June 1, 2023

RALEIGH – The John Locke Foundation is proud to announce the launch of “Carolinas Academic Leadership Network” (CALN), a collaborative initiative between Locke, the Palmetto Promise Institute, and the South Carolina Policy Council. CALN aims to provide fellowship, training, and support to local school board members in North and South Carolina. CALN’s goal is to foster a commitment to student achievement, parental empowerment, and academic excellence among school board members and prepare them with the tools and skills to be effective, improving student achievement in their districts. 

The challenges school board members face have become even more significant considering the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents’ frustration is tangible, and their desire to be actively engaged in their children’s education is commendable. Some of these concerned parents have themselves become school board members, leading to a wave of 2022 candidates who campaigned on parental rights, academic achievement, and transparency. 

“We established CALN to support new and existing board members who are rising to meet these challenges,” said John Locke Foundation CEO Amy Cooke. “School board members are knowledgeable and passionate about education. However, we’ve heard from members looking for professional development in areas like management, budgeting, communications, and leadership. CALN will provide opportunities to help both incoming and veteran board members so they can focus on student achievement and excellence in education.”

Image of CALN Logo: a lighthouse over the outlines of North and South Carolina. The lighthouse is shining into a cloud that reads "Carolinas Academic Leadership Network"

CALN is our response to growing demand from school board members expressing a desire to cultivate their leadership abilities and concentrate on education without the outside agendas that have co-opted so many educational institutions.   

In June, CALN will host a kickoff event with various speakers, including North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, South Carolina Congressman Ralph Norman, and Former United States Secretary of Education Mitchell “Mick” Zais. In September, CALN will host a training event on communications (including crisis communications), parliamentary procedure, and Roberts Rules of Order. 

In the future, CALN plans to expand its offerings to include communications and media expertise, legal resources, comprehensive professional development training, and in-depth policy. 

The day-to-day operations of CALN will be overseen by Kelly Mann, the program’s Director of External Affairs. “We invite all school board members in North and South Carolina to join us in this exciting initiative,” Mann stated. “Together, we can improve schools across the Carolinas while keeping students at the center.”