The Intersection

The Rise of an Education Governor

June 16, 2015

What does it mean to be called an “education governor?”

Recently, Gov. Jim Hunt and former First Lady Carolyn Hunt received the 2015 Public School Forum of North Carolina Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award for their efforts and passion to achieve educational excellence for all children in North Carolina. In honor of the Hunts, Dr. Trip Stallings, director of policy research at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University, shares the journey of how Gov. Hunt became known as the “Education Governor” in EducationNC’s post, Jim Hunt: The Rise of an Education Governor. Dr. Trip first explains that“the term education governor entered common usage only relatively recently, most likely as a direct descendent of President Johnson’s self-anointment as the ‘education president,’ a claim he made based on passage of his Great Society school programs. The concept behind the label, however, as well as its frequent association with the South, are not inventions of the modern era. Gubernatorial leadership in education reform has long been closely associated with the South, perhaps to a degree unparalleled in other regions of the country.”

Then, Trip discusses what education reform was like under Gov. Hunt’s leadership and how it “took a decidedly different path than had education reform in other Southern states. For one thing, Hunt remained at the helm of education reform efforts in the state for a considerably longer time than did his Southern gubernatorial colleagues, working as an elected official on education reform from 1973 through 1985, and again from 1993 through 2001. For another, while North Carolina did pass two omnibus education reform packages (one in 1985, shortly after the end of Hunt’s first two terms, and another in 1997, during Hunt’s third term), these bills were not the only significant reform packages adopted by the state but were instead part of a larger progression of education reforms big and small that had been evolving since Hunt’s term as Lieutenant Governor in the 1970s. Thus, Hunt’s education reform leadership was part of a much larger and slower-developing leadership cycle than was the case for most of the other members of his cohort of education governors.”

To continue reading EducationNC’s article, visit their webpage here.

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