Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is calling for broad reforms to the K-12 education system in North Carolina. Robinson’s comments came during a standing committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 21, that touched on themes of accountability, discipline, and restoring common sense.
Robinson, a Republican, specifically called out a lack of discipline in public school classrooms, the presence of political issues and agenda-driven indoctrination, missing transparency, and lack of rigor in the curriculum to train students for the job market.
The state’s first black lieutenant governor took aim at administrators who prioritize social engineering above the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics.
“There is no reason to be sitting in an elementary school class and have a teacher talking to children about social engineering, when the child can’t spell ‘social’ or ‘engineering,’” said Robinson. “During the Civil War, we had sixth-grade students who were learning Greek and Latin. Now we can’t even get our children to read on grade level with all the money and technology we have today. It’s a sad state.”
Robinson’s comments came during the latest meeting of the N.C. House Select Committee on an Education System for North Carolina’s Future. The group has been tasked with spending the next two years researching the best approaches in the world of K-12 education and making recommendations.
In remarks to the committee, Robinson cited recent end-of-grade test scores for the 2020-21 school year to show how public schools are underperforming. Those results showed that over half of K-12 students passed state exams.
“The question we need to ask ourselves in North Carolina is why we spend half of our state budget on education and our numbers look like that? That is abysmal. That is failure,” he said.
Robinson also set his sights on lack of discipline, control, and safety in the classroom. He cited one story from a teacher who is a 24-year veteran of the profession but plans to quit due to discipline and safety issues in the classroom.
He referenced statistics showing that N.C. high school classrooms have nearly double the crime rate compared to the state as a whole.
“Teachers have got to stop going to school in fear for themselves, and the same goes for our students,” Robinson said. “We see the chaos in our schools and part of the reason why is because we’re no longer providing the discipline in those walls that we need to.”
Robinson decried the disconnect between K-12 public education and the demands of the modern work force. He pointed to the arrival of companies like Boom and Apple to North Carolina, but said schools are inadequately preparing students for these jobs.
For solutions, Robinson recommended enhancing apprenticeship and track-based education that directly prepares students for jobs. He also pushed for the expansion of school choice through growing the Opportunity Scholarship Program, increasing access to charter and magnet schools, and boosting homeschooling.