Leaders in education, business, philanthropy and government across North Carolina have come together to form My Future NC — a statewide commission focused on setting comprehensive attainment goals for the state’s education system.
The commission — comprised of over 30 members from diverse professional backgrounds — is co-chaired by Dale Jenkins, CEO of Medical Mutual Holdings; Andrea Smith, CAO of Bank of America; and Margaret Spellings, president of the UNC system.
The commission plans to produce two reports by 2018. One will set attainment goals and policy recommendations to address prominent issues in education while the other will lay out policy recommendations regarding specific issues and proposed solutions.
The committee will meet several times throughout the next 12 to 18 months and will host eight town-hall-style meetings to hear from different sectors of education and the economy. Each meeting will be streamed live on UNC-TV.
In a statement released Oct. 17, Spellings said rural communities had been left out of educational and economic reforms and successes and pointed out that North Carolina is one of a few states without a comprehensive, statewide strategy for K-12 and post-secondary education.
“The goal of this effort is simple but by no means easy: to develop a multi-year education plan that recommends a robust attainment goal for the state and a broad-based agenda for a stronger and more competitive North Carolina,” Spellings' statement said. “We can do better and we should do better—the future of our great state depends on it.”
Kristy Teskey, executive director of the commission, said a major goal of the commission should be educational equality across the state.
“If you’re educated in North Carolina, it should be a stamp of approval that you have a quality education,” she said.
Teskey said another purpose of the commission is to unite conversations about North Carolina’s economic development, workforce development and education system.
“We really want to bring those conversations together because it is our education pipeline that really creates North Carolina’s future workforce for the industries that we have now and for our future industries,” she said.
Andrea Smith, My Future NC co-chairperson, said in a statement higher education is important to the future of North Carolina’s workforce.
“Two of every three new jobs now require some form of post-secondary education – whether that’s training credentials, an associate degree, a four-year degree or higher,” she said. “This reality underscores how critical education is to career growth and how important it is to increasing economic mobility.”
Tracy Zimmerman, executive director of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation and a member of the commission, said early child development should be considered when discussing a child’s educational attainment through post-secondary levels of education.
“If you're going to set a goal for that higher education attainment, you have to sort of look at what are the benchmarks that you know are going to be getting them there,” she said.
Jordan Posamentier, deputy policy director at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, said it is important for the commission to consider that the policies they recommend will be the responsibility of local community members to carry out.
“It's hard to pass policy — don’t get me wrong — but then after that policy is passed and it becomes a law or a regulation, actually carrying out that policy with fidelity on what some policy folks call the 'street level,' is where it becomes truly challenging,” he said.