The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday March 1st

UNC's Students for Education Reform hosts discussion on the accessibility of opportunities

Not all young children have the privilege of having parents at home who provide a solid foundation for learning, especially during the pivotal elementary school years, said Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, at a meeting Thursday night.

To discuss this issue, UNC’s Students for Education Reform hosted Brandon and State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson at a town hall style meeting, which drew a group of more than 40 UNC students.

“All teachers at some point are going to have to look at the kid who has their mom on crack and their daddy in jail — we have to know how to deal with that,” said Brandon.

The two newly re-elected representatives discussed the limited resources available for more individualized student attention and teacher development.

Students have their own stories and will need to be taught in a way that caters to that, Brandon said.

Atkinson said with the 2011 cut of the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program, the accessibility of opportunities for young graduates to teach has diminished.

The state budgeted $400 billion to help remodel education, and Atkinson said she hopes the general assembly will develop a new program similar to the Teaching Fellows.

“It’s important to be developing human capital — we have to prepare teachers for any environment,” she said.

The speakers introduced their plans for the upcoming term, such as increasing the use of technological learning tools and eliminating the one-time mandatory reading test to pass the third grade.

As for what members of the Students for Education Reform and students at UNC can do in regards to the state’s policies, Atkinson urged students to take initiative in their future careers and in influencing policies.

Brandon echoed Atkinson, telling meeting attendees that they held power to influence policy.

“Come to committees, tell them what you think and what you believe because you as a lobbyist is the most powerful thing.”

Senior Jeremy Knight, vice president of advocacy for Students for Education Reform, said the group has plans in store for the future, especially concerning developing new teachers.

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