Local Politics

Easley: Judge's Criticism of Schools 'Too Harsh'

Posted September 19, 2007 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated September 19, 2007 8:18 p.m. EDT

— Two days after a state judge blistered North Carolina schools, saying students weren't adequately prepared for high school, Gov. Mike Easley tried to soften the perception of the state's public education system.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning on Monday told a group of local educators, legislators and testing experts who comprise the state Board of Education's Blue Ribbon Commission on Testing and Accountability that the system is failing.

"We are going backward," Manning said. "The adults are failing the children."

For the past decade, the judge has overseen the Leandro case, which sought to provide more state support for school districts in low-income and rural areas.

Easley, who has touted his education programs for years, said Wednesday that he sees value in Manning's push for educational accountability. But he said he doesn't think the judge is always fair when he hammers schools over test scores.

"There is a place for criticism from from to time, and I think it's appropriate that the judge let the State Board of Education know he's not satisfied," Easley said. "(But) I don't put a lot of stock in the test scores because I don't think you're not comparing apples and apples. They changed them up."

When standards were increased in civics and math tests, for example, high school failures tripled.

"I think the words the judge uses are too harsh from time to time," Easley said.

Eddie Davis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said he agrees with Manning on several points, such as teachers offering excuses for poor results. But he said leaders need to consult classroom teachers for solutions.

"I think most people and most schools have not said, 'Let's sit down and talk to the teachers,'" Davis said.

"As long as you're making progress, that's great," Easley said. "However, as the judge points out, you cannot forget any child in North Carolina."