Lt. Gov.-Elect Dan Forest has just gone to the top of my list of newly elected state officials to watch. I have a feeling Forest is going to shake up Big Education in this state. From Carolina Journal’s Dan Way:

As lieutenant governor, he will sit on the State Board of Education, which sets policy for K-12 education throughout the state, and chair the 30-member eLearning Commission, which explores ways to connect students to online learning opportunities.

“There haven’t been any formal discussions” about virtual education with Gov.-elect Pat McCrory, said Forest, who, like McCrory, is a Republican. McCrory will be sworn in Jan. 5, and Forest will begin presiding over the Senate on Jan. 9, after which he expects discussions to get more detailed.

As it stands, virtual charter schools are mired in litigation. Last year, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison unilaterally decided the state would not accept applications for virtual charter schools until more study could be done, policies created, and funding found. The case involved NC Learns, a proposed nonprofit digital learning school in Cabarrus County. 

An administrative law judge sided with the Cabarrus County school district plaintiffs against Harrison. But Wake County Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones overturned the administrative law judge’s decision and sided with Harrison, saying Harrison’s action could be considered a board decision. That ruling is now on appeal. 

“We need to break some monopolies that have been held by the teachers unions and the state school board in terms of calling all the shots, and allowing parents to have more say” in their children’s educational choices, Forest said.