JLF Research Archive

Entries by Dr. Terry Stoops

Showing items 1 to 25 of 98

(2.19.14) Common Core State Standards: The way forward

The NC General Assembly should create two permanent commissions charged with raising the quality and rigor of state standards, curricula, and assessments. Each commission should employ a large and diverse group of stakeholders and should modify or replace the Common Core State Standards, specify content that aligns with the standards, recommend a testing program, and provide ongoing review.


(9.17.13) 60 Questions About Common Core: Answers for North Carolinians

This updated primer serves to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Common Core State Standards and tests. North Carolina taxpayers should use it as a first step in assessing the massive changes underway in our public schools.


(5.16.13) Goodbye, Grammar: N.C.’s Common Core-based English tests disregard grammar, spelling, mechanics, and usage

Contrary to the Common Core State Standards themselves, Common Core-based tests developed by the NC DPI include relatively few English language questions and no traditional grammar, spelling, mechanics, or usage questions. Legislators and the members of the State Board of Education should ensure that the state adopts a testing program that places a greater emphasis on these areas.


(4.10.13) 35 Questions About Common Core: Answers for North Carolinians

The Common Core State Standards Initiative has attracted considerable attention from the state and national media, and North Carolinians have begun to consider how these changes will affect their public schools. The purpose of this primer is to introduce North Carolinians to the Common Core State Standards by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about common standards and tests.


(3.11.13) School Vouchers: From Friedman to the Finish Line

There is consensus in the education research community that school choice raises student achievement for the average participating student. Vouchers tend to be more transparent and easier for parents to understand than other types of choice options, but require additional safeguards and protections for participating children, families, and schools.


(7.10.12) Educational Market Share: Despite the growth of school choice, public schools dominate

Private, charter, and home schools continue to be popular in many states, including North Carolina. This popularity, however, has not produced a significant enrollment shift from district schools to schools of choice – private, charter, or home schools. North Carolina and nine other states had a net increase in the percentage of students attending a school of choice between 2001 and 2010, but statewide market share increases were trivial. School choice reformers must continue their praiseworthy efforts to expand educational options for families. They must also recognize that the traditional public school system will remain the primary provider of schooling for most families.


(1.31.12) North Carolina vs. the World: Comparisons of educational inputs and outcomes

This study employs multiple studies and data sources to fill the gaps left by the state’s unacceptable omission of international inputs and outcomes. Overall, the evidence suggests that, despite ample resources, public school students in North Carolina fail to meet or exceed the performance of many of our economic competitors throughout the world. Simply put, the state has failed to "produce globally competitive students," and that failure is a cause for serious concern.


(11.01.11) A Quarter-Million More for Montgomery? Secretive county seeks a third tax increase in three years

Montgomery County commissioners have raised the property tax by nine cents over the last three years, from 58 cents to 67 cents per $100 valuation — a 15.5 percent increase. Now the commissioners want voters to approve a quarter-cent sales-tax increase worth an estimated $250,000.


(10.19.11) Durham’s Tale of Two Tax Increases: County seeks $26.5 million’s worth of sales-tax hikes for schools and transit

Durham County commissioners are asking voters to approve two sales-tax increases on November 8. The requested increases would amount to $26.5 million per year in new tax revenues. This request comes amid news that state unemployment has been above 9 percent since January 2009 and is currently 10.4 percent.


(10.12.11) Orange Crush Revisited: County commissioners ask voters a third time for a tax increase

Orange County commissioners are asking voters for a $2.5 million sales-tax increase at a time of high unemployment. Twice before Orange County voters rejected tax increases. Just last November, rural county voters rejected a sales-tax increase by 2 to 1. The ballot offers nothing else for rural voters this time around, while urban voters also must pick candidates for city offices. Commissioners' hopes for a tax increase may hinge on low rural turnout.


(9.20.11) High School Graduation in NC: Quantity over quality?

Between 2006 and 2009, North Carolina’s graduation rate increased by 2.3 percent. At the same time, the community college remediation rate increased by 7 percent. Significant percentages of students enrolled in remedial courses suggest that the standards for high school graduation remain alarmingly low.


(7.06.11) Virtually Irrelevant: How certification rules impede the growth of virtual schools

Teacher-certification requirements are among the most onerous rules enforced by state education agencies and have the potential seriously to limit the scope, quality, and accessibility of virtual schooling for years to come.


(5.10.11) Taxers’ Choice in Cabarrus: If the sales-tax increase fails, county threatens to hike property taxes

Commissioners of debt-ridden Cabarrus County want taxpayers to bail them out by approving a quarter-cent sales tax increase on May 17. If the voters do not approve the tax increase, commissioners threaten to hit them with a 2.2-cent property tax increase.


(2.14.11) Elective Surgery: Budget deficits require elected officials to reassess course offerings

North Carolina needs a thorough review of the number and types of courses offered in its public schools, especially during tight budget times. There is no evidence that school districts or the state has conducted an audit of the costs and outcomes or elective courses. A statewide curriculum audit would be a sound way to reduce costs and refocus our curriculum on the core skills that many of our public school students so desperately need.


(10.18.10) A Million Wasn’t Enough? Montgomery County commissioners want even more tax money

Montgomery county commissioners have raised the property tax by nine cents over the last two years, from 58 cents to 67 cents per $100 valuation — a 15.5 percent increase. Now the commissioners want $225,000 tax increase (an amount about the same as another one-cent increase in the property tax). If voters approve this tax increase, the total tax increase over the last three years would be $2.1 million.


(10.14.10) Speculators’ Tax in Alleghany? County commissioners seek tax grab based on guesses

Alleghany County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $160,000 tax increase at a time of high unemployment. That amount would be equal to a property tax increase of 0.9 cents per hundred dollars of value. County operating budget appropriations for fiscal year 2011 are $570,274 higher than in fiscal year 2009 – an amount 3.5 times as much as what the tax would generate.


(10.14.10) Tax First, Duck Questions Later: Highly secretive Clay County wants voters to approve a tax increase

Clay County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $200,000 tax increase at a time of high unemployment. That amount would be equal to a property tax increase of 1.4 cents per hundred dollars of value.


(10.13.10) A Taxing Legacy in Cherokee: County voters face vote on higher taxes proposed by rejected commissioners

Outgoing Cherokee County commissioners are asking voters to approve a $600,000 tax increase, an amount equivalent to a property tax increase of 1.5 cents per hundred dollars of value. County voters already rejected all three county commissioners who proposed the tax hike, but those lame-duck commissioners have since committed nearly $10 million to expand and renovate the courthouse.


(10.13.10) Get the Math Right: Columbus County leaders are wrong about proposed tax hike’s size, need

Columbus County commissioners are overselling the value of a proposed tax increase to voters by at least $300,000. County commissioners have repeatedly said the new quarter-cent sales tax increase would raise $1.0 million, but recent county estimates suggest the tax would bring in about $700,000. That would be equivalent to a 2.2-cent property tax rate increase.


(10.12.10) Strike Four? Despite three strikes on tax hikes, Harnett County officials try again

Harnett County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $1.2 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. This amount is equal to a property tax increase of 1.8 cents per hundred dollars of value. This is the third time county officials have sought a higher sales tax and the fourth vote on higher taxes since 2007. Voters soundly rejected each of the earlier attempts.


(10.12.10) A Question of Trust: Alamance County commissioners don’t trust voters; can voters trust them?

Alamance County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $2.4 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. This amount is equal to a property tax increase of 1.9 cents per hundred dollars of value. The three commissioners who supported the tax hike rejected a public hearing on the referendum.


(10.11.10) Tax Hike in Person Would Be Bad for Small Business: Three of Five Commissioners Agree

Person County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $675,000 tax increase at a time of high unemployment. This amount is equal to a property tax increase of 1.8 cents per hundred dollars of value. The commissioners voted 3-to-2 to put the tax increase to a vote of the people, but three commissioners expressed concerns that this tax increase would harm Person County small businesses during this weak economy.


(10.07.10) An Unnecessary Tax Hike: Bladen commissioners go back on their ‘No Tax Increase’ promise

Bladen county commissioners are asking voters to approve a $375,000 tax increase. Commissioners are asking for a tax increase while ignoring the county manager’s proposed fiscal year 2011 budget that fulfills the commissioners’ “No Tax Increase” pledge. Bladen County schools have adequate funding from federal, state, and lottery sources; in fact, federal funds alone bring in three times the amount received from the tax increase.


(10.06.10) Third Time’s Not the Charm: Guilford County still needs better spending, not higher taxes

Guilford county commissioners are asking for an $11.6 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. In 2008, they twice asked voters to pass a tax increase, but by large majorities, the voters turned them down. To illustrate the commissioner’s inability to manage spending and the debt, the county will exceed its debt guideline every year from 2012 to 2016.


(10.05.10) Orange Crush: Tax hike would crush taxpayers and county economy

Orange County commissioners are asking voters for a $2.3 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. Since the special county taxing authority was established by the legislature in 2007, voters have turned down 68 of 85 requests for tax increases, sending the message that county commissioners must be more responsible stewards of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.


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