posted on August 16, 2012 11:10
Over the last six years, the state’s graduation rate has gone up nearly 12 percentage points –from at 68.3 percent in 2006 to 80.2 percent.
It’s laughable for Republicans, who have been in power for two years, to claim credit. It’s more logical for Governor Perdue and Superintendent June Atkinson to credit investments and programs put in place during the last decade.
But think about this: Students graduating last year are 19 years old now. They were born in 1993. That’s the first year of Jim Hunt’s third term as governor. It’s the year he started putting Smart Start in place – stronger early-childhood programs for all pre-school children, not just poor kids. It’s the year he put in the ABCs standards and accountability program. In 1997, when these students were four years old, he pushed through the Excellent Schools Act. That committed North Carolina to raising teacher pay to above the national average, which we did.
When Hunt left office in 2001, the students whose graduation rate would top 80 percent were eight years old – about to enter third grade. For the next 10 years, they enjoyed the benefits of the programs Hunt put into place.
Obviously, I’m no unbiased source here. But too often in politics, we fail to consider the long haul. It’s an instant-gratification business. Education is a long haul.
Twenty years ago, Jim Hunt planted seeds. The crop is coming in.