State superintendent presents education legislative agenda to lawmakers

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt speaks at a House Education Committee hearing.

RALEIGH — At a Feb. 7 meeting of the House K-12 Education Committee, N.C. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt presented her agency’s legislative agenda items and an update on Operation Polaris to lawmakers. 

A priority Truitt presented would make computer science a required science credit for all state high school students. She also said her office is still working on a redesign of the state’s A-F performance grading system for schools including feedback from stakeholders.  

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The superintendent also discussed the “Pathways to Excellence” program that would shift teacher pay to a performance-based model. The program includes five proposed career pathway base pay levels of $38,000 through $56,000. 

“For decades we have been hearing feedback from the field saying that licensure needs to be simplified, beginning teachers need more support, and teachers need to be compensated for the leadership roles they take on,” Truitt said in a statement to North State Journal. “The Pathways to Excellence Plan does all of this, while keeping students at the center of the conversation. It allows us to fulfill our North Star of ensuring that all students have a high quality and excellent teacher in every classroom.” 

Pathways to Excellence has three goals: Every student in North Carolina has access to highly effective educators; every student in North Carolina has access to a high-quality education; and North Carolina’s educators are abundant, high-quality, diverse and well-prepared to be licensed, employed, supported, retained and compensated as highly effective educators in North Carolina schools. 

Rep. John Torbett, a Republican from Gaston County and chair of the committee, said that legislation is going to be introduced to allow K-12 districts to pilot the new teacher pay-for-performance model. 

Among Truitt’s asks was $10 million for a statewide professional development platform that would operate through the N.C. Center for The Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT). There is currently a bill working its way through the General Assembly that would put the superintendent in charge of NCCAT. 

Later in the meeting a bill seeking to make state board of education members elected positions was discussed. The bill, House Bill 17, would make the state superintendent chair of that board and, if passed, would be a ballot question for voters to decide. 

All North Carolina School districts elect their board of education members, and nine other states elect their state board of education members.  

House Bill 17 ultimately received a favorable report with a 16-9 vote, but almost every Democrat on the committee who was in attendance voted down the measure. The lone Democrat voting yes was Mecklenburg County’s Tricia Cotham.

About A.P. Dillon 1343 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_