As a short-time North Carolina resident and a long-time educator, I was disheartened when I saw other states luring away our state’s teachers with the promise of better pay and more professional consideration. Back in the dark ages of the 1990’s when I was a classroom teacher in Colorado, North Carolina teachers were held in such high esteem for their innovation and success with students. Ten years later I moved to New Jersey and teachers were still looking to North Carolina teachers for inspiration and best practices in instruction. Most education conferences I attended during that period had at least one session that highlighted a curriculum or instruction practice initiated in North Carolina.
Last week my faith was rekindled when I attended The Public School Forum of North Carolina’s program entitled 2016 Eggs & Issues Breakfast. Usually in an election year there is a lot of bravado about what school boards have accomplished and what great people the legislators are for all they have contributed to education. Very little credit is given to the teachers for their invaluable contribution to educating students. Even though there was a group called NC SPIN that had a panel including a few of the afore-mentioned types, overwhelmingly the program was filled with a substantive look at issues in NC education.
Keith Poston, President and Executive Director of Public School Forum of North Carolina, and James E. Ford, 2014’s North Carolina Teacher of the Year, presented the Top 10 Education Issues of 2016:
- Direct Adequate Resources to Public Schools, Teachers, and Leaders
- Transform the Profession to make NC a Teaching Destination Again
- Emphasize Quality, not Quantity, in Charter School Growth
- Elevate Race as a Focal Point of Public Education
- Fix the Broken A-F Grading System
- Support the State’s Struggling Schools
- Maintain High Standards for North Carolina
- Make Evidence-Based Decisions on Expansion of Private-School Vouchers
- Expand Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education
- Build Bridges for Students through Expanded Learning
I was impressed that the list did not shy away from the hard issues of race, inequality, grading, charter schools, and vouchers. They addressed the treatment of teachers and teacher salaries as well as NC higher education’s part in attracting future teachers. I found myself taking copious notes as if it were information from a college text and I was preparing for an exam — the information was that pertinent.
On the NC SPIN Panel, Chris Fitzsimon, founder and Executive Director of NC Policy Watch, and Keith Poston were the most vocal on the issues and offered some plausible solutions. Red Hat’s Government and Community Affairs Manager Melanie Chernoff presented insight from the business sector as to what business wants to see from NC education.
Each guest left with a booklet complete with an in-depth analysis on each issue, including research, history, graphs and proposed solutions. If you would like to see some of the discussion from Eggs & Issues, check the NC Spin website at www.ncspin.com for the February air date on WRAL.