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House committee on the future of education hears from Carteret County

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  • A House committee considering the future of education went to Carteret County recently in what is the last in a string of public hearings lawmakers took on the road.
  • "The truth is every single child in our great state is worthy of being served by the very best school system we can offer," said @Dr_Rob_Jackson at an #ncga committee meeting on the future of #nced recently.

The House Select Committee on an Education System for North Carolina’s Future went to Carteret County last week to hear from local education leaders as well as members of the public. It was the last in a string of visits members of the committee attended around the state.

Senior Chair Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, said it won’t be the last meeting outside of Raleigh, but the next scheduled meeting of the committee is back at the General Assembly.

Rob Jackson, superintendent of Carteret County Public Schools, spoke to lawmakers about his district and how it is partnering with the local community college and health care system to help county residents and students.

But he started by telling committee members that he had listened to all of their previous county visits and heard every local superintendent say that their school system was the best in North Carolina. Jackson echoed those sentiments, saying that Carteret County public schools were the best in the state.

“You would hear it 115 times if you visited 115 school systems, because the truth is every single child in our great state is worthy of being served by the very best school system we can offer,” he said.

He went on to talk about his schools in more detail, pointing out that every single school in his district met or exceeded growth last year, though he admitted schools’ proficiency scores weren’t where he wanted them to be.

The state’s school performance grades emphasize proficiency over growth. Proficiency makes up 80% of the scores and growth 20%. However, school performance grades haven’t been released since 2019 because of COVID-19.

Jackson said he preferred the measure of growth because it shows how well students are being taught in his schools. If a student learns what they’re supposed to in a year, they’ve met growth. And if they learn more than what they’re supposed to in a year, they exceed growth.

“What I see here is continuous improvement, and that’s what we seek,” he said of his district’s schools.

Slide from committee presentation.

Harvey Case, CEO of Carteret Health Care, spoke to lawmakers as well, telling them that he, Jackson, and Tracy Mancini — president of Carteret Community College — had all started their jobs about two years ago during the pandemic and had worked closely together since that time.

He talked about a series of programs for students designed to demonstrate the kinds of options they have in their county for work.

“We want our own youth here to know that they have opportunities to make good choices about whether they want to stay here and find a job in our community or elsewhere,” he said.

Mancini told lawmakers about a number of partnerships with Carteret Community College and the public school system, including a scholarship program.

It started when she and Case were telling Jackson about scholarship opportunities in the health care field.

“The way we talked about it was we need to grow our own nurses and grow our own health care workers here in the county so that students who graduate from our wonderful high schools and then go off to get credentials to work in health care don’t go away from Carteret County,” she said.

Jackson took that idea and expanded it to include teacher preparation. Seniors who get a scholarship can go to Carteret Community College and get an associate degree in teacher preparation.

“We’re really proud of that program and delighted to be partners in making that happen,” Mancini said.

Committee members also heard from the public. While the focus of the committee is supposed to be on what the future of education should look like, many of the remarks related to education issues currently being debated in the court of public opinion.

You can hear the public comments starting at about the one hour and 41 minute mark in the video livestream below recorded by Carteret County Public Schools.

The committee had the option of delivering a preliminary report on what it has learned so far to the General Assembly by May 1 but opted not to, according to Torbett’s legislative assistant. Instead, the committee will deliver a report by the end of 2022, ahead of the next legislative long session in early 2023.

See the presentation from local education leaders here.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.