Our state is home to an exceptional system of community colleges, illustrious state universities and some of the most prestigious private institutions in the world.
However, despite our world-renowned system of higher education, North Carolina is crippled by one of the worst youth unemployment rates in the country. In light of this, students and educators ought not disparage Gov. Pat McCrory for his emphasis on aligning education with employment.
Through various engagements since taking office, McCrory has proven that he will adjust the high school curriculum to prepare students for various career pathways, emphasize the acquisition of skills necessary for today’s job market, ensure the distribution of successful strategies and limited resources, and enhance the role of technology in contemporary education.
First, McCrory is working to emphasize both vocational and four-year educations, to refocus the high school curriculum in consideration of the current job market and to reduce the amount of time and money spent on remedial education.
After enacting Senate Bill 14, McCrory essentially equated two distinct educational pathways: one that prepares students for four-year college degree and one that trains students for vocational occupations. In order to reduce the state unemployment rate, it is important to stop perpetuating the myth that four-year universities are the sole avenue for entrance into the work force, for vocational education is equally essential to our economy.
SB14 instructs the State Board of Education to affix three endorsements to high school diplomas – college, career and college and career – that will incite students to obtain necessary career skills and thereby reduce the need for remedial education.
The majority of taxpayer dollars allocated to community colleges and state universities go to remediation courses that could potentially become unnecessary through McCrory’s proposals. As a result, the amount of money saved could be used to advance higher education rather than to forward the instruction of skills that should have been learned in high school.
Second, our governor has been working to ensure that every student who invests in a higher education will attain employment as well as the skills necessary for his or her future career. Furthermore, he has sought to establish a partnership among businesses, research institutions and colleges in order to align education with the future job market.
Our administration has been working with state, education and industry leaders to implement and cultivate performance-based initiatives for community colleges and universities in order to improve accountability, program fulfillment and student accomplishment.
Moreover, McCrory has promised to work with community colleges to provide career advising and opportunities to students not planning to enroll in four-year colleges, especially at those in schools with low graduation rates.
Third, the governor plans to integrate resources equally across institutions and to enhance the use of technology to improve education access and drive down costs. Within the past few years, the N.C. Education Cabinet, which is vital for coordinating education advancement in our state, has been underused. McCrory plans to reinstate the cabinet and lead future meetings to implement a strategic plan and process to share strategies and resources, including teachers and technology, across the state.
In order to ensure the most efficient use of our state’s investment in education, McCrory will enhance the use of technology and thereby grant college curricula to mid-career professionals and others who are unable to physically attend collegiate institutions.
In an effort to increase access to technology, the governor is advocating reallocating money from education lottery ads to technological expenditures. He wants schools to have more flexibility in spending lottery money.
It’s important that college students and educators have faith in our governor. Though he might have made controversial comments, McCrory has proven, either through his actions or his planned proposals, that he wants to see us succeed not only in our pursuit of higher education but in our futures as well.
Mousa Alshanteer is a freshman and Doris Stroupe Slane Trinity Scholar at Duke University. Reach him at email@example.com.