Politics and Education: Bedfellows of the Nineties

Virginia L. Cárdenas

Masters of School Administration Student

UNC-Chapel Hill,


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.