LAURINBURG — The number one issue facing education in North Carolina is exercising strong education leadership for North Carolina’s children, an education advocate told local Democrats on Thursday.
Lauren Bock, research director for the Public School Forum of North Carolina was the featured speaker at the Scotland County Democratic Women’s February meeting. Bock talked about the top 10 educational issues facing the state.
“This is something the Public School Forum has been doing for awhile, If you look back about 20 years ago, the forum put out its first annual forecast called Ten to Watch,” Bock said.
Leaders in the state need to “maintain a constant focus on excellent teaching and learning,” according to Bock.
“Our responsibility is to educate each and every child that comes through our public school’s doors,” she said.
This includes efforts to retain and recruit great teachers and principals. Principal pay in North Carolina ranks 50 out 51, which includes Washington D.C. and for teachers pay, the state is ranked 41.
The Public School Forum believes North Carolina leaders need to direct resources to the state’s most vulnerable students and struggling schools, Bock said.
Carol McCall, Scotland County commissioner, agreed.
“Poverty is the biggest issue in Scotland County,” McCall said. “I think there was a good point made about how we choose to live in neighborhoods, but we need to get past geography and look at how poverty is so pervasive across the whole spectrum of our population.
“I think that is the underlying issue here in Scotland County.”
The state also needs to maintain a strong focus on race in public schools, improve grade-level reading, transition into personalized digital age learning models, create meaningful and streamlines assessments and increase support for the state’s struggling schools, according to Bock.
Other issues facing the state in 2017 include funding public schools fairly and adequately, make teaching in North Carolina great again, improving access, equity and accountability in school choice, increase pay for principal pay and invest in the next generation of school leaders.
Democrat Jan Schmidt said an additional issue the state may need to be concerned with is the inexperience of Betsy DeVos, the new U.S. secretary of education.
“I know there are a whole lot of teachers in this room, people how have sent their children through public school, and so we have a sense of what education is, we have a sense of what helps children to learn, we have a sense of what our community needs and I’m no sure the new secretary of education does,” Schmidt said.
For information on the Public School Forum of North Carolina’s research, visit www.ncforum.org.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171