Governor’s education adviser talks about future of education

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — Local officials had a chance to pick the brain of Gov. Pat McCrory’s senior education adviser Monday afternoon. Catherine Truitt, who was appointed in October 2015, paid a visit to Rowan-Salisbury Schools after an invitation from Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody to discuss the challenges facing the future of public education.

“We are at a crossroads in public education,” Truitt said during Monday’s luncheon and discussion.

Truitt walked audience members through the creation of the public education system more than 120 years ago and its current state today. In all that time, she said, it’s barely changed.

“We basically have that same system of education,” she said.

The current system of education no longer properly prepares children for the workforce, Truitt said, as current job markets now require some sort of post-secondary education. According to Truitt, only 35 percent of jobs will accept applicants who have just a high school diploma or equivalent — and it’s a piece of paper that’s rapidly losing its value.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” she said, “It’s not a credential of marketplace value.”

By 2025, researchers estimate that 65 percent of workers in North Carolina will need some kind of certification or post secondary education, or else the state will have a worker shortage, Truitt said.

And in schools nationwide, the current system also assumes that every child is on grade level when they enter a new school year.

“It assumes that there is an average child,” she said, “and there is no average child.”

But according to Truitt, the United States hasn’t made any systemic changes to its education system in years.

In her presentation, Truitt also touched on teacher pay and shortages, and the need for teachers to have some kind of promotional opportunity. Current research shows that 81 percent of new teachers in North Carolina leave after their first year, and 46 percent leave afterwards, Truitt said.

Over the next few years, she said, the state will begin a move towards creating promotional opportunities for teachers, strengthening and redesigning teacher preparatory programs and using technology to personalize learning.

“It has to look different than it does,” she said.

Those attending the luncheon and presentation — including elected officials, leaders from local colleges and Rowan-Salisbury Schools central office personnel — asked questions about charter schools, returning local control to school systems, how trauma affects children, truancy and the goal of the Governor’s Education Cabinet.

Moody said that she felt the presentation accomplished a goal of providing more information to the community and opening a dialogue. If change is going to happen in education, she said, it would take everyone.

“It’s going to require everyone working together as a community and as a state to help transform education,” she said, “Everyone has a role to play.”

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.