"If we don't even tell our teachers what grade-level standards are, how can we expect our students to master that," Fletcher said.
"We must look at new ways of recruiting teachers and we must accelerate our efforts to retain the teachers we have, the teachers who are doing an excellent job in the classroom," Atkinson said.
Fletcher is a marketing executive with more than a decade as a Wake County School Board member while Atkinson is a former teacher and the state director of Instructional Services.
"I have a 33-year record of service and leadership to public education in North Carolina. I am known throughout North Carolina as being an educational reformer," Atkinson said.
"What I tell teachers is I'll never come to the classroom and tell you how to teach. I know I'm not a teacher," Fletcher said. "What I do very well is develop systems and structure that support you, and will help you be your very best in the classroom."
Historically, the state superintendent post has been held by a Democrat.
"What I bring to the table is an ability to bring people from both parties together," Fletcher said.
"It certainly would help a state superintendent to be of the same party as the governor," Atkinson said.
Democrat Mike Ward held the post for nearly eight years. He stepped down in September to follow his wife who was recently appointed as a Methodist bishop in Mississippi.
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