State News

Atkinson says she wants state's school system fixed

Posted February 4, 2009
Updated February 5, 2009

— North Carolina schools Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson says she wants to fix what she calls a cloudy, convoluted public school management system, whether she gets the power or not.

Atkinson, who was re-elected to the post in November, 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 abolish her position and give the governor complete control over the public schools.

Last week, Gov. Bev Perdue 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.

The man Harrison replaced, Howard Lee, was named executive director of the Education Cabinet, a policy-making group that has been dormant for several years.

The Legislature and State Board of Education have been giving power to and taking it away from the superintendent since the 1990s. The post currently has few duties.

"It's not the most efficient use of taxpayers' dollars," Atkinson said Wednesday of her post.

Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand says that he's ready to act and that he thinks the governor should appoint the superintendent.

"It's a dysfunctional scenario and has been for a long time," Rand said.

It would take a constitutional amendment to change the current school management system. Abolishing a statewide elected position is difficult. Lawmakers say, however, that with the growing budget shortfall, any attempt to streamline government may be easier to pass this time.

For the Legislature to amend the constitution, the Senate and House each have to pass language by a three-fifths (60 percent) majority. The change then goes to the voters.


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  • renaizzanceman Feb 5, 2009

    I've been saying it all along. First Ward with his trip to Saudia Arabia on the taxpayer dime to Atkinson and her lack of direction. We're no better off. June, it's time for you to step down.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Feb 5, 2009

    Here's your government in action!!! You can all expect MORE of the same as the Socialist bill of 2009 get's passed!

  • FairPlay Feb 5, 2009

    She was in charge of the "convuluted" school system for years!!! Her fault , too late... let's give someone else a chance

  • x Feb 5, 2009

    This evolving story has been enlightening. I hope the media continues to drill down to the core issues. Obviously, Adkinson has been ineffective in the job and politically impotent or Purdue would have thrown her support behind her. Like so many other NC agencies, focus on the mission has been lost. I look back and have to laugh when I think about Hunt and Easley and their "Education Governor" by lines. I've lived her for 20 years and really tire of how they try to spin their positions to look like we have great primary education while in reality, NC students still score low on national tests and NC teachers still rank near the bottom of pay and benefits nationally.

  • Cricket at the lake Feb 5, 2009

    She is an elected official, elected by the citizens of North Carolina. She should not go quietly. Sounds like the case with Labor Commissionor Berry, who was also elected. Senator Doug Gerber wants to usurp her position and create his own little Labor Organization, which of course he will head up, and strip Commissioner Berry of her elected position. NC state politics at it's finest.

  • meh2 Feb 5, 2009

    Things will change, but not necessarily for the better.

  • Sidekick Feb 5, 2009

    Pure jealousy at work here! Take a look at Johnston County school board. Prior to the last election, parents were not allowed input on school issues, budgets and spending were done behind office doors or over the phone, principals were scared to death and some board members were even cussed at during meetings. Now that some responsible minded board members have taken over, the super and 3 associate supers have resigned and one board member claimed he would rather drive the retiring super's car for him than work with the new school board.
    The former Johnston County super had already applied for a job as a super in a county in SC before the Nov. election.
    Use that county school administration as a mirror of what the state school administration is. It is power at the top with coolaid drinking drones. The school system is nothing but a corrupt union and will never change as long as dems are in office.

  • USA Feb 5, 2009

    North Carolina wanted change...this is the price of change. Forget everything you heard on the campaign trail; it was all lies to get Liberals in office. If you doubt me just tell what was Bev's stance on free Community College for state residents back in October compared to her present position? She wasn't aware of the economic crisis back then? Bull. She as well as others knew their programs couldn't be supported and gave those in dire economic conditions false hope to get their vote. Now their personal agendas have kicked into high gear and to be honest, they don't care what you think right now. In three years they'll start caring again, but for now voters are the doormat for them to wipe their feet on. I sleep well at night knowing I didn’t vote for her or any of the other lunatics who are running the state and country today.

  • southern wisdom Feb 5, 2009

    By definition a "reelected" superintendent has already had a chance to fix the system and obviously failed in the leadership department.

  • are you kidding me Feb 4, 2009

    she wants it fixed, how long have you been there? what are you waiting for? OMG, please just resign!