“It’s designed to convert more of our research dollars into products and services that are patented and introduced into the marketplace,” he said. “We can’t have these reports and studies up on a shelf. We’ve got to convert them into jobs.”
Making public higher education more affordable — especially community college — was another key point of McCrory’s education agenda.
“We must look at our community college and university balance sheets to make sure we’re making investments in the programs that will prepare our students for the global economy and close North Carolina’s skills gap,” he said.
McCrory also hammered home the importance of skills-based education and supporting K-12 teachers — financially and in the classroom.
In 2014, the governor’s administration promised to raise teacher base pay to $35,000 a year — a promise reaffirmed on Wednesday.
McCrory emphasized the importance of giving teachers “more time to teach” by reducing the time and resources spent on testing students. In conjunction with statewide officials, district superintendents and teachers, he said his administration will work to eliminate unneeded standardized testing by next year.
“The system of testing that has been created in our schools is a failure. Giving teachers more autonomy over their classrooms to actually teach is a step in the right direction,” said Alex Johnson, president of the UNC chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.
In the Democratic response to McCrory’s speech, House Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham, said McCrory is failing students.
“Our teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation, and states like Texas are holding job fairs here and convincing some of our best and brightest to move away,” he said. “We owe it to ourselves and our state to do better.”
In a departure from McCrory’s usual mantra of small government, the governor also announced an increased effort to build new infrastructure and the creation of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to protect and fight for military bases, promote the health of veterans and their families, aid veterans in their search for jobs and support military communities.
As the state’s economy continues to rebound, McCrory spent a decent chunk of the speech touting the state’s dropping unemployment rate. He added that the private sector has created 200,000 new jobs since his last State of the State address two years ago.
“Despite this tremendous accomplishment there are still a lot of communities, small businesses, and individuals that are hurting, and there is still much work to be done.”