North Carolina’s public school system is in need of fundamental reform. The state’s one-size-fits-all approach to education is failing both our brightest and most needy students. The facts speak for themselves:
- One-third of our elementary and middle school students perform below grade level expectations in such basic subjects as math and reading. More than half perform below national standards.
- Fewer than half of North Carolina schools are meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards for No Child Left Behind, compared to 74 percent of schools nationally.
- Nearly one-third of high school students – 33,000 students each year – do not graduate. Among economically disadvantaged students, two of every five students do not graduate.
- The state is under court order (Leandro v. State) to redress problems at 20 chronically underperforming schools or find new schools for those students.
A Blueprint for Education – The Basics
It’s time our education system put kids first. Our schools must be dedicated to preparing every student for success in the real world. Public education must be more accountable to parents from top to bottom, and we must do a better job supporting and developing the teachers and school leaders responsible for our children’s future. We must give our system the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of our students and our state, by restoring schools to their communities and families. Finally, we must focus on the future, with innovative schools capable of adapting to new challenges and technologies.
+ Reduce the dropout rate and produce graduates prepared to succeed in the real world
- Create a network of academically rigorous career and high tech vocational high schools
- Reform the state testing system so that it accurately measures student proficiency
- Work more closely with the private sector to develop school-to-career pathways
- Implement comprehensive, locally-tailored ninth-grade transition programs for at-risk freshmen
+ Raise expectations and help students, teachers, and principals to excel
- Expand training and mentoring opportunities for principals
- Give principals more control over staffing and budgetary decisions
- Create world-class, research-driven continuing education courses for teachers and give teachers more opportunity to take advantage of this training
- Develop pilot pay plans for teachers based on career ladders, professional development, performance pay and peer evaluation
- Improve financial incentives for teachers who meet or exceed targets for student progress or who work in high need subjects
+ Restore schools to their communities and give parents a greater voice in their children’s education
- Fully implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Charter School Study Commission
- Provide tax credits and deductions to parents or corporations who invest in approved education expenses
- Allow parents more input in the school their child attends
- Partner with nonprofit and other organizations with a proven record of helping at-risk students succeed
+ Reinvent schools to meet 21st century challenges
- Streamline school finance so that more money is dedicated to each child and less to administrative costs
- Ensure that limited school construction funds are better targeted to needed areas
- Develop new ways to encourage young people and mid-career workers to transition into teaching
- Create professional and financial incentives for teachers to serve low-performing students and underserved schools