In 2019, Fred Frelow and Frelow & Associates joined the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) research team to examine the within-school and out-of-school barriers to obtaining a sound basic education in North Carolina. LPI joined WestEd and The William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation to complete several reports for the state, including the high-poverty schools report.

Importantly Judge Howard Manning Jr. for North Carolina’s Supreme Court asserted that: The state of North Carolina must roll up its sleeves, step in, and utilizing its constitutional authority and power over the local education agencies to cause effective change when and where required. The LPI team visited schools in Buncombe, Cumberland, and Robeson counties and Chapel Hill; met with teachers, school administrators and students; reviewed school data; and visited classrooms. Case studies were completed on schools in each county.

Learning Policy Institute states in this report: The within-school and out-of-school barriers that at-risk North Carolina students face in most high-poverty schools are identifiable and together make academic success difficult to achieve. Many of these barriers are the result of a lack of human and material resources. These disadvantages are not random or incidental.

This year the Court acted. The News Observer reported on January 21, 2020:

A judge declared Tuesday that the state isn’t doing enough to ensure that North Carolina students are getting a sound basic education and ordered state leaders to “work expeditiously and without delay to take all necessary actions” to implement changes.

Superior Court Judge David Lee signed an order agreeing with the findings of an independent consultant who had recommended that the state increase education funding by $8 billion over the next eight years. The consultant found that state funding hadn’t kept up with needs, leaving students further behind academically than they were in the 1990s.1

Oakes, J., Cookson, P., Levin, S., Carver-Thomas, D., Frelow, F., Berry, B., Yang, M., George, J., Brooks, J., & Guin, S. Providing an equal opportunity for a sound basic education North Carolina’s high-poverty schools.  Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. 2019.


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