While the headline focus of media tends to be on the national election, NC is no doubt unique in that this year’s state elections are also very close and important. But if there is anything that I have learned the most about working in education is that local matters. As part of my summer job much of what I follow is education policy and election news. And most of the important policy and news that are coming out of our legislatures are things that are going to be directly implemented or directed by local districts. Specifically, school boards.
While state law requires most school boards to hold their general election at the time of the state primary in March, there are several counties that have exceptions to this rule and are instead voted on in November.
There are 29 counties that have school board seats up for re-election. The largest county of course being Wake County with all 9 school board seats up for reelection. But other counties such as Cumberland and Union also have 9 seats up this November. In total, there are 118 seats up for reelection. For obvious reasons these elections are VERY important. School boards handle the education budget which affect allocations, infrastructure and development of new schools, teacher pay and professional development plans. Not to mention student assignment, curriculum development, transportation, student discipline and much more. As such it is important to be informed about who is controlling our public education.
North Carolina has repeatedly been slain as one of the worst states to be a teacher in. And although, not the worst, has been a downward trend in terms of being a leader in the field of public education. There are many factors that have played into this, but no doubt our elected officials play a significant role.
In many ways these elections will also act as predictors for how our next governor will be enacting new education plans. Governor McCory and Roy Cooper have made education a large part of their platform this year. Issues such as teacher pipeline, school choice, poverty and funding, and student achievement formulas are sure to be on the table this season. Both candidates have put out education plans and platforms citing what action they would like to take. But as many people know a lot of decisions are still decided by local boards and as such the ability for either candidate to see through that each school is doing well will be dependent upon how well our state board and local boards can work together. In addition to that the state superintendent race is heating up as incumbent June Atkinson is faced against new timer Mark Johnson.
November will be a turning point for our nation. Not just the presidential election but down to every last county district election too.