SREB notes on PEPSC meetings show desire for shadowy Human Capital Roundtable to control NC licensure/compensation reform

Newly obtained public records give insight into the shadowy Human Capital Roundtable’s desire to control PEPSC’s licensure/compensation reform effort.

The 26 pages of notes on the second round of PEPSC subcommittee meetings were taken by the Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) project manager Megan Boren in April 2021 and provided to Roundtable members.

Ms. Boren also took notes on the first round of meetings, but that document is locked up tighter than Fort Knox to prevent the public from seeing it:

The meetings covered in SREB’s notes began just a couple of months after HCR presented the Pathways to Excellence merit pay framework to the State Board of Education. (Pathways was then handed over to PEPSC to serve as a starting point for its work.)

SREB’s meeting notes paint a very different picture from the HCR’s public narrative–suggested by marketing firm Eckel and Vaughan in documents I have previously published–that Human Capital Roundtable members “…are not experts on PEPSC’s proposal. We are simply following PEPSC’s work and support its foundational ideals.”

It’s really important to remember that, despite its obvious control issues, the Human Capital Roundtable had no legal authority to influence PEPSC’s work.  

PEPSC was created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2017 to study and make recommendations on licensure.  

The Human Capital Roundtable’s origins are secret, but it’s crystal clear the group–which includes a State Board of Education member, high ranking DPI employees, and Governor Cooper’s Education Advisor–does not have any legislative mandate whatsoever. That makes its attempts to influence the policy development process while pretending it’s just watching from the sidelines extremely troubling.

I’ll embed the entire notes document at the end of this piece but wanted to highlight a handful of sections that stood out to me.

1: The notes mention SREB sending a “never made public” Roundtable salary chart to Governor Cooper’s Education Advisor Geoff Coltrane during the Budget and Compensation meeting.  It sounds like the Human Capital Roundtable and SREB were literally trying to direct PEPSC’s subcommittee work from the outside in real time.

2. SREB’s Project Manager throws shade at subcommittee co-chairs Van Dempsey and Aaron Fleming, indicating neither has an appropriate understanding of the Human Capital Roundtable’s wishes.  (Dempsey and Fleming have since been selected as chair and
vice chair of the PEPSC Commission.)

3. Boren suggests that subcommittee co-chair Maureen Stover or (now retired) DPI employee Robert Sox may need to limit the input of UNCC’s Laura Hart in the meeting.  That seems bold to say the least.

Side note:  I’ve searched through the thousands of public records I’ve accumulated over the last six months and cannot find the secret Human Capital Roundtable salary chart mentioned in point 1.  It’s likely among the many official state records SREB is withholding from the North Carolina public on the Google Site it set up for HCR members back in 2018. 

A June 2021 email indicates Boren continued her practice of taking notes on subcommittee meetings for the Human Capital Roundtable, so many more documents such as this one likely exist. Those records would shed more light on how this secretive, unauthorized group of public officials influenced the development of the controversial merit pay proposal which is now poised to completely upend how North Carolina’s teachers are licensed and paid. 

But until the Southern Regional Education Board, the State Board of Education which holds its strings, and the four North Carolina legislators who serve on SREB’s Legislative Advisory Council have a change of heart on their responsibilities regarding transparency for North Carolina, we will remain largely in the dark.

You can read SREB’s complete notes on the second round of PEPSC subcommittee meetings below:


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