House Select Committee Comes to Gaston County to Speak on the Future of Education
The House Select Committee "On An Education System for North Carolina's Future," led by Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, held a public hearing in Gaston County on Monday.
Monday's meeting was the third out of four hearings to gather the public thoughts on the state's public education system.
The fourth and last meeting will be conducted in May in Carteret County.
"If there was no education system in North Carolina today and you were tasked with creating one, what would be your suggestions?" asked Torbett.
"We have a large education system that is 60% of North Carolina's entire budget. When we — the committee — hear issues and concerns about our current system, then we know something is wrong," Torbett added.
Torbett, a Stanley native, alongside his wife Viddia Torbett, the committee's clerk, and five state representatives from different counties in North Carolina, met at Stanley Middle School.
Gaston County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Booker began the meeting, highlighting the unique opportunities students in the county have through the School Choice program.
The committee then gave attendees the opportunity to express their concerns and suggestions for an hour.
Ten people stood to voice their concerns during the meeting, the majority of them coming from Mecklenburg County.
Rebecca Ivanov, an eighth-grade math teacher at Mountain Island Charter School in Mount Holly, suggested giving students who fail gateway classes to transition to high school, the opportunity to take the course again during the spring semester to avoid them from repeating the year.
"Math is the gateway to high school as we know and a lot of kids are suffering and the scores are abysmal, especially in Mecklenburg, where I live right now," said Ivanov.
Other suggestions ranged from less testing and fewer school days to an increase in teacher pay.
"We need strategies to attract and retain teachers. We need to increase teacher salaries and benefits, making them competitive and commensurate with their education and reflected in the high value we place on the profession," said Sara Baysinger, a member of the League of Women Voters of Charlotte and a Mecklenburg County public school parent.
Torbett said the committee wants to hear the public's thoughts before making recommendations to the General Assembly.
Beatriz Guerrero can be reached at 704-869-1828 or on Twitter@BeatrizGue_