Prior to the publication of the 1983 landmark report “A Nation at Risk” that called for sweeping reforms to public education and teacher education, the word “accountability” was rarely heard in education circles. Since then, the media and political focus on public education – and the number of critics – has increased despite the great strides made in public education, which continues to experience more success than at any time in history.
It would seem that it should be enough that public schools across the state and nation are more successful than ever. They are achieving the mandate of educating the masses; however, they are no longer measured alone by the communities in which they serve. Public schools are challenged with preparing students to compete on a global stage, and the result is a deluge of information and comparisons, leaving the average citizen confounded as he or she tries to determine the local school’s success amidst a plethora of negative rhetoric.
The real success stories from public schools across North Carolina must be told or the voice of the detractors will be the only voice that is heard – and believed!
That is why it is time for public schools in North Carolina to step up in a concerted effort and tell their stories – how their teachers and schools are changing lives; how traditional public schools are enjoying great success in preparing students for the future; why public schools are foundational to the future of local communities and the state as a whole. Collectively, K-12 education leaders, personnel and supporters must urge all sectors of the public to “Support Public Schools,” and this call to action must begin a groundswell of support and respect for public education that resonates with parents, business leaders, media, and elected officials at local, state and national levels of service. Desired outcomes include:
To achieve these important goals and truly begin enhancing support and respect for public schools, the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, in collaboration with the North Carolina School Public Relations Association, has launched an initiative to improve the perception of public schools to ensure that they remain strong and viable not only for the students they serve today but also for those they will educate in the future. This will require a two-pronged effort at state and local levels to increase public support of district-led public schools to provide for the following:
“North Carolina Public Schools: Every Child’s Chance… Every Community’s Future” conveys a big message in a few words and reflects the perspective that all sectors of the public should hold of the state’s district-led schools. When paired with a graphic depiction of the sun nurturing a young plant that is growing, the imagery portrays the right perception that North Carolina public schools are open to any and all; they serve both the most profoundly disabled student and the most gifted child; and the future and well-being of communities across the state is dependent upon ongoing delivery of a free and quality public education.
A new website, www.everychildschancenc.org, has been launched as an offshoot of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators’ www.ncasa.net to host a vast array of resources – including articles, data, charts, graphs, photos and videos – that highlight the successes of North Carolina public schools and summarize the challenges they must overcome to remain viable and vibrant for providing every child a chance and e very community a future for the next generations to come.
On January 8, 1839, the N.C. General Assembly passed the first common school law establishing the principle of combined state and local funding for public schools. The law also divided the state into school districts with primary schools in each. Five to ten “superintendents” were appointed to oversee these district schools, and local boards of education were initiated. Just one year later, on January 20, 1840, the first public school in North Carolina opened in the Williamsburg Community of Rockingham County. In 2015, 175 years after the first public school in the state opened its doors, a major celebration will mark the tremendous milestone that has been reached and a course for ensuring future success in North Carolina public schools will be charted. The celebration will feature videos, including a series of famous North Carolina high school graduates from all walks of life; distribution of the executive summary of a commemorative online publication; recognition of teachers who have taught 50 years or more; as well as remarks from key supporters about North Carolina public schools’ 175 years of accomplishments. In addition, each school district will be asked to host a district activity on the same day, and each will receive a tree or seedling for planting in the spring to commemorate the 175th anniversary in communities across the state.
The Garrett Academy, now Williamsburg Elementary School, has undergone a number of significant changes over the years. Learn more about Rockingham County Schools our state’s first public school.
The celebration is only the beginning of a concerted effort by school district leaders statewide and more than 45 partnering organizations that pledge support for North Carolina public schools to work together to raise visibility of the successes being achieved daily in classrooms across the state. More importantly, a collective call for increased support of traditional public schools will begin to resonate from the mountains to the coast and lay the foundation to ensure that the state’s public schools remain vibrant to inspire, lead and achieve on an ongoing basis.
The North Carolina Association of School Administrators and the North Carolina School Public Relations Association believe that the successful rollout and completion of these initiatives are worthwhile, necessary and crucial to help urge “support for strong public schools” at a critical time in North Carolina’s history. Helping all sectors of the public value North Carolina’s public schools as “every child’s chance and every community’s future” will ensure they remain viable as a foundational component of the state and local economy beyond their current 175 years of success and that they are a resource worth celebrating.
On January 8, 1839, the N.C. General Assembly passed the first common school law establishing the principle of combined state and local funding for public schools. The law also divided the state into school districts with primary schools in each. Five to ten “superintendents” were appointed to oversee these district schools, and local boards of education were initiated. Just one year later, on January 20, 1840, the first public school in North Carolina opened in the Williamsburg Community of Rockingham County. From that storied beginning 175 years ago, North Carolina public schools have undergone continuous renovation to adapt to the ch-
anging needs of the students and to mesh with the state’s economy that has transitioned from agriculture to manufacturing to high-tech. In each phase of these ever-changing times, district-led public schools in the state have remained as the constant and reliable resource that is providing every child a chance and every community a future. Take a trip down memory lane with this interactive timeline and view the faces and successes of North Carolina’s public schools and view the video clips and other multimedia resources for a look ahead to what lies in store as these schools continue to inspire, lead and achieve for generations to come.
From their storied beginning 175 years ago in the Williamsburg Community of Rockingham County, North Carolina public schools have served a singular mission: to provide a chance for success to every child who walks through their doors and thereby provide every community with a viable future.
In their beginning, North Carolina public schools were like all schools around the nation – separate but not equal and reflecting the racial divide that needed to be bridged to ensure a brighter path for students of all races and diverse backgrounds to learn together in combined classrooms. But even those separate schools played an important role in defining North Carolina’s sense of community, as evidenced by the Rosenwald Schools, and helping the state and all its subsets overcome segregation and move forward with integration that remains an important hallmark of public education even today.
As North Carolina public schools celebrate their 175th-year milestone in 2015, time for reflection on that historic movement to ensure public schools are free and open to all students – no matter their socioeconomic status, skin color, religion, or native language – is an important tribute to the progress made in public schools and to the miles yet to go to continue improving educational services for every child.
Delve into the rich fabric of diversity that defines North Carolina public schools today, and join in the effort to celebrate and support these schools as every child’s chance and every community’s future!
In 2015 a simple Google search yields more than 150,000 hits for “America’s Schools Are Failing,” yet when you Google “America’s Schools Are Succeeding,” fewer than five entries are identified. That national snapshot of the public’s perception of traditional public schools is troubling, both in its reach and in its inaccuracy.
This flawed national perspective is also distorting the viewpoint of how well North Carolina’s traditional public schools are performing in their efforts to educate almost 1.6 million students currently enrolled.
In reality, our traditional public schools have undergone continuous renovation to meet the ever-changing needs of society. They are continuing to evolve to stay ahead ofchange and anticipate what today’s students will need as adults, since 60 percent of all jobs in the United States require education beyond high school. So they are focusing their efforts to prepare students for life after graduation, when they will encounter college, careers, citizenship and the uncharted challenges of their future.
North Carolina public schools in the 2014-2015 school year are educating 1.52 million students in 115 school districts in 2,526 traditional public schools and are projected to add roughly 9,000 more students next year.
Today North Carolina’s public schools educate almost 90 percent of the state’s school-aged students, even though a school-choice climate is thriving through the recent expansion of publicly funded charter schools and private school vouchers. A closer look at the hallmarks of district-led school success stories reveals that, while they still are in transition to meet even higher levels of achievement, the vast majority of North Carolina public schools are indeed preparing graduates who are college, career and future ready.
Even before state support for public schools began in 1840, their link to the vitality of local communities in North Carolina has been a constant. In fact, the genesis of most early schools in the state can be traced directly to community leaders’ recognition of the need for and value of an educated citizenry that in turn generated the skills and tradesmen that allowed the state’s diverse towns and cities to grow and flourish.
When most people think of schools, they think of students in a classroom; few consider and appreciate the complexity of schools and the array of services they provide to students and the community. In virtually every district, schools are the largest provider of meals to the largest number of people. In most districts, schools also run the largest transportation program, the largest counseling service and the largest recreation program in their local community.
Last, but not least, most school districts are the largest employers in their communities. In 64 of the state’s 115 school systems, public schools now rank as the largest employer in their home county; in another 24 counties, public schools rank as the second largest employer. Throughout the changing times of North Carolina’s economy, the strong link between public schools and community vitality has continued. In fact, local public schools long have been a hallmark of community identity.
Public schools in North Carolina are not only a rich part of the historic fabric that makes up communities from the mountains to the coast, they are ever-changing to help drive a vibrant future for those same cities and towns, while seeking to offer every child a chance to succeed.
The tried and true tradition of public schools in North Carolina, as well as the multitude of successes they have achieved during their 175-year history, is worthy of celebration during their major anniversary year in 2015. However, pausing to reflect on the contributions public schools have made to the state and its citizens is only a beginning step. Our public schools must be valued and supported from all sectors of the public if they are to continue to flourish and provide the excellent educational opportunities that will be needed by North Carolina’s young people of tomorrow.
That’s why it’s time for public schools in North Carolina to join together and tell their stories. Collectively, K-12 education leaders, personnel and supporters must issue an urgent and time-sensitive CALL TO ACTION TO SUPPORT PUBLIC SCHOOLS. This call to action must begin a groundswell of support and respect for public education that resonates with parents, business leaders, media, and elected officials at local, state and national levels of service.
If North Carolina public schools are to continue their trajectory of increasing success, then they, in collaboration with all who believe in their value, Must work together to accomplish the following:
No single individual or organization can reach these important goals alone. North Carolina public schools got their start 175 years ago through community support, and they need that same uplifting in every community of the state today in order to remain viable to focus on their mission of educating students and preparing them to lead in all walks of life.
Use this Every Child's Chance... Toolkit that provides a wide array of customizable resources to be used in outreach to support strong public schools; the toolkit contains talking points, sample letters to the editor, sample presentations, a guide for social media messaging, and more.