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Sticking Up For High Teacher Standards, Easley Vetoes Bill

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley vetoed his second bill Sunday, one that ostensibly was about teacher portfolios. But the bill also included a section stripping the State Board of Education of its authority to set teacher licensure requirements.

Easley said he doubted most legislators were aware that Senate Bill 931 stripped the standard-setting authority from the state board.

"The bill was primarily about another topic, and this section was tacked on to the end of the legislation," Easley said in a statement. "If this provision is removed, I would accept the bill."

The deadline for vetoing the bill was midnight Sunday.

On May 27, legislators approved Senate Bill 931, which eliminated a requirement that new teachers compile a portfolio before they can be licensed in North Carolina. The portfolio consisted of a 15-minute video, three essays and a case study.

The State Board of Education adopted the portfolio requirement in 1998, then suspended it last year in favor of studying alternatives.

Section four of the bill stated that "no new requirement added by the State Board of Education to the teacher certification process may be required for licensure now or in the future without explicit legislative authorization."

Easley said such a law would set back North Carolina's progress in education.

"We have made substantial progress over the past five years in education in this state because the State Board of Education has implemented rigorous standards," he said. "I am not going to let the state board's hands be tied while they are trying to make greater gains."

That section "would strip the authority to set higher standards from the state board that has overseen the most gains in education in the country, and would put it in the political arena," he said. "Education is too important to be politicized."

Easley said he notified legislative leaders of his intentions over the weekend.

"Setting teacher licensure standards in the Legislature not only politicizes the process, but it is an extremely inefficient way to make changes," he said. "The State Board can alter the process in one brief meeting, while the Legislature can only act while in session and then usually over an extended time period."

The bill, he said, is in direct conflict with the Excellent Schools Act of 1997, which requires he State Board to set rigorous standards for teachers and student achievement.

The veto marked the second time Easley has vetoed a bill. In November of last year, he vetoed an obscure bill containing about 100 appointments to boards and commissions. The bill was dotted with problems, including six appointments that Easley was supposed to make, two appointees who had died, and an auctioneer appointed to the board that punished him.

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