Today, Pat McCrory addressed the North Carolina Public Charter Schools Association to address his plan to reform North Carolina's education system and how expanding school choice for both students and parents can help improve student achievement.
"Lifting the cap on charter schools was a good first step," said Pat McCrory. "But we must be careful that a slow moving process for approving new charter schools would act as a de facto cap. My plan for education realizes that to help students achieve, we need to give students and parents greater educational choice."
While serving in the General Assembly as Co-Chair of the Senate subcommittee that oversees education spending, Walter Dalton remained hesitant on lifting or expanding the Charter School cap, saying that there was "need for more analysis." Studies showed that among students whose local public schools were low-quality, charter school lottery winners were more likely to graduate from high school, start a four-year degree program, and earn a bachelor's degree.
"We must implement a process to ensure that parents and students are not left in limbo on their school options," explained Pat McCrory. "Too many families are on waiting lists for charter schools, pinning their hopes on winning a lottery."
Pat McCrory's plan for education would expand school choice for students by expanding for-credit virtual education options, making it possible for high school students to choose from a wide range of online courses taught by the best public school teachers from across the state.
"Teaching and education can no longer be limited to lectures, chalkboards, and brick buildings," explained Pat McCrory. "We can use technology and the internet to allow struggling and advanced students to learn at their own pace within specific disciplines."
Pat McCrory's plan for education reform would also expand choice by creating two paths to a high school degree: one that prepares students to succeed in college and a second path that prepares students to enter the job market or attend a community college to receive vocational training and core skills. This reform would help better prepare students on their chosen paths. College bound students who no longer have to take remedial courses to compete on a college level. Also, students entering the work force would no longer lack vocational skills.
"Right now, the discussion about education in the state is all about the money, not about the children," said McCrory. "But we are failing to graduate 1 in 5 students from our high schools. We need to be focused on results and ensuring students are on the right track for them to attain marketable skills, graduate, get a job and lead productive lives."
Responding to growing concern about North Carolina's dropout rate in 2002, Walter Dalton moved to change how dropouts were counted in the system and was criticized for just playing with numbers. As a legislator, Walter Dalton also supported lowering testing standards for students as well as lowering standards for teachers.
"10 years ago, Walter Dalton created a committee to study North Carolina's high dropout rate, and our schools are still failing to graduate 1 in 5 students from our public schools," explained Pat McCrory. "Our broken government has failed to address this problem over the years and new leadership is required in the Governors office to take action to reform education."
To reform education, Pat McCrory believes we need to work with students, parents and educators to address the root causes of failure and provide students with more options, not play number games and lower standards for teachers and students.