April 29, 2022
April 27, 2022
The Hunt-Lee Commission released 16 recommendations Monday to help improve North Carolina public schools.
Convened by The Hunt Institute, the bipartisan group — made up of legislators, administrators, state leaders, and educators from across the political spectrum — endorsed priorities which include increasing availability of child care subsidies, helping students access higher education, and enabling more access to NC Pre-K.
“It was no small feat getting this impressive group of leaders together from the public and private sectors,” said commission chair emeritus and founder of The Hunt Institute, former Gov. Jim Hunt, in a press release. “The outcomes of this commission demonstrate how, when it comes to North Carolina’s students and education system, even within our diversity of backgrounds and beliefs we can indeed find common ground that advances our work.”
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Launched in August 2021, the commission’s work has taken place during a critical time for the future of North Carolina education. As COVID-19 pandemic subsides and the education policy world takes stock of lessons learned and learning lost, key state leaders backed the commission, including House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
“There is much more to this commission than meets the eye. It’s the relationships that were built to create some of these recommendations,” said Sen. Michael Lee, adding later: “I think there’s an intangible benefit here that I would like everyone to recognize.”
Commission member Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, said that commission members focused on four broad areas: access, alignment, funding, and transitions.
He said many of the recommendations will require action from lawmakers, but others can be done by organizations and agencies without the need to change particular laws or policies.
Sen. Michael Lee brought up the example of the the Rowan-Salisbury School System, which has been granted renewal status by the General Assembly. This status allows its schools to operate with charter-like flexibility. But in the process of developing their strategy, he explained, district leaders discovered they didn’t actually need new flexibility to accomplish some of their goals — they just needed to think about how to operate differently.
State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, a member of the commission, said that the work that will result from these recommendations is going to take a “sustained commitment” of at least 10 years.
“I’m confident that these and future recommendations will lead to better education laws and policies,” he said. “They’ll lead to better support for and more educators in our schools. And most importantly, they will lead to better academic outcomes for our students.”
Former Sen. Howard Lee said that in addition to the recommendations, the work of the commission to bridge their ideological differences and find common ground can make a big difference going forward.
“I’m thinking because of the committee’s work and the environment it created through its work, many of the barriers that we would expect to pop up won’t pop up,” he said.
Here is the full list of commission members:
You can read the full report here or see it below.
Editor’s Note: Ferrel Guillory, the vice chair of EducationNC, served on the commission.
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