Proposed Budget Cuts Jeopardize Students' Progress
May 24, 2011

Several weeks ago, I had lunch with two University of North Carolina Chapel Hill students who graduated from North Carolina public schools. I met them about two years ago when one had lunch with me to talk about his ideas for improving public schools. I met the other student when he spoke to about 2,000 educators about his perspectives on public schools.

While having very different personalities, both of these young men are creative, engaging, inquisitive and would make any mom proud! They also care about the future of North Carolina.

This summer, one will be helping organize soccer camps for students who cannot afford to pay and the other is working diligently to be an officer in a county political party. Their conversation and questions about current events show a deep understanding of the issues North Carolina and the United States face.

The two young men demonstrate a sensitivity to help those who struggle and to the need that all students receive a good education even in difficult economic times. I am sure that these bright, creative college students will make a positive difference in their careers and in their communities. Along with their families, their school districts – Onslow and Orange County Schools – did a great job in ensuring that these young men were career and college ready.

I left my luncheon thinking how glad I am that these two young men stepped into my life. However, my next thought was one of sadness. Our nearly 1.5 million public school children still need to be educated. How can that be done well with the severe cuts being proposed for public education funding? How can we avoid going backwards in education when we need to continue the steady progress we have made in public education – such as achieving the lowest dropout rate ever and the highest graduation rate last year?

The investment our state made in these two young men will pay dividends. Will we be able to say the same for future students?




June St. Clair Atkinson
State Superintendent