In the few short months since he was elected Governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory has made it clear that he intends to bring big changes to North Carolina. In his first 72 hours on the job he has already signed an executive order concerning the appointment procedures for court justices, and it certainly appears that other, more controversial and important changes are not far behind. The one area, however, that has received little of the governor's attention, even during the election campaign, is K-12 public school education.
One of the more significant failures of our nation's political system is that elected officials, from the president on down, are often more interested in being elected and keeping their jobs than they are in identifying the long term needs of the country. Right now, the governor is focused on jobs, and this is an area that certainly needs his attention; however, improving the employment outlook for the citizens of North Carolina, without improving its public school system, is no different than an overweight individual agreeing to participate in a grueling exercise regimen without changing his or her eating habits. In essence, they may lose some weight but the long term prognosis is not good.
It is high time that North Carolina made a bold and very dramatic change in its attitude toward public school education. Such changes need to be manifested in areas like teacher pay, early childhood education, teacher preparation programs, and the fundamental way in which our state treats and values public school education. If our new Governor is truly serious about improving the economy than he must understand that the state's future is tied directly to the quality of its public schools. This means that our teachers' per capita salaries should not rank 37th in the country and that our students' academic performance should not consistently rank in the bottom half of the 50 states.
The best way for Governor McCrory to show that he values public school education, and that he recognizes the significant role it plays in the overall future of our state, is by making it a priority agenda topic. We need to hear from our new Governor on the subject of public school education.