Raleigh, N.C. — After laying out his plans to reform Medicaid, transportation funding and job-recruitment efforts, Gov. Pat McCrory turned his attention Wednesday to education reform.
McCrory met with his Education Cabinet – Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey, University of North Carolina President Tom Ross, North Carolina Community College System President Scott Ralls and Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos – along with Eric Guckian, his education policy adviser.
The governor said his goal is to abandon the system that separates students by age and have a unified system that carries everyone from birth through higher education.
"(We want) to see where we can improve education, where it'll have an impact, but more than anything where we can work together as a team as opposed to working as individual silos that are often competing with each other instead of working with each other," he said.
Guckian said he hopes the group can work together to develop two or three bold ideas by next May, when state lawmakers convene for their 2014 legislative session.
The ideas should be centered on five goals: more opportunities for graduates, meaningful careers for educators, student literacy measurements, educational options for families and a cost-effective system for taxpayers.
"From birth to the third grade is absolutely critical, and I think that would be something that I would think warrants our investment," Guckian said.
McCrory said he also wants to find an innovative way to improve teacher pay. "We've got to find ways to reward the best and the brightest," he said.
Atkinson said she sees a disconnect between the message and the funding, noting state spending on education has been slashed in recent years.
"If we don't continue that investment, then we will be seeing hard times for public education," she said.
McCrory acknowledged that education funding has been "pretty tough," but he said it was his goal to hold the line on the state budget this year as North Carolina continues to recover from the recession.