RALEIGH, N.C. (February 17, 2022) — The Public School Forum of North Carolina released its Progress Report on the Top Education Issues 2021-22 today during its eighth annual Eggs & Issues event. This year’s report takes a new approach, outlining both the progress made and gaps that remain when it comes to the Forum’s priorities for what should be at the forefront of education policy decision-making for the 2021-22 legislative biennium so that North Carolinians work toward eliminating the systemic racism and inequities that are visible throughout our educational system.
“As we reflect on the past twelve months and consider the investments that have been made in public education, we have been pleased to see some areas receive badly needed support,” said Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum of NC. “However, what has come into sharp focus is that there is so much work left to do. Our state continues to struggle with significant teacher vacancies with 2,600 statewide last fall, according to the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association. We struggle to fill these and other critical roles in education because we have not done enough to set up a robust pipeline that attracts the talent we need. We can — and must — do better, and the path forward is through recurring, systemic investments in public education.”
Overall, the report found that progress has been made on some of the Top Education Issues. Those areas of progress include investments in broadband access, the ADM hold harmless provision to stabilize local district funding, expansion of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program, and initial investments in educator salaries and a salary supplement program that is a starting point for low-wealth districts that struggle to recruit and retain educators. However, it is clear that our state is still far from meeting the educational needs of our students, to which they are constitutionally guaranteed. Efforts made by our state leaders over the past year to address the challenges facing our schools were sorely needed, but are insufficient to lead to systemic, long-lasting change.
“This progress report shines a light on what so many of us who work toward improving public education in North Carolina already know — that our children do not yet have access to a system of education that is well-supported across the entire spectrum of services,” said Dr. Lauren Fox, Senior Director of Policy for the Public School Forum of NC. “Our students deserve — and our state’s future depends on — prioritizing investments in public education so that every student has the opportunity to be prepared for college and career, to become critical thinkers and engaged citizens, and to feel safe, supported, and represented in their schools.”
The Forum will continue to monitor progress in these focus areas and provide the public with ongoing updates during the upcoming short legislative session. Furthermore, we commit to informing, convening and elevating the perspectives of those most impacted by disinvestment in public education; we recognize that educator, family, and student voices must guide us as we develop and promote effective strategies to build the equitable education system that we envision — and that our children deserve.
Event sponsors include Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, East Carolina University College of Education, Elinvar, LearnPlatform, Participate Learning, NC Education Lottery, North Carolina Association of Educators, Schwartz Law PLLC, TowneBank, Peter and Sandra Conway, Mary Mac and Tom Bradshaw, and UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education. Public School Forum President and Executive Director, Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, and Dr. Lauren Fox, the Forum’s Senior Director of Policy, presented the Top Education Issues to more than 500 business, education and government leaders. The full publication can be downloaded at http://www.ncforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Top-Education-Issues-2022-2.16.22.pdf
The event also included two interactive discussions with education, legislative and business leaders, which will be featured on upcoming episodes of the Forum’s weekly television show, Education Matters, airing on WRAL-TV, FOX 50 and UNC –TV’s NC Channel.
Interactive Discussion 1: PreK-12 Education is the foundation for NC’s workforce, economy and civic engagement.
Emma Battle, Higher Ed Works
JB Buxton, Durham Tech Community College
Renee Cavan, Truist
Eugenia Floyd, 2021 NC Teacher of the Year
Dale Jenkins, Curi (Retired)
Joshua Webb, Edgecombe Early College High School
Moderator: Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, Public School Forum of NC
Interactive Discussion 2: We Have a Workforce Crisis within Education
Elena Ashburn, 2021 NC Principal of the Year
Sen. Deanna Ballard, NC General Assembly
Jennie Bryan, 2021 Southeast Regional Teacher of the Year
Rep. Ashton Clemmons, NC General Assembly
Debra Derr, NC Chamber
Lisa Eads, NC Community Colleges
Deanna Townsend-Smith, NC State Board of Education
Liliana Soto, Vance County Schools
Kathy Spencer, Southeast Education Alliance
Tre Woods, NC Teacher Cadet
Moderators: Dr. Lauren Fox and Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, Public School Forum of NC
About the Public School Forum of North Carolina
The Public School Forum of North Carolina is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on improving educational outcomes for all North Carolina children. Since 1986, the Forum has been an indispensable and nonpartisan champion of better schools and the most trusted source in the state for research and analysis on vital education issues. We bring together leaders from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus, and ultimately inform and shape education policy. We do that through research, policy work, innovative programs, advocacy, and continuing education for educators and policymakers. Follow us on social media at @theNCForum.