RALEIGH, NC (January 19, 2016) – The Public School Forum today released its Top Ten Education Issues for 2016 during its 2nd Annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast in Raleigh. Biogen was the presenting sponsor for this year’s event. Forum President and Executive Director Keith Poston and James E. Ford, the Forum’s Program Director and former NC Teacher of the Year, presented the annual list to more than 200 business, education and government leaders. The complete publication can be found here.

“This year’s Top Ten echoes similar challenges  from last year, with limited funding for the state’s public education priorities and continued concerns about teacher pay and the teacher pipeline persisting as major themes into 2016,” said Poston.

The publication spotlights the state’s failure to adequately capitalize on the state’s economic recovery to benefit our public schoolchildren, noting that the past years’ changes to the tax code “shrunk the pie” and left significantly less money available for all public priorities, including schools.

Today North Carolina is in the bottom 10 nationally and among the lowest in the Southeast in per-pupil spending, spending $855 less per student in 2015 than we did in 2008. The recession undoubtedly contributed to the drop, but only five states experienced worse declines over the same period. Our state’s average teacher pay still ranks 42nd nationally, up from 47th the previous year and second-to-last in the Southeast. North Carolina ranks dead last, nationally, in teacher salary growth over the past decade. And it’s not just teacher pay that’s lagging: NC principals’ pay ranks 50th among all states and the District of Columbia.

“Supporting education must be a priority – even the strongest teachers and school leaders cannot adequately serve each child while operating on a shoestring,” Poston said.

In addition to overall investment in public education, the Public School Forum also spotlighted the importance of investing in early childhood education and improving access to high-quality expanded learning opportunities. The other issues in this year’s Top Ten deal with major structural and systemic issues that shape the context within which students are educated: school choice, racial equity, academic standards, the evaluation of school performance and A-F grades, and the state’s approach to supporting struggling schools.

“Of course we need a competitive tax structure and a regulatory climate that attracts jobs and investments,” Poston said. “But all the tax cuts and regulatory relief in the world will be meaningless if we don’t invest in our schools that underpin healthy, vibrant communities and create the kind of well-educated, skilled workforce that has been drawing investment to our state for decades.”

Public School Forum of North Carolina’s Top 10 Education Issues for 2016

  1. Direct Adequate Resources to Public Schools, Teachers, and Leaders
  2. Transform the Profession to Make NC a Teaching Destination Again
  3. Emphasize Quality, not Quantity, in Charter School Growth
  4. Elevate Race as a Focal Point of Public Education
  5. Fix the Broken A-F Grading System
  6. Support the State’s Struggling Schools
  7. Maintain High Standards for North Carolina
  8. Make Evidence-Based Decisions on Expansion of Private-School Vouchers
  9. Expand Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education
  10. Build Bridges for Students through Expanded Learning
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