In the Media

Is the ‘common school’ ideal doomed in North Carolina?

Are the ideals behind our public school system withering?

Bill McDiarmid, dean of the School of Education, raises that question in a commentary published by RealClearEducation.com.

“The days of North Carolina leading the way in public education are behind us,” McDiarmid says in the column, pointing out that loss of political and budgetary support for the state’s public education system comes at a time when it has been more successful than ever.

“The four-year graduation rate is at an all-time high,” he writes. “Thanks in part to additional funding from the Race to the Top grant and to the effective work of the Department of Public Instruction's "turnaround" team, the state's lowest achieving schools have improved very significantly. Despite persistent resource inequities across schools, many of the indicators of educational progress are moving in the right direction, albeit not as quickly as everyone wishes.”

However, legislators have enacted a series of measures that are draining resources from public schools, and cutting tax revenues that will make it harder in the future to rebuild support for public education, he says.

McDiarmid points out that public schools are drawn from a belief that educating children from all walks of life together in “common schools” can help strengthen a democratic society.

“Despite all their flaws, our public schools remain our best hope for realizing the ideals of the early common school advocates. In North Carolina, we are moving away from those ideals.”

The full text is available here.