1. Parental support is critical. There are proven methods for increasing parental involvement. These should be encouraged instead of discouraged in North Carolina. The record shows that when parents are welcome as a part of the educational process, their children do better as students.
2. Community colleges are the backbone of workforce development. This is especially true as North Carolina adapts to the new global and technology intensive labor market. Community colleges are also an important piece of the puzzle when dealing with the dropout problem by offering GED and adult High School alternatives.
3. North Carolina has benefited from an internationally recognized university system that fosters research creativity and innovation. We should strongly support all our public universities and avoid needless duplication of programs for political purposes.
4. Family preservation is the foundation of a healthy society. Government doesn't create families, but it can hinder their healthy development. Maintaining strong families and healthy communities requires a combination of supports such as low taxes, school choice, the Defense of Marriage Act, protection of parental rights, adoption support, and adequate pay for foster parents, functional mental and physical health services, freedom of speech and religious expression in public life.
5. K-12 teachers are expected to be the parent-social worker-counselor-nurse-security officers while they teach the state mandated course of instruction. This is an unreasonable expectation. We need to adequately fund the support functions so teachers can focus on what they are hired to do ---- teach.
6. Charter Schools must not be hindered by an unfair quota system. Communities with strong backing for charter school options should have the freedom to develop those schools for the benefit of the students they will serve. This recommendation has wide support in other states because of its proven benefits.
While we have a lot to be thankful for in our schools, we must improve the state of our education system for the sake of our children and for North Carolina's future. North Carolina lags behind on test scores and graduation rates, and we are consistently ranked among some of the lowest performing states. Fortunately, North Carolina has the resources and the ability to rank well in student achievement, and we must work together to bring about positive change.
Closer to home, we must continue to improve all of our county schools. As a parent and former Mecklenburg County Commissioner, I know fundamental change is needed to get CMS on a better footing with the county government. The ultimate decision as to how to facilitate this improvement rests with the County Commission and School Board. But,the scope of change needed to get CMS on the right track may require enabling legislation from the General Assembly. I will work hard to secure support for enabling legislation to bring about the transformation of CMS.
President Obama has quite correctly pointed out the value of the charter school option as a part of a strong public education policy and North Carolina must end its limits on the number of these schools available to families who opt for them. Public charter schools, including the nationally recognized KIPP Academies, technical alternatives in high schools, school choice, and neighborhood schools facilitate and encourage parental involvement in the education process and in selecting a school most suited to the needs of their child.
Our traditional acceptance of well-managed home schooling as an option in our state provides a model for states where this option is less common.
I am a primary sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Amendment bill which would allow the voters of North Carolina to decide how marriage will be defined in this state. This may not make me popular in some segments of the North Carolina constituency but I strongly believe that to preserve the health of our families we must clearly define marriage. Numerous studies have shown that children do best in homes that have both a mother and father present. This is not to imply that other family structures can't provide a safe and constructive home, but we must recognize the positive foundational societal influence of the traditional family.
I also believe that life begins at conception. As an adoptive parent and foster parent, along with two biological children, I understand that there are alternatives to abortion that protect and provide for children conceived in difficult circumstances. Government should facilitate these lifesaving options and refrain from funding abortions.