Ed chief: NC sets tone for improving schools

Posted July 10, 2012

— U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says North Carolina is taking classroom performance to a new level through its early childhood education programs, efforts to improve graduation rates and K-12 reforms.

"I'm just a huge fan of what's going on in North Carolina," Duncan said Monday during a WRAL News visit to the White House. "I think North Carolina is leading the country in where we need to go, and they're taking all my money, which is a great thing."

North Carolina secured $400 million in federal Race to the Top grants in 2010 and won $70 million in early childhood education funding last December.

Federal funding accounts for about 16 percent of the budget for North Carolina public schools, even with the loss of stimulus funds this year.

"As a country, we need to educate our way to a better economy, and we want to continue to invest very heavily in North Carolina because we think the state gets how fundamentally important this is," Duncan said.

North Carolina is one of several states granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind rules. Duncan said he wants states to keep themselves accountable by setting a high bar for standards while also having flexibility with scarce resources.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said the waiver will help North Carolina close achievement gaps. Even with cuts to school spending in recent years, she said, the state's graduation rate has gone up 10 percentage points in the last five years and is now at record levels.

Education secretary Arne Duncan Education secretary talks up NC public schools

Duncan said he has noticed the improvement, and he praised the state's innovation.

"I always think the best ideas in education come at the local level, not from me, frankly, or anyone else in Washington," he said. "It comes from great teachers, principals, superintendents and parents and students themselves."

Looming federal spending cuts to education could have a huge impact in North Carolina, however. Career tech education, child nutrition and aid to students in poorer counties could be wiped out by the budget cuts.

"It really would play havoc with our school districts, especially since they are dealing with fewer resources than they have had in recent years," Atkinson said.

"It's my fervent hope we won't get to that point," Duncan said. "It would potentially lead to massive cuts in Pell grants, massive cuts in K-12 reform and, in a time when we have to get better faster than ever before, we can't afford to take a step backward."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • BernsteinIII Jul 11, 2012

    The Feds are the problem. There is nothing in the Constitution giving the federal government any control over local educatio

  • westernwake1 Jul 11, 2012

    If North Carolina is a leader in Education .... then the rest of the country must be a complete disaster.

    U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's speech is just an opportunity for the Democrats to push their failed education agenda.

  • ashwednesday36 Jul 11, 2012

    Students molesting other students in classrooms. Administrators Treating teachers like they have no clue as to what they are doing? Allowing students to break the law in schools and let them getting them away with it thus setting them up for being arrested as soon as they get out in the real world. be in Carolina!

  • kermit60 Jul 11, 2012

    Isn't it great when the Feds tax us (take our money) and then give it back when we do what they like and act like they are doing us a favor. Let us keep the money in the first place so the people of the state can decide what to do with their money.

  • beachboater Jul 11, 2012

    "I think North Carolina is leading the country in where we need to go, and they're taking all my money, which is a great thing."

    "Taking all MY money"??????? All HIS money????? what stump did this "idjut" jump out from behind. That is OUR (the taxpayer's) money.

    North Carolina is doing great things, but was given a waiver on no child left behind. Wow. Talk about an oxymoron.

    Many schools down east have a significant number of english as a second language students. There is no way these kids can compete or excel with the language barrier. Their lower test scores are not the fault of the teachers, yet the teachers and individual schools are penalized for the lower scores.

    How can someone do well on standardized tests if they don't speak the language? The ABC's and No Child Left Behind don't take this into account.

    Schools need to go back to the basics. Reading, writing, arithmetic and DICIPLINE!!!

  • JustAName Jul 11, 2012

    "I always think the best ideas in education come at the local level, not from me, frankly, or anyone else in Washington,"

    Agreed. Shut down your department.

  • mustainemad Jul 11, 2012

    With NC ranking somewhere in the "30's" (depending on which ranking you choose to believe, I question them all) of the states, and this guy says NC "sets the tone" for the nation???? You've got to be kidding me, right?????

  • BlahBlahBlahBlahBlah Jul 11, 2012

    Fob..Full of Bull