Key Education Policy Items Approved by NC House
Updated: Jun 30, 2021
From the start of the 2021 legislative session, the Republican-led North Carolina House made it a priority to get children back in school as quickly and safely as possible while also taking steps to help them recover from lost time in the classroom. This includes a new K-12 summer school option for all students who have fallen behind due to remote learning. The House has also advanced bills to expand school choice, reduce over-testing and increase academic transparency.
Here is a full breakdown of the bills approved so far this session:
New Summer School Recovery Option (House Bill 82)
House Bill 82, which was singed into law, creates a new K-12 summer school option for students who have fallen behind due to remote learning. Specifically, it provides a six week in-person and fully funded summer school program available to every family if they so choose.
Reopen Schools for In-Person Instruction (Senate Bill 220)
Senate Bill 220, which was signed into law, requires local school administrative units to offer Plan A in-person instruction to all students in grades kindergarten-5 and students with disabilities in grades 6-12, Plan B in-person instruction for grades 6-12, and authorize offering Plan A in-person instruction to grades 6-12 when partnering with the ABC Science Collaborative.
Prohibit "Critical Race Theory" and Other Discriminatory Concepts (House Bill 324)
House Bill 324 prevents students or teachers from being taught that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex, or that any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.
School Conduct (House Bill 247)
House Bill 247 would make various changes to the requirements for school discipline policies, including requiring school officials to inform parents or guardians at the beginning of each school year about the full range of responses to disciplinary violations and make clear that state law does not regulate a public school unit board's discretion to devise, impose, or enforce personal appearance codes.
Expand School Choice for Low-Income Families (House Bill 32)
House Bill 32 expands eligibility for the Opportunity Scholarship program, pegs the scholarship award to a percentage of state per-pupil support, and combines existing special-needs programs into one. This will help increase educational opportunities for low-income families and ensure our most vulnerable students have additional choices and options to meet their education needs.
End the Governor’s Statewide School Mask Mandate (Senate Bill 173)
Senate Bill 173 gives local school boards the authority to determine masking policies for students in their district. The bill also requires school boards to define their masking policies by an August 1 deadline. If no policy has been adopted by the deadline, students will not be required to mask. If a masking policy has been adopted by that deadline, the policy must be reconsidered for a vote each month.
Enhance Reading Plans and Literacy Intervention Tools (Senate Bill 387)
Senate Bill 387, which was signed into law, enhances in-classroom instruction, reading camps, other reading interventions, data collection, and brings together the higher education and pre-K communities to help ensure consistency and quality in literacy instruction.
Expand Retired Educator Program (House Bill 428)
House Bill 428 extends the sunset on the program to allow retired educators to return to work in high-need schools to 2024 and expands the program to include retired instructional support personnel.
Support Charter Schools (House Bill 729)
House Bill 729 makes various changes to charter school laws, including authorizing counties to lease property to charter schools, allow counties to provide funds to charter schools by direct appropriation and ensure that all state funds for public school students attending charter schools are provided in amounts on a comparable to funds given to other public school students attending other public school units.
School Calendar Flexibility (House Bill 376)
House Bill 376 allows local school administrative units to open no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19 each year. Currently, the opening date for students in a school calendar must be no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26, and the closing date for students must be no later than the Friday closest to June 11.
Reduce Over-Testing in High Schools (House Bill 486)
House Bill 486 requires a nationally recognized assessment of high school achievement and college readiness to replace the high school end-of-course tests (EOCs). Additionally, it would eliminate the required administration of ACT WorkKeys for career and technical education students.
Expand Successful Charter Schools (House Bill 616)
House Bill 616 changes the qualifications to allow for the fast-track replication of high-quality charter schools, particularly in underserved areas.
Increase Academic Transparency (House Bill 755)
House Bill 755 requires public school units to display information about instructional materials used in the classroom each year.
Enhance School Safety (House Bill 657)
House Bill 657 requires that all public-school units have threat assessment teams to assess and intervene when threatening behavior may pose a risk to the safety of school staff or students. These teams would be established consistent with the policies developed by the Center for Safer Schools in consultation with the Task Force for Safer Schools, Disability Rights North Carolina, the State Bureau of Investigation, and relevant state government agencies.
Revise Personal Leave Costs for Teachers (House Bill 362)
House Bill 362 ends the $50 fee teachers must pay for a substitute to cover their classes.
Delay Social Studies Standards & Provide Educational Grants to Low-Income Families (Senate Bill 654)
Senate Bill 654 utilizes $10 million in federal pandemic relief aid to provide grants to low- to middle-income households for educational expenses. The grants would be worth $1,000 for each eligible child in school. It also delays the implementation of the social studies standards the State Board of Education passed in February.
Allow More College Instructors to Also Teach in Grades K-12 (Senate Bill 582)
Senate Bill 582 allows more instructors in higher education to also teach courses in grades K-12.