At the NC Chamber, education & talent supply comprise the first of our four “Pillars of a Secure Future,” the key issue areas we encourage state leaders to focus on as part of the business community’s long-term growth management strategy for our state, North Carolina Vision 2030. In 2015, we fought to help secure a number of measures aimed at making sure North Carolina keeps growing top talent in our schools. A pay raise included in the budget that will ensure first-year teachers earn the national average of $35,000 and a $750 bonus for all teachers showed North Carolina is willing to invest in teachers to retain the best and brightest, while a $20-million investment expanding early-grade reading programs and a $53.8-million investment to connect all schools with high-speed internet access will help broaden opportunities for students throughout North Carolina to excel.
But the Chamber’s biggest involvement on the education front last year came outside the General Assembly, as our Hire Standards, NC coalition led the business and education communities’ response to the Academic Standards Review Commission. North Carolina’s high academic standards play a key role in giving students the skills they will need to thrive in the modern economy. Thanks in part to encouragement from pro-growth groups like Hire Standards, NC, the commission’s final report opted to keep our current high standards as the baseline for future study. Following input from a wide range of business and education leaders, the commission rejected a draft proposal to replace our math standards with a set of standards from another state.
In 2016, the NC Chamber will remain engaged to help ensure our students continue to have access to premier education opportunities that prepare them to thrive in the modern workforce. Important issues could include:
- Standards – The academic standards review process now shifts to the State Board of Education, which will likely take several months to complete their work. Board members are expected to outline a plan for review at their February meeting.
- Testing – Parents and teachers alike are concerned over the state of standardized testing in North Carolina, and recent federal legislation might cause the issue to grow in importance.
- Strengthening Talent Pipeline – The legislature must continue to support policies that give students the information, course options and extracurricular opportunities they need to become career and college ready. This could include strengthening career pathways and encouraging more participation in higher education coursework.
We will keep you updated throughout 2016 as we work to support these and other key priorities on the education and workforce development front.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber