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Think tank: Invest in NC's teachers, increase graduation rates

Posted February 28, 2011
Updated March 19, 2012

— A nonprofit think tank of business, education and government leaders say North Carolina needs to focus more on improving the quality of the state’s teaching force and reducing the high school dropout rate.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina on Monday released a report that resulted from a year-long study of state education policies.

Among its recommendations is establishing a consistent approach to teaching.

“Right now, we have 2,500 schools,” the Public School Forum’s executive director, John Dornan, said. “We have literally hundreds of different approaches to teaching reading and math. Some are good; some are terrible.”

Dornan said the group believes the state also needs to make teaching a more attractive profession.

“I'm saying: Run it like a business,” he said. “There is such a thing as supply and demand. Math and science people are in high demand. We're going to have to pay more to get them.”

On improving graduation rates, Public School Forum’s report suggests lengthening the school day in elementary and middle schools that feed into high schools with below-average graduation rates.

Citing the success of early-education programs such as Smart Start and More at Four, the group also recommends putting more resources into pre-schools and elementary schools up to grade three.

It cites studies that show that if students are falling behind by third grade their chance of catching up is slim, unless schools act.

The group now plans to send its recommendations to state lawmakers and state school officials for review.


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  • ew2152 Mar 2, 2011

    Smaller class sizes do not improve education. That has been shown by a multitude of studies, including a UN study. Smaller class sizes only help poor teachers to cope.

    The ONLY studies that say otherwise are the ones sponsored by teachers organizations. Well go figure.....

  • ew2152 Mar 2, 2011

    I love to see you spend a day at my job. I'm sure you couldn't handle it either. Yes, teaching is a difficult job when it's done right, but that doesn't mean that thowing money at it will fix the eductional system. We have too many teachers that are underpaid and too many that are overpaid. We need a system, like private schools, where the good ones earn more and the bad ones work somewhere else. Even with todays system, some counties have waiting lists for teaching jobs. That means that they are already paying enough to attract a lot of people. Some counties have no waiting list. They need to open mindedly investigate to find out why no one wants to work there. The answer is normally student discipline, not salary

  • ew2152 Mar 2, 2011

    The best way to invest in teachers is to make them competative. The best should be able to command larger salaries, while the bad ones should be out of teaching.

    Making more schools private would accomplish that. Teachers could work where they are paid the best. The other schools would have to pay more to compete.

    The state should handle payments to insure equal opportunity. The schools with the longest waiting lists (and other factors) get paid the most per student.

  • whatusay Mar 1, 2011

    Alex25...all this started with LBJ and welfare. Many people today feel an education is not important because the government will support them if they don't want to work. They will also receive free health care, free housing, free food, and a free cell phone. Agreed, many people want to be self sufficient and they will get an education and make lots of money so the government can take it from them and give to the less educated who live off tax payers. What a life.

    Don't blame teachers, blame politicians and welfare.

  • clayt85 Mar 1, 2011

    Sure, commenters. Lets privatize education and watch what happens. You have to be gravely uninformed to find that solution appealing.

    US schools are falling behind as a result of a society which does not value education, cause by a culture which values quick and easy solutions. When teachers are valued and paid a living wage, education will improve.

    Privatizing education associates school with increased cost to a family, which will never improve the national educational standard. It will limit education to the wealthy. Consult your favorite history textbook to find out why that is a bad idea.

  • davidbh61255 Mar 1, 2011


  • Alex25 Mar 1, 2011

    Prior to 1972, without any Federal aid, or grants, or the NEA, America's schools were the best. Teachers taught. Students learned. Seems like the more money we pump into the system now, the worse it does. Smaller class sizes? Take a look at DC's class sizes, the smallest in the country, yet they rank near the bottom, Montana ranks near the top has has the biggest class sizes. These "Think Tanks" are staffed with NEA supporters and the constant chant of "mo' money." We do need to fundamentally CHANGE our education system. Let's get the FEDS and the NEA out of it. Let's do away with tenure. Let's simplify the curriculum. Let's offer higher learning opportunities to those that are capable, and vocational to those who are not. We need to preach that there is no "right" to a free public education, it is a privilege. If we have children that are disruptive or don't care, don't waste our money. Yes, I favor "vouchers," cause they will force public systems to compete!!!------------OUTSTANDING!

  • Alex25 Mar 1, 2011

    # 1 success indicator for students: Family Culture and Parents!

    NOT MORE $$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • anneonymousone Mar 1, 2011

    Students are not "customers"; society as a whole benefits from having an educated populace, which is why school taxes are not just paid by parents and guardians of school-aged children.

    Education is neither a product nor an event. It can not be commodified as such.

  • anneonymousone Mar 1, 2011

    The think tank's leader said that "the state also needs to make teaching a more attractive profession," and then quoted as saying "Run it like a business.” It may be that I am reading these sentences ouot of context, but that troubles me. In a school that was operated as a business, teachers with high class averages, little homework, and class activities and assessments that offered few challenges would receive high approval ratings, but is that what education is for?

    Students are not our customers when they are in our classes, and they may not be in the ideal place to judge our methods. As a teacher, I see my job as serving those students' future selves by teaching them today. When they have more experience in the world and are able to recognize what they need to do and are able to accomplish, they are in a better position to judge their education and their teachers.

    When they have the tools to learn on their own and evaluate what they learn, then they may render judgment.