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Bill seeks to improve student readiness

Posted May 8, 2013

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— State lawmakers are working on a bill that would create public-private partnerships to fund programs to help more North Carolina students prepare for college and careers.

The Education and Workforce Innovation Act is expected to be heard in the state House Education Committee next week. The legislation – sponsored by four representatives whose districts include Carrabus, Union, Edgecombe, Martin and Johnston counties – would build programs that integrate workforce training and classroom instruction so students graduate with the competitive edge needed in a global economy.

The Early College Academy at Wilson Community College is an example of the kind of program proponents say the act will fund. Up to 250 Wilson County students are in Early College, where they earn their high school diploma and associate’s degree at the same time.

“I’ll be leaving with a two-year degree, an associate’s degree, and also my high school diploma,” student Alfonso Estupinan said.

Superintendent Sean Bulson said the unique teacher training and philosophy from the Early College Academy can be applied elsewhere.

“It’s really future-looking, where instruction is totally different from what they’ve seen at other schools,” he said.

The bill has the blessing of Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, who said he also expects the business community to buy in. The legislation calls for any state money put into the grants to be matched by a combination of private and local funds.

Jim Whitehurst, chief executive officer of Red Hat, a technology company that employs 1,200 North Carolinians, said he’s willing to invest in programs that offer a return.

“We know it’s a concept that’s successful and is driving innovation, which is why the process is so exciting to me,” he said.

Whitehurst said the business world has used the same concept for years. It’s the basis behind Silicon Valley and venture capitalism.

“(We) would love to hire more people in North Carolina. It’s a great place for us to hire people. There’s a talent gap. Things that can help the talent gap add value.”

7 Comments

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  • davidgnews May 9, 6:52 p.m.

    Community Colleges are far more community-market driven than their higher counterparts. Maybe the legislature will do something right for a change (no pun intended).

  • Terkel May 9, 10:30 a.m.

    “It’s really future-looking, where instruction is totally different..."

    If this is how the Superintendent speaks, we need to put the brakes on until the educators are educated.

  • Teacher-Scientist May 9, 9:26 a.m.

    It would also really help if the state restored some of the funding taken from traditional schools (which can still be good places to go) instead of continuing to reduce our funding at every opportunity.

  • corey3rd2 May 9, 8:59 a.m.

    But is there any real respect for an AB degree which is given to kids in high school? Or will this be treated like an MBA from an online college? "That's sweet of them to give you a piece of paper." Is Red Hat really going to just start hiring fresh out of high school employees?

  • fatchanceimwrong May 9, 8:56 a.m.

    It's refreshing to see resources being allocated to the benefit of hard working students who want to get ahead in life and are willing to study and work hard in order to be successful. And it's nice to see the business community supporting the program. It seems lately that most everything in the news is about entitlement spending and programs geared toward non-achievers. Programs to help them are needed of course, but it's good to see some balance with programs for those who are willing to work for what they get.

  • tgiv May 8, 7:50 p.m.

    It was a good idea when they implemented it at least 6 years ago in Wake and other counties. I guess it's now a better idea.

  • whatelseisnew May 8, 7:17 p.m.

    Based on nothing more than this article is sounds like a good idea. I assume that the students can then move on to any college do two more years and obtain their bachelors. I hope the legislature controls the State Universities and require them to accept every Credit that the student is bringing with them.