From an editorial Sunday in the Raleigh News & Observer:
These are not good days for North Carolina’s public schools. The problems with low funding for school operations and the paltry pay for teachers are well known. But what is more troubling is the poverty of faith in the purpose and potential of public schools.
Some state lawmakers think public schools are hopelessly bureaucratic, and ineffective in teaching the basics of reading and math. Their solution is to create options. They’ve lifted the limits on charter schools and pushed through a voucher program for students from low-income families they describe as “trapped” in lousy public schools.
Given that grim view, it was uplifting to hear about the success of an investment in public schools that the Republican-controlled legislature has supported. Last month, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced in Greensboro that NC New Schools has been awarded a $20 million grant to expand its work in North Carolina as well as in several other states.
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NC New Schools aspires to renew old schools. It sends teams of master teachers into schools in rural and low-income urban areas to assist administrators and develop the teaching staff.
“What we are trying to do across the nation, in inner-city urban areas, on Native American reservations, in rural communities in North Carolina and other places is give a sense of what’s possible,” Duncan said.
That is a good message for lawmakers to expand on in their next session: Don’t give up on public schools – lift up expectations for public school students.