He made many big pledges, including fulfillment of lawmakers’ promise to raise base teacher pay to $35,000 and an end to unnecessary testing in state schools.
“We need to give them the gift of time and allow them to start teaching again, but testing less,” he said.
The call for less testing received a standing ovation, and he followed it by saying plans are in the works to figure out what tests improve student results and which ones “simply waste the time of both teachers and students.”
He said he wants unnecessary testing gone by next year. This follows on recommendations by State Board of Education task forces, which are recommending the elimination of end-of-grade testing.
Another pillar of his education speech was the idea that becoming a teacher must be easier for professionals who already have requisite knowledge in the subjects they plan to teach. He said the state is moving to “expedite” that process, and he held out his education advisor Eric Guckian as an example of why it’s so important.
Guckian taught in the South Bronx for two years with Teach for America and has a master’s in education from Harvard, but when he came to North Carolina, he had to take 18 months of courses to receive a teaching certification, McCrory said.
“And this is while schools are saying we need talent now more than ever,” he said.
The governor also talked about the need to commercialize university research and turn out more products from higher-education thinkers.
“We can not have these reports and studies up on a shelf. We have to convert them into jobs,” he said.
The governor noted during his speech that North Carolina’s most recent graduation rate was its best ever (83.9 percent).
He also called out James Ford, North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year and McCrory’s Teacher Advisory Committee Leader, for special attention. Recently, McCrory noted, Ford was named by Charlotte Magazine the person of the year.
“Now that’s the respect that teachers need in North Carolina,” he said.
Ford is a teacher at Garinger High School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System.
Other points McCrory touched upon:
- Bringing wi-fi to classrooms and digital learning to students
- The need to close the “skills gap.” McCrory said that he is still hearing from employers that they can’t find qualified workers.
- The need to make sure universities and community colleges are investing in the right places to achieve that goal, something he says they are starting to do.