A bipartisan panel of education officials, lawmakers and representatives from government agencies and outside groups on Monday recommended ways to improve North Carolina’s public education and access to it, from kindergarten to college.
Members of the Hunt-Lee Commission, which was formed to address inequities in student achievement, backed 16 proposals, some of which require General Assembly approval. Others require better coordination between entities that already have the power to act, the report’s authors said.
“We have a set of tangible and actionable priority items that have the potential to have a meaningful impact on the lives of students,” said commission co-chairs Republican Senator Michael Lee of Wilmington and former Senator Howard Lee. Democrat and former State Board of Education. President. Members of the Commission released the report at a press conference.
The commission, which met four times starting in August, hailed current education successes and discussed ways to improve the system. The report also urged testing new ideas, such as monetary incentives and benefits to make early childhood education an attractive career. Pilot programs should be created to encourage increased spaces for toddlers and infants in child care centers through incentives, according to another recommendation.
As children get older, school systems could develop programs to help students transition from middle school to high school, the report says. And providing in-state college tuition for some state high school graduates who don’t have legal residency could be considered, the report said.
The commission praised several ongoing initiatives, including the state’s longstanding pre-kindergarten program, high numbers of nationally certified teachers, and a longitudinal data system that links education and labor outcomes. -to the effectiveness of the program. But the report says each could be improved. For example, board-certified teachers and other highly effective teachers might receive higher compensation for agreeing to work in high-poverty schools.
Besides Howard Lee and Michael Lee, the commission was named in honor of former four-term governor Jim Hunt, founder of the Hunt Institute. The institute is affiliated with the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy which facilitates efforts such as the commission to improve education and student outcomes.
In a press release, Hunt said the commission’s findings show that “even in our diversity of backgrounds and beliefs, we can indeed find common ground that advances our work.”
The commission had more than 30 members, including the president of the University of North Carolina system, Peter Hans; state community college system president Thomas Stith; State Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis; Superintendent of Public Schools Catherine Truitt; Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson; Geoff Coltrane, Senior Education Advisor to Governor Roy Cooper; and representatives of chambers of commerce and charitable foundations.