We cannot continue – and our students can’t afford – policies that merely throw more money at a badly broken education system. We must demand better results, and positive change.
It’s a proven fact that the ability to read by fourth grade drastically improves students’ chances to graduate high school. The Excellent Public Schools Act ensures reading proficiency by adding reading-intensive instruction for struggling students. Our reforms also end social promotion of students who aren’t ready for fourth grade.
North Carolina has some of the greatest teachers in the country. We want to recognize and reward the best of them with bonuses and merit-based pay increases. High-quality teachers lead to better student performance and quality of life beyond the classroom. Since local school officials know their schools and teachers better than state legislators, we’re letting them craft the details of these programs.
Boosting accountability in the classroom by employing teachers on annual contracts that are renewed based on performance. The current system rewards mediocrity and punishes excellence by granting job security to all who teach a few years.
Parents, students, principals and other teachers know the best and worst teachers in their school systems. A system that recognizes and rewards high-quality teachers should harness their feedback.
We must focus more on improving failing schools. But we first have to determine where those schools stand and how they need to improve. We will allow parents and the public to clearly identify high-achieving, average and failing schools by creating a transparent system to grade schools A to F. This will encourage weak schools to improve and allow parents to determine the best options for their children.
A new North Carolina Teacher Corps program – modeled on Teach for America – will train the best and brightest recent college graduates and mid-career professionals and place them in low-performing schools where they’re needed most.
We’re fully funding the five additional days in the classroom we added last year.
Similar reforms are working in other states across the country. Florida, for example, made substantial gains in its fourth grade reading scores, significantly improved its graduation rates, and saw tremendous progress in closing its achievement gaps after it passed comparable legislation.
We’re willing to negotiate the details, and we are willing to debate the best education policy – that’s why we filed the bill nearly a month before session. But we will not engage the forces of the far left or those who perpetuate the lie that we’re anti-public education, or that we’re dismantling our schools. Our teachers, our parents and, most important, our children deserve bold proposals and honest, fact-based debate.