four out of five accomplished their initial four year teaching obligation; more than 64 percent remained in the classroom for more than six years after their contract was fulfilled. (By contrast only 10 percent of Teach for America graduates remain in the classroom beyond five years.)

Not only did the program plant highly recruited teachers in rural counties, its graduates were increasingly diverse. 50 percent of Teaching Fellows were male, and half of scholarship recipients were minorities.


Making it 'Round the Bases

There's nothing more American than when your kid goes out for baseball. How a run-down field and a pink ball glove added up to something huge.

A few weeks ago when I was on a work trip, Kel mentioned that the local rec center was signing up kids for tee ball teams, and she wondered what I thought if Julia signed up. I think I was in Boston, maybe between appointments. I said go for it.

It was a casual sort of thing--I mean, this isn't something you spend a lot of time mulling over per se--and before it even struck me that Julia was about to be on a team that played ball on a diamond, I was looking over the information, processing in my head that my preemie baby girl was about to go learn America's greatest game.

Of course, I had to teach her a few things first.


Should NC Public Ed Play Dead?

For small-government conservatives, our legislators are awfully interested in big-government outreach.

It's legislative season in Raleigh, which means there's no shortage of great fodder for folks like me, who write about public education in North Carolina. It's a bit Christmas morning, if Christmas morning were a time when you woke up to discover someone was trying to burn down your house.

Two bills came across my radar yesterday as I was comparing how our legislature needed three pages of resolution text to honor a basketball coach while only needing 26 lines to mandate change to 14,000 faculty members in the UNC system.

That doesn't even approach what happened yesterday, when North Carolina became a dangerous place for opossums. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Local school boards could become even more political. 

House Bill 324, which passed committee and is heading to the floor for a full House vote soon, is written to force local school board candidates to declare a party membership.