Legislation giving North Carolina families the choice to attend in-person summer learning programs in public schools cleared multiple state House committees on Tuesday with support from local superintendents who spoke in favor of the bill.
House Bill 82
Summer Learning Choice for NC Families would provide six weeks of classroom instruction, five days a week, for families who choose to participate this summer. The programs are targeted to students falling behind during remote learning but are available to all North Carolina families.
The bill is designed to encourage student participation by offering core academic courses mixed with enrichment and physical activities. It provides time flexibility to local school districts by prescribing hours requirements instead of days, allowing districts to tailor the program to their specific needs.
Disability Rights NC joined local superintendents in support of the legislation in public comments to the House Education Committee.
"This bill will positively impact students with disabilities who are at risk of retention, particularly middle school and high school students who have been subject to 100% remote instruction for nearly a year,"
attorney Meisha Evans with Disability Rights NC told the House Education K-12 Committee.
"There are students with disabilities who do not have access to remote instruction due to the nature and severity of their disability. This bill will give students with disabilities a chance to make up some of the critical in-person instruction that they lost."
Harnett County Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Fleming spoke in favor of the legislation on Tuesday.
"There's no doubt that losing close to a full year of full-time, face-to-face instruction, we are starting to see a lot of loss of learning in our student population,"
Dr. Fleming said.
"Being physically present in a classroom with a quality teacher is best for our students. This bill will help us in regaining some, but certainly not all, of this time back. It is an opportunity for our students at the most significant risk of falling behind to catch up and prepare for the next grade level or course."
Mt. Airy City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison said her district had over 400 students attend a summer program in 2020, and the success of those classes informed her support for the bill.
"Each district is different, in their local context, need for programs, access to resources, and support for students,"
Dr. Morrison said.
"I believe that House Bill 82, at its heart, supports what we fundamentally believe, which is that summer programs are a good start to a productive academic school year. Our goal is to work with the state legislature to provide a strong network of support for every student in our state. We appreciate your willingness to give local flexibility when possible, such as allowing districts to decide how many hours are needed each week...and opening the possibility for retirees to come to work."
Speaker Moore addressed the House Education K-12 Committee on Tuesday.
"This bill simply provides for a very robust summer learning program to allow these children to get caught up from missed time away from in-person classes,"
Speaker Moore said.
"We hear support for this from parents, teachers, administrators, and really from everyone involved, so I hope this bill will get good bipartisan support. It stands for the proposition that we know these children have really had a difficult time with COVID-19, not having that classroom experience, and giving them a very robust summer program."
H.B. 82 was approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and the House Committee on Pensions and Retirement on Tuesday. It will also be heard in the House Rules Committee and is expected to be voted on by the full state House of Representatives Wednesday.
- Contact: Joseph Kyzer