Under the Dome

Education think-tank tackling big questions

The Public School Forum of North Carolina has put out the call for volunteers to join a study group focused on finding what it will take to provide every child in the state an opportunity at a sound basic education.

Within that broad question the group will concentrate on three topics: racial equity, school funding, and the impacts of traumatic childhood experiences on learning.

“We have the statewide breadth to really bring together disparate groups over what can be volatile issues,” said Forum President and CEO Keith Poston.

This is the 16th study group the Raleigh-based education think-tank has convened in its 29-year history. Poston said the group will begin meeting within the next 30 days, with the aim of having recommendations ready in time for the legislative session next spring.

The Forum's new N.C. Center for Educational Opportunity will use the study group recommendations as a basis for its projects, Poston said.

The study group is convening at a time when the state's largest school districts, Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, are facing questions about school diversity. The CMS school board wants to consider school assignments to reduce high poverty levels in some schools. The number of high-poverty schools in Wake has more than doubled in the last seven years, as fewer students are being bused to achieve economic diversity.

Last week's release of standardized test scores and school grades showed again the correlation between poverty and school performance.