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Blessed by Cooper, Berger, and Moore, bipartisan Hunt-Lee Commission gets underway

Today, The Hunt Institute launched the Hunt-Lee Commission, “which will identify and apply high-impact strategies for strengthening systems across the education continuum in North Carolina,” according to the press release.

North Carolina’s “education governor,” Gov. Jim Hunt, is the chair emeritus.

Howard Lee, a Democrat, and Sen. Michael Lee, a Republican, are the chairs.

It’s been blessed by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.

It includes local and state leaders in education, business, and philanthropy.

They will meet four times during the school year and release a final report with recommendations in spring 2022.

“The commission’s goal is to reach consensus on topics and actionable policy levers that could move the needle on education in North Carolina.”

According to the chairs, the work of the commission will “envision education for the future” and set the stage for generations to come.

Howard Lee said, “it turns out The Hunt Institute is the organization that rises above a lot of the single interests that people have — especially partisanism — and allows us to think more broadly.” He wants to see how all the interests and priorities “mash together.”

“What you end up having,” said Michael Lee, “is the education continuum in one room.”

Javaid Siddiqi, the president and CEO of The Hunt Institute, said the commission will “break down agency and political silos.”

Back in February 2018, Jeremy Anderson, president of Education Commission of the States, said relative to other states where education policy is moving by “leaps and bounds,” leaders across North Carolina need to build relationships that allow them to work across difference. He noted the need for “an umbrella” to “unify these kind of things and make it work.”

Howard Lee said today at the launch of the Hunt-Lee Commission, “We’ve got this under one umbrella,” adding later, “the response from all segments has been really exciting to see what can be done through this process.”

The press release

The Hunt Institute is pleased to announce the creation of the Hunt-Lee Commission, which will identify and apply high-impact strategies for strengthening systems across the education continuum in North Carolina. The group will meet for the first time on Monday, August 30, at Central Piedmont Community College’s Harris Conference Center in Charlotte, NC. 

“The Hunt Institute is proud to convene leaders from across the field of education, as well as representatives from the business and philanthropic communities,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, president & CEO of The Hunt Institute. “The Hunt-Lee Commission provides an exciting opportunity to take a close look at long-standing challenges in the education space and identify innovative solutions.”

Named after four-term North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. and Institute Board Members Senator Howard Lee and Senator Michael Lee, the commission will convene leaders from across North Carolina over the next year. The commission’s goal is to reach consensus on topics and actionable policy levers that could move the needle on education in North Carolina.

“North Carolina has long been a leader in advancing public education,” said Governor Jim Hunt. “It is exciting to be working with this dynamic bipartisan group, with whom I have every confidence will identify actionable steps that can be taken to further strengthen the state’s public education system.”

Over the course of the next year, the commission will meet four times to study and make recommendations on four key education topics: access, alignment, funding, and transitions and completion. Commission members will hear from state and national experts as they work to establish a set of recommendations spanning policy and practice.

“Leaders, advocates, and agencies are doing great work across the state to strengthen our education system, but we continue to see differences in student outcomes,” said commission co-chairs Senator Michael Lee and Senator Howard Lee. “This commission provides an opportunity to align all of these efforts to ensure we are best serving the students of North Carolina.”

The Commission’s work perfectly aligns with The Hunt Institute’s mission to empower educators and policymakers to transform public education.  

“I’m grateful that The Hunt Institute is convening this commission to bring together national best practices and efforts underway in North Carolina to build stronger education systems in our state,” said Governor Roy Cooper.

The commission will release a final report and recommendations in spring of 2022, with the hope of informing policy and practice across early childhood, K-12, and higher education. The commission includes bipartisan representation from the legislature, as well as state agencies and systems. 

NC Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger said, “It is exciting to see this group come together to identify opportunities to improve student experiences and outcomes in North Carolina.”

“I look forward to reviewing the recommendations this group develops to strengthen education systems in our state,” said NC Speaker of the House Tim Moore.

Members of the Hunt-Lee Commission

  • Governor James B. Hunt, Jr.; Chair Emeritus, Hunt-Lee Commission
  • Howard Lee, Former State Senator, North Carolina General Assembly; Co-Chair, Hunt-Lee Commission
  • Michael Lee, Senate District 9, North Carolina General Assembly; Co-Chair, Hunt-Lee Commission
  • Gris Bailey, President & CEO, Latin American Chamber of Commerce
  • Deanna Ballard, Senate District 45, North Carolina General Assembly
  • Patricia Beier, Executive Director, Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency, Inc.
  • MC Belk Pilon, President and Board Chair, John M. Belk Endowment
  • Alisha Byrd-Clark, Vice Chairwoman, Rowan-Salisbury School Board
  • Ashton Clemmons, House District 57, North Carolina General Assembly
  • Kisha Clemons, 2020 North Carolina Principal of the Year, Newton-Conover City Schools
  • Gerry Cobb, Director, Pritzker Children’s Initiative, JB & MK Pritzker Family Foundation
  • Geoff Coltrane, Senior Education Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Roy Cooper
  • Amy Cubbage, President, North Carolina Partnership for Children
  • Eric Davis, Chair, North Carolina State Board of Education
  • Don Davis, Senate District 5, North Carolina General Assembly
  • Jeffrey Elmore, House District 94, North Carolina General Assembly
  • Dr. Charles Foust, Superintendent, New Hanover County Schools
  • Dr. Anthony Graham, Provost, Winston-Salem State University
  • Mo Green, Executive Director, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
  • Dr. Ferrel Guillory, Professor of the Practice Emeritus, UNC Chapel Hill
  • Peter Hans, President, The UNC System
  • Jon Hardister, House District 59, North Carolina General Assembly
  • John Herrera, Senior Vice President of Latino-Hispanic Affairs, Self-Help Credit Union
  • Dr. Sam Houston, President & CEO, NC STEM Center
  • Dr. Judith Kelley, Dean, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
  • Dr. Laura Leatherwood, President, Blue Ridge Community College
  • Dr. Leslie Locklear, Program Coordinator, UNC Pembroke
  • Susan Perry, Chief Deputy Secretary, NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • Mark Robinson, Lieutenant Governor, North Carolina
  • Gary Salamido, President & CEO, NC Chamber of Commerce
  • Thomas Stith, President, North Carolina Community College System
  • Maureen Stover, 2020 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Cumberland County Schools
  • Elaine Townsend Utin, Executive Director, LatinxEd
  • Catherine Truitt, Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina
  • Brent Williams, 2021 North Carolina Superintendent of the Year, Lenoir County Schools
  • Dr. Hope Williams, President, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities

Editor’s Note: Ferrel Guillory, the vice chair of EducationNC, is serving on the commission.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.