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Mystery meeting on reforming N.C.’s education system (with update)

The N.C. House Select Committee on Education Reform will meet at 1 p.m. this afternoon, moving their meeting away from the N.C. General Assembly building to the campus of Wake Technical Community College.

But just what they’ll be talking about is still a bit of a mystery this morning, just a few hours before the meeting is scheduled to begin.

No agendas have been released to the public, according to the office of N.C. Rep. Hugh Blackwell, the co-chair of the House committee.

Update: Since we put up this post at 10:30 a.m. this morning, the agenda to the meeting has been posted. Click here to see for yourself.  A hat tip to Terry Stoops at the conservative John Locke Foundation for pointing out that the agenda items were released a couple of hours before the public meeting. 

On the agenda are discussion about a deaf student’s Bill of Rights, a Florida Advanced Placement initiative, articulation issues in higher education, school air quality improvements and higher education tuition comparisons.

And that means no clues to the public about what this group of legislators will be discussing, and who they’ll be hearing from.

At their last meeting in February, the select committee heard about a Florida literacy program for elementary-aged children, digital learning programs at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and an update on DPI’s data system, according to the committee’s February agenda.

Unlike the vast majority of public bodies, the state legislature doesn’t have to follow the 48-hours advance posting of agendas required in the N.C. Open Meetings Law. Of course, there’s nothing to stop legislative committee heads form posting their agendas ahead of time, and many do.

Education reform, like most policy topics these days, has turned into a heated partisan issue. Proponents of public education reform are vocally calling for more innovative systems of education (charter schools, virtual schools, etc.) to maximize the dollars that taxpayers spend to educate children, and to better educate kids. On the more critical side of the debate are those that worry that the push for education reform is actually a push for profits from the private sector, that would diminish the quality of education as both state and local public education moves to privatization.

N.C. House Majority Leader Paul Stam, one of the Education Reform Committee members and a GOP legislature with quite a bit of sway at the legislature, has made no secrets about his desire to see more private vendors, charters and vouchers for parents that elect to educate their children outside of the state’s public education system.

N.C.  House Speaker Thom Tillis made reference to Stam’s outspoken comments about privatizing education at a February Town Hall Tillis held in Asheboro.

Nothing tends to pique my interest more than a mysterious public meeting, so I’ll be at this afternoon’s  meeting and will be live tweeting under @SarahOvaska.

And for those wishing to go, the meeting is at 1 p.m. at the Public Safety Building at Wake Tech, 321 Chapanoke Road in Raleigh.

I’ll also keep my ears open to see if any of the education reform committee makes mention of a recent New York Times story that highlighted Wake Tech’s shortage of nursing classes in talking about the negative effects state education budget cuts are having on industries in need of trained workers.

I’ll let you know (via Twitter) if they do.

3 Comments


  1. […] some have raised concerns about the failure of committee chairs to release an agenda in a timely […]

  2. Terry Stoops

    March 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks for the hat tip, Sarah.

    And, just for the record, I agree that agendas should be released well in advance of committee meetings, particularly when it is an off-site event. Sometimes, transparency and courtesy go hand in hand.

  3. M Hooper

    March 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Terry: Courtesy? From this bunch? Surely you jest.

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