Governor Jim Hunt took advantage of his fourth inaugural ceremony to stress how education will continue to receive top billing in North Carolina's politics. He emphasized in his address the direct correlation between educational reform and the state's prosperity. Governor Hunt reminded us of how history has been impacted by the quality of public education and of how our future will also be guided and determined by how well the state's leadership places education at the forefront. His educational goals are to make schools safe and orderly, increase teacher pay to the national average, continue to aim for higher student achievement, and make Smart Start available throughout the entire state. Smart Start has been Governor Hunt's program aimed at providing support services for families and children from birth through age six. It is currently available in 43 of North Carolina's 100 counties.
As more of our children continue to fall
victim to the conditions of violence, hunger, homelessness, neglect,
and poverty we must arm them with the skills that will increase
their resiliency. If we haven't yet discovered a way for all children
to be exempt from these crimes of society, we must at least provide
them with the skills not only to survive, but to succeed in developing
the rich plethora of talents that lies within each of them. Education
can no longer be the "politically correct" lip-service
topic of political campaigns. Our desire for educational excellence
must be reflected in the actions of the state's economic and political
leadership. We must have concrete evidence that in North Carolina
children are truly first. Society will stagnate if we do not provide
better training for our student teachers, provide on-going professional
and technical support for our teachers (especially those beginning
their careers), make teaching a financially feasible career, and
restructure the educational bureaucracy so that change and progress
can be allowed to flow from our educational leaders, community,
parents, children and back out to our society. By only featuring
public education, Governor Hunt's inaugural address demonstrates
the new role that education will play in its newly gained status.
North Carolina citizens should demand that
our legislators stop skimping or "band-aiding" the serious
educational problems that we are plagued with. Educational opportunities
for children require action at the legislative, university, district,
and community level. If our hopes are for all children to have
the best education, we must give of our own best to help society
realize its potential. Let us abandon our partisan beliefs and
join together the fields of politics and education during this
decade to prove that children are truly first!
Wagner, John. (1997, January 12). Hunt
uses ceremony to educate. News and Observer. p.1, 10.