Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, North Carolina Central University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Western Carolina University were listed as the candidates in the plan, which was required by a provision in the 2016-17 state budget.
“These schools will meld every part of our mission — teaching, research and public service,” Spellings said in the statement.
According to the press release, the laboratory schools must be located in public school districts where at least 25 percent of schools have been classified as low-performing.
Marty Kotis, UNC Board of Governors member, said a laboratory school gives UNC students and professors a chance to give back to their communities.
“You get people coming in who have brilliant ideas, they are energetic and are willing to make a difference,” he said.
Matt Ellinwood, director of the Education and Law Project at the North Carolina Justice Center, said the new lab schools are intended to help prepare students for postsecondary education.
“It makes all the sense in the world to have our K-12 schools partnering with the universities so that students can engage (in) that transition from high school to college more smoothly,” he said.
Ellinwood said it is unfortunate the plan is a small piece of a larger bill.
“It’s a little harder to get a sense of what the goals are and how it’s supposed to work,” he said.
Ellinwood said the plan did not consider what the relationships between lab schools and the local school districts would look like.
“You want (public schools) to see UNC as a partner, not just for the lab schools but that the lessons we learn from the lab schools are shared throughout the public school system and will have a benefit on a much larger number of students,” Ellinwood said.
Melba Spooner, dean of the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University, said faculty are looking at implementation strategies and ways to prepare students.
Ellinwood said because there are only eight proposed schools, the majority of students will continue to be educated in the traditional public school system, but it is a positive step.
“I think this could be a good thing if done in a thoughtful way,” he said.