EdNC launched on January 12, and after 100 days there are many war stories to be told, but only one that matters. All the experience thus far validates the founding principle, that our debate or “conversation” about public education is and must be all about the children and what is best for them. Focusing on that truth makes everything possible.
EdNC believes that North Carolina’s conversation about public education will be easier, less controversial, more civil, and infinitely more productive if we remember in every moment of the conversation that it’s all about the children.
There is a calming power to that notion, and our public discourse about education could use some calm reflection.
Thankfully, in North Carolina, the conversation about children and education builds on a strong foundation. As a people, we have voluntarily obligated ourselves, morally and constitutionally, to give every child, regardless of their circumstances, an equal opportunity for a quality education that will prepare them fully for the future. All that remains now is to fulfill that solemn promise, and North Carolina likes to keep its promises.
Sam McClure, America’s first mass journalist, once observed that “The vitality of democracy depends on popular knowledge of complex questions.” In our time, it is harder than it should be for citizens and leaders to inform themselves about the many issues that impact our education mission. EdNC is designed to provide North Carolinians with the news and information they need to fully engage in the critical debate about public education.
Because the subject is so complex, the conversation EdNC is encouraging has many components:
- We respectfully join the grand tradition of North Carolina journalism in our attempt to cover the news accurately and fairly — what is happening, and what is not happening — to improve public education;
- In our news coverage, we focus on the three branches of state government, on local government, on the national government, on 115 school districts, on traditional and charter public schools, and on everything else that impacts public education;
- We provide factual background information and data about public school issues, both to inform and to de-mystify;
- We invite commentary from all points of view because all opinions deserve respect;
- We report on the daily miracles performed by public schools, and we report on their challenges and shortcomings;
- We report on current litigation impacting schools and provide essential court documents;
- We provide links to the best education reporting and research in other media;
- We invite and publish comments from our audience and encourage civil exchanges;
- We convene experts and others to participate in conversations about key issues; and
- We videotape selected events and meetings and archive them on the website.
EdNC doesn’t lobby or take sides in politics. Others can and should do those things to keep our democracy healthy, but our role is different.
We have the quaint notion that people of all views should find ways to do what is necessary to keep our promises to children, and we’d like to help.
We confess to a sense of urgency. Children have only one time in their lives to be educated, and that time for our children is now. There is no decent way to ask a child to wait for a quality education when waiting means permanent loss of opportunity.
At the 100-day marker, EdNC is humbly grateful for many blessings. Our generous funders breathed life into the idea because they care deeply about children, so the credit for any success goes to them. Our many contributors provide a feast of compelling writing and set a high bar for the future that we can meet only with their continuing help. Our intrepid staff created a beautiful and powerful website and files reports and columns day in and day out, in the morning and at night, and yes, even on the weekends.
Our President/CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Mebane Rash, brought to EdNC vision, energy, creativity and rock-solid judgment. She has a deep respect for all public service. My co-conspirator in the development of EdNC, Ferrel Guillory, and I, and the board of directors, are all deeply grateful for her dedication and leadership. We expect she is not sleeping enough and will talk to her about that soon.
Finally, thanks to you all for the warm reception. The audience for EdNC is growing rapidly throughout the state. Technology, I’m told, allows us to track that sort of thing. And we have exciting plans for future work that will expand our services. More on that later.
EdNC looks to the future with optimism and confidence that the people of North Carolina will keep their promises to children. We hope the news and information we provide will help.