Liz Schlemmer

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Policy Reporter, a fellowship position supported by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. She has an M.A. from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Media & Journalism and a B.A. in history and anthropology from Indiana University.

She has previously served as a temporary Morning Edition producer and intern at WUNC and as a news intern at St. Louis Public Radio. Liz is originally from Indiana, where she grew up with a large extended family of educators.

 

The nation's largest HBCU is having a blockbuster year for fundraising. North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro has raised $88 million since its fiscal year began last summer. That's almost six times what the university typically fundraises annually — and the fiscal year isn't even over yet.

"There has not been a year like that ever in our history," says Todd Simmons, N.C. A&T's associate vice chancellor for university relations. "Nor has there been a year like that in the history of nearly any other public HBCU in America."

 

Updated at 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, 2021.

The chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has clarified his role — and what he told university faculty — concerning the $2.5 million settlement involving the Silent Sam statue.

A new report by the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges has found that rural public colleges are underfunded compared to their peers.

The UNC System Racial Equity Task Force has submitted its final report recommending changes across North Carolina's public universities. 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has announced it's expanding a successful early literacy program to all North Carolina counties.

 


Maverick Whitley is a junior at Brevard College majoring in music education. He's been playing instruments since he was three years old and dreams of being a high school music teacher.

East Carolina University has its newest chancellor.

The UNC System Board of Governors has hired Philip Rogers, a Greenville native, as the next leader of ECU. He will be the 12th chancellor in the school's history.

Southeast of Raleigh, two neighboring counties – Wayne and Johnston – both saw recent rises in COVID-19 cases. Both school districts had been operating in Plan B, with students rotating into schools for in-person class. Then last week, the Wayne County school board voted to move its youngest students to in-school Plan A in January, while the Johnston County school board opted to move all its students to all-online Plan C until January.

Two neighboring school boards, in two days, went in completely different directions.

UNC system schools are growing more diverse with each new freshmen class, but the system's highest level of leadership doesn't reflect its student body or the state's population. 

Do UNC-Chapel Hill’s admissions policies disproportionately favor underrepresented minorities? That question is at the center of a federal court case on trial in Winston-Salem.

UNC-Chapel Hill now stands trial in federal district court to defend its race-conscious admissions practices. The trial, which began today in Winston-Salem, could potentially play a role in propelling the issue of affirmative action to the US Supreme Court. 

Updated at 2:40 a.m. on 11/4/2020

It was too soon to call North Carolina's U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham early Wednesday, with many votes yet to be counted.

Tillis, a first-term senator, led Cunningham by nearly 97,000 votes from among more than 5.4 million votes counted in the unofficial tally. There were still up to 117,000 outstanding mail-in absentee ballots and an unknown number of provisional ballots cast.

Early voting has concluded – and more than 4.5 million people have already cast ballots in North Carolina.

 

At the back of a high school auditorium, past the last row of seats, is a sound booth. Normally, this is where teenage techies run lights for the high school play. Now, this is where Shellie, a teacher, leads classes from behind layers of personal protective equipment and a plexiglass window.

A new study links college reopenings to spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country. The study is co-authored by UNC Greensboro economics professor Martin Andersen, Davidson College education professor Chris Marsicano and others. Marsicano is also the Director of the College Crisis Initiative.

Despite the pandemic, the UNC System reached record-high enrollment this fall for the third year in a row —  and that's good news for the university system's bottom line.

Overall, the UNC System saw a 1% increase from last year's enrollment.

"In any other year, that might be a completely ordinary bit of news," said UNC System President Peter Hans, "And yet, in this year of unprecedent disruption across our state — across our world — I think that's an extraordinary achievement."

Amanni King sits at the front desk of a residence hall at Fayetteville State University, killing time while she waits for students. She's a resident assistant and her first move-in day of the pandemic feels slow compared to the usual welcoming.

Ronda Taylor Bullock co-founded "We Are," a Durham-based non-profit committed to anti-racist education. Ronda is a former Durham Public Schools teacher who focuses on teaching children of all skin colors how to talk about racism and being anti-racist.

She runs an annual summer camp, often attended by her son Zion, who is nine years old. In this installment of our series "Calling for Change," Ronda and Zion get together to ask each other some questions.

COVID-19 outbreaks are springing up at a handful of childcare centers across North Carolina, threatening a vulnerable workforce of women who are largely low-paid and often uninsured.

Over one million North Carolinians have student loan debt, and the average borrower owes about $25,000. Even under normal circumstances, education debt can be prohibitive. 

For students and educators around the state, this year’s learning is in a state of flux. Public schools are holding out hope that they will reopen their doors before the school year ends. 

 


College sophomore Ty Meyer has been spending lots of time in parking lots lately, mostly at McDonald's or his local library. It's often his best option for accessing wifi to turn in homework. One of his NC State University classes requires him to upload video assignments. 

North Carolinians will cast their ballots on Super Tuesday for the first time next week. Although we join 13 other states in voting that day, some pundits argue North Carolina is the key state, even “ground zero”  in this presidential election cycle.


The legal battle over the UNC System’s $2.5 million settlement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans heads back to court Wednesday.

The UNC Board of Governors has accepted the resignation of a member of the East Carolina University Board of Trustees. The Board of Governors convened a special meeting to consider sanctions against ECU Trustees Phil Lewis and Robbie Moore for meddling in student government elections.

The North Carolina School of Science and Math has been aiming to open a residential campus in western North Carolina for fall of 2021, but it could be delayed by a year due to the state budget stalemate.

UNC-Chapel Hill students demonstrated in the rain outside a nearly empty board room Friday to show their discontent with the UNC System Board of Governors’ decision to give a neo-Confederate group $2.5 million to preserve the Silent Sam monument. None of the members of the Board of Governors were physically present at their December meeting to hear the students’ chants.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson and the Department of Public Instruction are taking steps to reduce the amount of time North Carolina students spend taking standardized tests. Johnson says the moves are meant to help relieve stress on students.

Four days a week, Micah Swimmer facilitates an all-day language session between young adults who are learning Eastern Band Cherokee and older, fluent speakers.

He points to the back of his classroom at the New Kituwah Academy in Cherokee, N.C. It's early September, and sheets of paper on a bulletin board display the names of 226 Eastern Band Cherokee members.

"That's all we have out of [about] 16,000 enrolled members," he says. "That's all we have left that are fluent speakers."

The Department of Public Instruction considers about 1 in 5 North Carolina teachers chronically absent, which it defines as taking 10 or more non-consecutive sick days in a school year. State education officials say chronic absenteeism is costing schools in student test scores and pay for substitute teachers.

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