COVID-19 response, teacher pay and literacy among top 2021 priorities for state education leaders

Posted February 1, 2021 2:23 p.m. EST

— COVID-19 response and long-term planning are the top legislative budget priorities for State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, State Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis and State Board Vice Chairman Alan Duncan.

Truitt, Davis and Duncan revealed their 25 priorities in a news release Monday.

The priorities will be discussed in greater detail at the State Board of Education meeting Thursday.

They revolve around three subjects: principles and literacy, personnel, and testing and accountability.

Among the priorities are increased professional development on “science of Reading” and expansion of services for students whose first language is not English or who struggle with English.

“We recognize the need to address literacy challenges head on, as it is one of our greatest needs following a year of remote-learning,” Truitt said in the news release. “Funding for student safety and mental health will also be critical to addressing statewide learning challenges.”

Broadband and Internet connectivity largely is among the priorities this year, during a school year in which remote learning has exposed technology and economic gaps among students.

The priorities also include boosting teacher pay in North Carolina to highest in the Southeastern United States. Truitt, Davis and Duncan also call for increased support staff, support systems and school psychologists. North Carolina doesn’t meet the National School Psychologist Association recommended ratio of 1 school psychologist to every 500 to 700 students. Educators have contended the stress fo pandemic has only increased the need for districts to hire more school psychologists.

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