by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In next week’s newsletter, I’ll provide a more thorough overview of Walter Dalton’s new education plan, “Great Jobs Grow from Great Schools: Walter Dalton’s Education Plan: Building Momentum for a Better, Brighter and Stronger North Carolina.”
Here are a few initial thoughts:
Dalton’s idea to give every newborn a library card would have been a great idea in, say, 1970 when the primary sources of reading materials were public schools, public libraries, and perhaps a set of Encyclopedia Britannica at home . But when these newborns begin to read in four or five years, they will be going online to retrieve a great deal of their reading materials. Interestingly, one of the goals of his education plan is to transition to “digital learning statewide for all students, so they eventually each have a digital, networked device.” If every student has a “digital, networked device,” why would they need to go to a library?
In 2007, I wrote a report titled, “Why UNC Needs Charter Schools: Charter Demonstration Schools Can Improve Teacher Education.” Dalton adopts the idea. He says, “One of the greatest disappointments is that North Carolina’s schools of education didn’t try to charter schools in order to conduct clinical practices to determine best practices that could then be used to improve our traditional public schools.” Shazam!
Speaking of charter schools, Dalton doesn’t care for them. He clearly wants them capped and/or heavily regulated. Ironically, Dalton’s home county, Rutherford, has one of the best charter schools in the state – Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. Anyway, a Governor Dalton would “require a widespread review so we know what’s working (and not working) in charter schools, so we can highlight their best practices and put them to work in our public schools as well.” First, charter schools are public schools. Second, traditional public schools do not care about best practices in charter schools and wouldn’t adopt them if they did.
Bizarre line alert: “My opponent thinks we can fix education in our state by lowering our expectations and lowering our children’s expectations.” What?
Dalton is an advocate of the state’s 529 College Savings Plan. Does he know that families use these funds for (gasp!) private college and university tuition? And how about a 529-type plan for families with children in the pre-K – 12 system?