During his State of the State address Monday night, Gov. Pat McCrory named education as one of his three areas of key focus.
But despite this proclamation, McCrory didn’t seem all that interested in the subject.
Of course, he discussed the need for education to meet the demands of employers. He alluded to a gap between employer needs and worker skills that surely education plays some role in filling.
Beyond that, McCrory’s perception of the role of higher education in the state had little to do with education per se.
State colleges and universities were described in a primarily business-oriented way. McCrory spoke of bringing universities together to “maximize research funding” and bringing “university heads on (business) recruiting trips.”
But references to higher education as anything other than a matchmaker of sorts between employers and employees were few and far between.
This is especially vexing considering the governor’s recent critical comments on the value of a public liberal arts education, which McCrory did not address in the speech.
Thankfully, the governor appeared cognizant of the fact that higher education remains vital to the future of North Carolina.
But, yet again, he left the personal and societal value of education — beyond lowering the state’s unemployment rate — out of the discussion.
There’s no doubt that the UNC system has to respond to market forces to some degree, or that business leaders should be vocal about what skills they need.
However, McCrory’s recent overemphasis on market-driven education don’t bode well for a University founded on the liberal arts.
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