Editorial: NC House scheme to overhaul Board of Education misses the mark

State Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis

In case you missed it, be sure to check out yesterday’s lead Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com. As is rightfully detailed in “Legislature grasps at a solution in search of a problem,” a last-minute House Republican plan advanced last week to dramatically overhaul the selection process for the state’s Board of Education by making it much more explicitly partisan is a lousy and half-baked idea.

If we’re going to seriously address the many challenges facing the state’s public schools, the editorial notes, lawmakers can do much better than suddenly unveiling a constitutional amendment to alter an 80-year-old system for selecting Board of Education members.

Since the current governor is a Democrat, the current majority of the state board’s membership is Democratic with the administration of state Department of Public Instruction led by a Republican elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction. In the past, during the administrations of Gov. Jim Holshouser in the 1970s and Gov. Jim Martin in the late 1980s, Republican governors’ appointees made up the majority of the state education board while the General Assembly was controlled by Democrats.

North Carolina’s public education system, and how it is led, is certainly worthy of examination and maybe even significant change. But what needs to change and how it should be done is something that deserves an open and deliberative process. Amending the state Constitution and altering the way public education is administered by the state should not be the result of a slap-dash solution concocted in secret and forced onto the ballot in the closing moments of a legislative session.

And, after noting how the General Assembly has long ignored its duty to adequately fund public education so that every child can enjoy their constitutional right to a sound basic education, the editorial concludes this way:

What the legislature needs to do, if it truly wants to examine public education in the state, is to be deliberative about it. Take lessons from the past (Smart Start is a good example). Bring together legislators, state and local school board members, educators, parents and maybe even some students. Engage experts to examine critical areas of concern and interest. Outline areas and problems to be examined along with objectives to be resolved. Engage the public through conducting open meetings and reaching out for citizen input through public hearings held around the state.

The difference here is that one approach involves first recognizing problems and then taking a deliberative process to arrive at solutions.

It is a stark contrast to the current unproductive system of declaring solutions and then searching for problems.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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Editorial: NC House scheme to overhaul Board of Education misses the mark