Governor Pat McCrory unveils education plan

August 1, 2013 12:35:33 PM PDT
Governor Pat McCrory unveiled more of his education plan in front of educators and business leaders during a special education meeting Thursday morning.

McCrory's plan for education includes a bigger focus on getting more students enrolled in community colleges, a commitment from companies to hire North Carolina graduates, and improving incentives for teachers - among other goals.

He's proposing a package of extra funds that schools would need to compete for by showing changes that improve student performance, similar to the president's Race to the Top program.

The governor also took on critics who have claimed Republicans have cut education spending. McCrory said the budget he just signed will mean the largest spending on K-12 education in state history.

"$23 million more than last year," said McCrory.

The governor said 56 percent of the state's tax dollars go to education.

"It still isn't enough and money isn't the only answer," said McCrory.

Some teachers have been openly skeptical of McCrory's plans after he signed the budget that does not give teachers raises and gets rid of tenure rights and automatic pay raises for teachers with master's degrees.

On Monday, educators flooded the final 'Moral Monday' protest and have been very vocal about not feeling valued.

"We value children too, that's why we're here," Mecklenburg County teacher Brenda Cofield said earlier this week.

"I've been a teacher for 10 years now and I'm angry my son is going into this system in two years," Wake County teacher Katie Ryan said.

It also concerns North Carolina Schools Superintendent June Atkinson that the state is starting to see high turnover rates with first, second and third-year teachers. She also said she thinks the trend will continue.

"Yes I do, and that scares me," she said Tuesday.

In his comments Thursday, McCrory said he wanted to give teachers and all state employees pay raises, but that was not approved by the General Assembly. McCrory blamed the inability to give raises on Medicaid cost overruns.

"We have got to get control of our Medicaid costs," he offered.

The governor also said he wants to reduce the amount of mandatory tests given in North Carolina.

"With this testing load we are in danger of turning our teachers into proctors," said McCrory "We need to slow down and regroup with all of these tests and let our teachers teach."

The governor also proposed the formation of a $30 million Education Innovation Fund to finance innovative schools and new digital learning initiatives.

If the federal government approves the program, it would also give a $10,000 stipend to at least 1,000 teachers selected by their peers to implement North Carolina's Career and College Ready Standards.

The "Master Teachers" would take input from colleagues and help decide what's working in classrooms and what should be dropped.

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