NC Legislature Dropped That Education Plan Mandate That Had Teachers Furious

Members of the NC General Assembly stand in this April file photo. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By Billy Ball

April 30, 2020

Lawmakers postponed one controversial deadline and loosened another mandate in a massive coronavirus relief bill.

Following a bristling response from North Carolina educators, state Senate lawmakers loosened a polarizing mandate in a coronavirus relief bill ordering school districts deliver remote instruction plans by the end of June. 

Both Republican and Democratic senators agreed to the revised mandate, which extends that deadline until July 20 and softens language indicating districts show learning is “commensurate” with growth that would have taken place if North Carolina’s 1.5 million students were still in a classroom. 

“It’s hard to articulate how completely out of touch that expectation is,” teacher Justin Parmenter wrote in an op-ed Wednesday at Cardinal & Pine. On social media, educators were livid about the legislative mandate this week.  

The new language approved in a committee substitute late Wednesday says the public education plan should “support learning growth that continues toward mastery of the standard course of study.”

Mark Jewell, president of the NC Association of Educators (NCAE), the state’s largest teacher advocacy group, called the original plan “extremely troubling” during an interview Thursday with Cardinal & Pine

“Remote learning is simply not as effective as in-person instruction,” Jewell said. “And to hold educators to the same standard was very concerning.” 

Jewell said the NCAE worked with state Sen. Don Davis, a Democrat representing Greene and Pitt counties, to amend the remote plan. 

State educators have been debating how best to serve students out of the classroom, with many pointing out the Internet infrastructure issues blocking some from receiving remote instruction.

House and Senate legislators are hammering out a billion-dollar spending plan for federal COVID-19 relief, with both chambers approving their plans this week. House and Senate lawmakers are expected to negotiate the differences in their respective plans in the coming days. 

Gov. Roy Cooper, in announcing that public schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year, submitted his own plan last week for $1.4 billion in coronavirus relief. 


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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