State News

Atkinson wants clear statement on who runs N.C. schools

Posted February 3, 2009
Updated February 4, 2009

— North Carolina schools superintendent June Atkinson wants the Legislature to decide once and for all her role in supervising public education.

Atkinson wrote a letter Tuesday to House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, asking them to work to restore authority to her job or give the governor complete control over the public schools.

The Legislature and State Board of Education have given power to and taken away power from the superintendent since the 1990s. The post currently has few duties, although voters elect the superintendent. Atkinson was re-elected in November.

Gov. Bev Perdue last week appointed Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Bill Harrison as chairman of the State Board of Education and chief executive of the state's public school system. Former education board Chairman Howard Lee was named executive director of the Education Cabinet, a policy-making group that has been dormant for several years.

Perdue's move came in response to a consultant's report that criticized the state Department of Public Instruction for lacking a clearly defined leadership structure.


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  • agricon3 Feb 4, 2009

    I suggest everyone investigate total dropout rate, not senior dropout rate. Last number I saw was close to 30%. This is the number of students enrolled for 9th grade to the actual number of students that graduate. Some education directors argue method and numbers to get this percentage are unfair- I say a dropout is a dropout. Public school has become a push you to college club and not all students need college. My guess is if more trade,service, and community service classes were offered with better scheduling and more promotion, the dropout rate would improve. A friend has had to go every semester(5 so far) to get her son in auto mechanics class. The class has a waiting list and he loves it, which keeps him going to school. Thank God he has an advocate, most kids that drop don't. Keep June, we elected her, and hold her responsible-good or bad.

  • thnkb4uspk Feb 4, 2009

    I am a teacher, and I invite EVERYONE to take one day to volunteer at your local school. Just DO it and quit talking about how "bad" or "good" our school systems are. You will find, I believe, that students and teachers do quite well every day in the learning environment in spite of the wilted and irrelevant bureaucracy which exists at the state and national levels. We have school every day, and we KNOW what to do. Yes, we have dropouts, but we also have students who are national scholars, who are working to support their families while going to school, and who are respectful, wonderful citizens. Failed schools? Not at all. Failed organizations who pretend to KNOW about schools....EVERYWHERE.
    Did our governor even send her own children to NC public schools? If not, why? She apparently thought we weren't good enough for her children, and nothing...I mean NOTHING...could be further from the truth. She needs to spend some time with us too.

  • oldfirehorse Feb 4, 2009

    shep- You got that right! And it's clear the kids don't run the system, or they wouldn't feel so frustrated in the futility of it that they drop out at a rate of 12% a year. And as for the folks with the pink palace references, well, there's a number of palaces in raleigh. The esteemed governor lives in one of them! Maybe it's time her to move on before she makes any more grandiose mistakes!

  • Citizen7265 Feb 4, 2009

    There are NO TEACHER'S UNIONS IN NC! But oh, how we can dream!

  • shep8851 Feb 4, 2009

    I've noticed some statements regarding a teachers union. Ain't no such animal in North Carolina--state law prohibits state employees from unionizing. The NCAE is an employee organization concerned basically with lobbying on various issues, providing legal and other support to its members. The NCAE certainly doesn't run the education system in NC. If it did, teacher salaries and working conditions would be one heck of a lot better than they are..

  • Cricket at the lake Feb 4, 2009

    Ditto: the teacher's unions run the schools. Is she elected or appointed?

  • oldfirehorse Feb 4, 2009

    How about this? We leave Dr. Harrison in Cumberland County, let him continue working on the drop-out rate there, and when the next election for Dr. Atkinson's job comes up he can run against her? Then, maybe quit trying to neuter the Super.'s job and let her have a fair shake at running her department? Her success or failure would be good press for the next election. Then maybe the Governor could focus on more pressing issues and not have to spend time on subverting the election process, and subjugating the will of the people of this great state. Just a thought.

  • capitalland Feb 4, 2009

    Uh, Bev, Its the teacher's unions that run education in North Carolina. Now you know.

  • shep8851 Feb 4, 2009

    budpenny: Before you speak, you should know what you are talking about. I am a fully certified high school social studies teacher, with over 20 years in the classroom. I have known Dr. Harrison as both a boss and a friend for as long as I have been teaching. I would suggest that before you begin to proscribe anyone's comments or opinions, that you find out just what the he - - it is that you are talking about.

  • Ready2Taxi Feb 4, 2009

    Good for you, June!

    This should be easy for WRAL to find in the archives. Right after the 2000 elections, Bev Perdue was in favor of eliminating the elected Council of State in order to create appointed positions, a cabinet, to serve the governor. Power grab, in deed.