Liz Schlemmer

Education Reporter

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. She has previously served as the Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting at WUNC and as the education reporter at Louisville Public Media. She holds an M.A. from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC Chapel Hill and a B.A. in history and anthropology from Indiana University. Liz is originally from rural Indiana, where she grew up with a large extended family of educators.
 

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey (center-right) listens while State Superintendent Mark Johnson gives his monthly address to the board.
Jess Clark / WUNC

The chairman of the State Board of Education is leaving his post. Bill Cobey submitted his resignation to the Department of Public Instruction this afternoon.

Students in the Medical Education Development (MED) Program (left to right) Jazmine Walker, Miguel Vasquez, Gloribel Vanegas, and Joshua Walker prepare to dissect a cadaver at UNC Chapel Hill on July 5, 2018.
Madeline Gray / For WUNC

Jazmine Walker unzips a blue body bag. A gaggle of students in scrubs and surgical masks surround her. Teams of five crowd around cadavers around the room, about to begin their first dissection of a human body. But these are not medical students − not yet anyway.

Students use laptops at Siler City Elementary in Chatham County.
Chatham County Schools

The North Carolina School Boards Association has taken a new step in a long-held legal battle over public school funding. The association filed a complaint Wednesday demanding state agencies pay hundreds of millions of dollars to fund technology in schools.

A Wake County Public Schools bus.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

Wake County Commissioners agreed unanimously Monday night to give preliminary approval to three bond questions that could go on that county's November election ballots. A proposed $548 million public school bond would fund planned school construction and renovation in the rapidly growing county.

The Henderson House, where Compass Center offices are located.
Courtesy of Compass Center

A Chapel Hill-based nonprofit that serves victims of domestic violence and their families is planning to expand its services next year to enable survivors to get back on their feet.

UNC System President Margaret Spellings in her office
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

A new report from The Chronicle of Higher Education ranks the country’s highest-paid university officials. A number in North Carolina fell in the top hundred – but officials from most of the state’s historically black colleges and universities were not to be found in their ranks.

Bruce Major, left, met with community leaders in Robeson County Thursday. He will serve as the head administrator of Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County, as part of the state's new Innovative School District.
Courtesy of the Innovative School District

North Carolina's experimental Innovative School District will open soon and now has a director for its first school. Community leaders in Lumberton gathered Thursday to meet Southside-Ashpole Elementary's new director Bruce Major. The public school will re-open in August under its new management.

Matt Couch / WUNC

The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year to provide security around its contentious Confederate monument. UNC police estimate that between July 2017 and July 2018, the campus has spent $393,000 dollars on security around Silent Sam.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools

North Carolina has a new law to give a school district more flexibility if it has a lot of struggling schools - and the law applies only to Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey (center-right) listens while State Superintendent Mark Johnson gives his monthly address to the board.
Jess Clark / WUNC

Tension between State Superintendent Mark Johnson and the State Board of Education has not improved since the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in a case between the two. If anything, the tension is rising.

Should North Carolina voters show a photo ID to vote in person? That will be just one of six questions voters will decide when they head to the polls in November. Legislators approved the sixth ballot question just before adjourning the spring legislative session Friday.

Picture of gavel
Flickr.com

Voters will see yet another proposed amendment to the North Carolina Constitution on their November ballots.

Picture of gavel
Flickr.com

The House has given preliminary approval to a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would change the process for filling vacant judicial seats.

The 2018 Kids Count Data Book found that the well-being of NC children improved among 10 of 16 indicators, with the most consistent gains in the area of economic well-being.
Courtesy of NC Child

A new report on the well-being of children found improvements across many measures for kids in North Carolina. The 2018 Kids County Data Book ranks North Carolina 32nd in overall child well-being in comparison to other states, with the state rising one place in the rankings in each of the past three years. The latest report found that there were fewer children in poverty, higher graduation rates and fewer teens giving birth in the state in 2016 as compared to 2010.

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

Republicans in the General Assembly rode their majority to pass three more proposed constitutional amendments Tuesday. 

Uriel Rodriguez, 12, watches on as other speakers prepare to take the podium at the "Families Belong Together" rally to protest a recent Trump administration policy of separating families detained after illegally crossing the Mexico border.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Protesters gathered in Raleigh last night for a rally against the policy of separating families who cross the southern border illegally.

A North Carolina Public Schools bus in Orange County.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

Lawmakers focused on improving school safety for months have planned to address a significant shortage of school psychologists, but none of the related bills filed by legislators look like they are going anywhere during this legislative session. 

The General Assembly passed a bill today that would change early voting times. Democrats say the bill that has been touted by Republicans as a measure to expand early voting, could actually make it harder for some to vote.

Teacher in classroom with students.
woodleywonderworks / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/auPuAq

An omnibus education bill titled "Various Changes to Education Laws" emerged from a legislative committee Wednesday. Senators added a number of provisions to an existing bill that was originally only about cursive writing, multiplication tables and advanced math classes.

A picture of a man using an e-cigarette.
www.vaping360.com / Vaping3650/Flickr

More high school students in the state say they are using e-cigarettes, or plan to start in the next year.

Fayetteville math teacher Kenneth Williams creates a life-sized right triangle in his classroom.
Jess Clark / WUNC

A new proposal to expand access to advanced math classes in public schools is moving quickly through the General Assembly.

Chandler White works on spelling words. White, 8, receives the Opportunity Scholarship voucher to attend a private school.
Lynn Hey / For WUNC

A research team that studied the test results of students in the state’s largest voucher program say a far more rigorous evaluation of the program and its outcomes for students is needed.   

Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

For many students with disabilities, going to the movie theater can be a scary experience. The blaring sounds and contrast of bright lights in a pitch-black room can be overstimulating for children with sensory-related disabilities like autism. So many theaters now offer occasional, "sensory-friendly" film screenings to make movie-going easier for all kids.

A sign indicates a no-student drop-off zone with Wake County public school buses in the background.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

Following months of planning after the school shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida, Republican leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly announced $35 million will be earmarked for new school safety measures.

In this May 12, 2017, photo, registered nurse Samantha Marz checks a student at Rundle elementary school in Las Vegas.
John Locher / AP

North Carolina could get new standards for staffing school nurses, if a new proposal goes forward.

Eight-year-old Chandler White, who struggles with dyslexia, attends The Piedmont School, a non-profit specializing in teaching students with learning disabilities.
Lynn Hey / For WUNC

Eight-year-old Chandler White is a bright-eyed, happy third grader, alternating Tae Kwon Do and spelling homework in his dining room with his mom.

He says he "really, really likes" his new school, The Piedmont School, a private school in High Point.

But, he used to hate going to school. It's the kind of thing a lot of kids say from time to time, but Chandler was really struggling, said his mom, Kara White.

Kitchen worker Nancy Martinez serves breakfast at an elementary cafeteria in Chandler, Arizona during a teacher strike there. North Carolina teachers are walking in AZ teachers' footsteps with protests this Wednesday.
Matt York / AP

A total of 38 school districts will be closed for classes Wednesday while thousands of teachers march to the Capitol to call for better school funding. Some schools will hold an optional workday, with limited operations. That means many hourly employees, like cafeteria workers or bus drivers, could miss out on a day of work.

From left to right, Eddie, Natalie and Maria Fernanda Cortes, seated outside Mount Pisgah Academy, a private Seventh-Day Adventist academy near Asheville, where the two sisters will attend school in Fall 2018.
Courtesy of Heidy Cortes Gomez

It was Saturday morning, and that meant the Cortes family was at church. They are faithful Seventh-day Adventists. Eleven-year-old Eddie played the piano to start the service.

His father, Eddie Sr. sat in the first church pew, next to Mafer, 15, and Natalie, 13, who leaned on their mom, Heidy.

Third grade teachers, Brittney Dennis, left, and Sabrina Peacock.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Thousands of North Carolina teachers will attend a rally at the Capitol Wednesday. They will call on legislators to restore funding and initiatives for teachers and students that were eliminated in the past decade.  Brittney Dennis and Sabrina Peacock are two third-grade teachers at different stages of their careers.  The two sat down to talk about the many cuts they have seen through the years, and why they plan to march. 

Teachers walk in together as they arrive for work at San Marcos Elementary School Friday, May 4, 2018, in Chandler, Ariz., after a statewide teachers strike ended. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York / AP

This Wednesday more than 10,000 teachers are expected in Raleigh on the General Assembly's opening day to demand better pay and working conditions.

Veteran educators say those demands are about restoring education funding to what it was before the recession hit and a wave of Republican-led policies and tax cuts dismantled their benefits.

Teachers have adopted the tagline: "It's Personal."

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