Education as we’ve known it for past 50 years is undergoing significant changes, and though there is a general hope that the structure and settings will soon return to what is currently deemed normal, there are indications that many changes will become permanent. And for this reason it is time for educators and elected officials to begin rethinking the process of education.
When N.C. Governor Roy Cooper failed to provide clarity as promised on July 1 as to which plan he would set for the state’s public schools, the flood gates opened as parents began inquiring about homeschool options. That Wednesday evening, the website for the N.C. Department of Administrations Notice of Intent to Establish a Home School shut down due to an overwhelming number of inquiries.
Spencer Mason, Executive Office Manager and Law and Policy Director for North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE), expressed surprise at the impact of the calls on the state’s website but he said he was not surprised that “a lot of people are interested in home schooling.”
Governor Cooper's decision in mid-March to shut down public school attendance and instead initiate remote learning in response to the coronavirus pandemic, left many teachers, students and parents dissatisfied. The governor compounded the problem in July when he delayed his decision on which of three plans would be utilized for attendance in public schools. The three plans articulated in "Strong School NC Public Health Tookit" had either Plan A with full enrollment, Plan B with hybrid enrollment utilizing remote learning or Plan C with no in class enrollment with all classes meeting remotely.
On July 14, with only five weeks before students were to return to school, the governor finally announced he is instituting Plan B in most cases and that Plan C would be acceptable as deemed appropriate by local school boards.
No one is to blame for last year’s failed spring semester. It was and continues to be a disaster of monumental proportions for which there is no known template. But it does represent the proverbial “handwriting on the wall” in the sense that educators are going to have to think different thoughts about teaching techniques and delivery systems.
Parents, students and many teachers are very skeptical about governor’s mandate and are already reconsidering how to pursue schooling for the coming year. And whether the local school boards in each district use any variety of hybrid plans, such as one week in class and one week with remote learning or two days out of each week in a seated classroom and the other two days learning remotely, the students and their parents are not receptive as has been proven by the visits to the homeschool website, nche.com
Fortunately, the Carteret County school system already has several innovative programs in place to provide unique educational opportunities that have been well received by students, their parents and teachers. The Marine and Science Technology (MaST) early college program currently in place at Carteret Community College as well as the highly successful dual enrollment program that allows high school seniors, and some juniors, to take college courses in addition to their standard high school curriculum are just two examples of innovative educational program with proven success
Carteret County has received its long- awaited funding for the MaST program and should immediately re-open enrollment for incoming freshmen, which the school board voted to close just 10 days prior to receiving state funding. But these two programs should represent the beginning of innovative efforts, not the end goal.
The county has two new educational leaders who can provide new energy for the county’s school system, Dr. Rob Jackson who just this week was sworn in as Carteret County Schools Superintendent and Dr. Traci Mancini, who recently accepted the position as President of Carteret Community College. Both educational leaders are well positioned to take advantage of the unprecedented challenges to our education system.
Taking a cue from the Capital One commercial, it’s time for education to be reimagined and Carteret County schools are in the best position for making this happen with fresh leadership and a very receptive audience.