New House Select Committee will look at education system's future
The new committee is headed up by Rep. John Torbett (R-Gston)
A new House Select Committee met for the first time on Jan. 25 with the aim of examining the future of the state’s education system.
The 2022 NCGA House Select Committee on Education System for NC's Future has nine members:
Senior Chair Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston)
Chairs: Reps. Blackwell (R-Burke), Hurley (R-Randolph), and Wills (R-Union)
Members: Reps. Brockman (D-Guilford), Farkas (D-Pitt), Hunt (D-Mecklenburg), Shepard (R-Onslow), and Zenger (D- Forsyth).
The committee's charging document says it will be looking into issues related to elementary and secondary education. Topics can be added to the list, which currently includes examining requirements and outcomes of the standard course of study, student demonstration of competency at their own pace, as well as funding and outcomes of current programs. Specifically mentioned was a look at funding and outcomes related to non-profits engaged in work with the state.
Torbett said during the meeting that the committee wants to hear from teachers and principals and the committee plans to travel to different areas of the state to do so.
The committee heard from North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law’s (NCICL) Jeanette Doran, who spent time going over the administrative codes dictating and often encumbering action by various entities in the state, including the State Board of Education, General Assembly, and superintendent of public instruction.
NCICL is a 501(C)2 non-profit dedicated to educating the public and policymakers on why constitutional principles are important and how to preserve them. Additionally, on the same front, the group also helps the public hold elected officials and policymakers accountable.
The group’s vision statement says it “envisions a North Carolina of individual liberty and a thriving, innovative economy, with state and local governments committed to following the state and federal constitutions.”
Doran also touched on the Leandro case and the state constitutional provisions surrounding taxation and education funding.
Blackwell suggested that the state superintendent ought to be the head of the State Board of Education and that those state board members perhaps should be elected instead of appointed by the governor.
Zenger said the state's current system has "a lot of one-size-fits-all that just doesn’t work.” At one point, he also said, “I think we need to get back to understanding that the primary purpose of education is to equip these kids to be good adults.”
Hunt, the daughter of former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt, promoted the idea of further investments in the Teaching Fellows Program, as well as work by the non-profit education group BestNC along with her father's group the Hunt-Lee Commission.
The condition of school buildings was brought up by Farkas, who also suggested reinstating teacher pay bumps for master's degrees which was dropped in 2013.
The next meeting is a 1 p.m. on Feb. 7. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt is slated to attend and present to the committee.
The committee's end date will be Dec. 31, 2022, at which time its final report will be due to the House of Representatives and Speaker Tim Moore's office.
In an interview with Tim Boynum on Capitol Tonight, Torbett cited the rising concern about education from parents across the state as well as funding issues, COVID-19 related issues, and the state superintendent’s concerns with the “back side of education.”
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