Editorial: Watching education improvements

Jan. 14, 2013 @ 04:30 PM

Pomp and pageantry are out of the way. So is the across the state photo-ops that came with his first week in office.

Gov. Pat McCrory wanted to send a message that he was getting to work early. We’re just as anxious to see what he can do with the state’s lengthy list of concerns.

Education is among the areas in which we expect the quickest gains, or tangible measures of change. Time must pass for his impact on unemployment and poverty to be seen, tax reform is a Jones Street battle of weeks and not days, and his transparency and ethics will be measured each day until he leaves office.

In his speech at Saturday’s inauguration ceremonies, McCrory said education technology for students needed expansion. He wants curricula to meet the needs of companies.

Granted, curricula of schools in various regional pockets of the state will be vastly different, and thus attaining a statewide standard seems far-fetched. But we remember McCrory’s campaign more than this past weekend’s words.

He said our public schools should be centers of excellence. He envisions that happening by giving students and parents educational choices, setting high expectations, rewarding successful educators and holding schools accountable.

Within the expectations and accountability plans, McCrory wants to see third-graders make the full swing from learning to read to reading to learn. He doesn’t want free passes for them to fourth grade, and we don’t either.

He also wants less remedial reading and math needs at community colleges and four-year colleges. We think high school graduates should be better prepared as well.

And McCrory wants schools measured on how students do with reading and math skills rather than curriculum. He wants the bar moving based on both proficiency and gains.

When we cut to the chase on these points, the free passes are failing students. Benefit of the doubt decisions by educators can be positive, but in life, there are eventually bottom-line decisions to be faced.

Prepare our students. That high schools have graduated students who couldn’t read well enough to do a job application, or have enough math skills to count change in a money transaction, underscores failure by the schools and those who run them.

Education improvements are wanted from the McCrory administration. Children shouldn’t fail because we failed them first.