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My colleagues and I tweeted up a storm last night during Governor Pat McCrory’s first State of the State Address.  For those of you who do not follow me on Twitter (@TerryStoops), I’ll review the major education arguments and proposals outlined by the governor last night.

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According to article 3, section 5.2 of the North Carolina Constitution, "The Governor shall from time to time give the General Assembly information of the affairs of the State and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall deem expedient."  Last night, Governor Pat McCrory deemed it expedient to outline his vision for North Carolina.

In his first State of the State Address, McCrory highlighted three broad themes — jobs, education, and efficiency in government.  Within these three areas, the governor discussed a wide range of issues, including energy exploration, substance abuse, mental health, criminal justice, educational technology, exporting good and services, drug treatment courts, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, tax reform, the military community, etc.  His remarks about education centered on four issues — career and technical education, the Education Cabinet, educational technology, and brand development.

Governor McCrory argued that there is a disconnect between employers and graduates of North Carolina’s educational institutions.  Businesses have positions that they are unable to fill because the high school and college graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to be serviceable, let alone successful, employees.  This was one reason why he proposed dual tracks — one for vocational education and another for university-bound students.  Based on this idea, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 14: Increase Access to Career and Technical Education, a bill that requires state education leaders to design career and technical endorsements for high school diplomas.  McCrory signed the bill on Monday morning. 

Not to boast (excessively), but for the last several years the John Locke Foundation has been a strong advocate for career and technical education.  In 2008, we published a lengthy Spotlight report, "Career and Technical Education: Meeting the needs of the 21st century economy isn’t rocket science."  We have highlighted vocational programs a number of times on our Locker Room blog (see this and that) and in Carolina Journal (see that and this).  Obviously, we are pleased to see the legislature and the governor begin to implement this much-needed reform.

Governor McCrory’s proposal to revive the Education Cabinet is also welcome news.  The Education Cabinet is not a bookshelf.  According to NC General Statute 116c, it is a nonvoting body of high-ranking government officials who meet to coordinate educational services from the pre-kindergarten to the university levels; improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and develop ways to strengthen North Carolina’s educational institutions generally.

The Education Cabinet is located administratively within the Office of the Governor, and the governor serves as chair.  Other members include the President of The University of North Carolina, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Chairman of the State Board of Education, the President of the North Carolina Community Colleges System, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the President of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, and "other representatives of education to participate in its deliberations as adjunct members."

You may hate the lottery (like we do), but you should love McCrory’s idea to provide school districts more flexibility in how they use lottery funds.  This includes a proposal to allow districts to use lottery funds deposited into the Public School Building Capital Fund for educational technology, which districts generally cannot do.  His idea to decrease the amount that the North Carolina State Lottery Commission may use for advertising and administration will be met with resistance from those who insist that reducing operating expenditures will lead to sizable decreases in lottery revenue.

Finally, McCrory called upon universities and community colleges to join his effort to sell the North Carolina "brand" to potential employers, as well as foreign and domestic business partners.  I suspect that initial meetings of the Education Cabinet will focus on this issue.

So, what’s next?  I think McCrory’s message is pretty straightforward — there’s a lot of work to do; let’s get to it.

Facts and Stats

The News and Observer reported that McCrory "entered through the 11-foot golden doors into the House chamber."  Get it?  Kings enter through large golden doors! 

From Homer, Odyssey 7.87: "Golden doors closed the palace in [the palace of Alcinous King of the Phaiakians], and silver posts rose above the threshold; the lintel was of silver, the door-handle was of gold. Each side of the door were gold and silver watchdogs, deathless for ever and unageing, which Hephaistos with his wit and cunning had fashioned as guardians for the great house."

Obviously, Pat McCrory = Alcinous, King of the Phaiakians

Education Acronym of the Week

CTE — Career and Technical Education

Quote of the Week

"We cannot live off of a brand that needs updating and major revamping to not only compete with our neighbors but compete with the rest of the world." — Governor Pat McCrory, State of the State Address, February 18, 2013

Click here for the Education Update archive.