My wonderful, caring first grade teacher, Miss Iva Forgie, used a blackboard, big chalk, and Dick and Jane books to teach us reading, writing, and arithmetic. That was the 20th century.
Students in the 21st century need caring, competent teachers, but they also need the benefit of new methods, innovative technologies, and a renewed vision of public schools. They need a 21st century education in terms of tools and approach.
Daydream for a moment and picture yourself in a public school classroom in the 21st century. The public schools of the 21st century look different. Students and teachers use technology - computers, MP3 players, interactive white boards, and other tools - as a routine way of learning. Today's teachers coach student learning and work that is authentic and relevant to the world today. Students thoroughly learn essential facts and skills - and they apply them in meaningful ways.
The workplace and global economy have changed dramatically. Competition and work are global for every type of product and service. Work is completed on 24-hour cycles that depend on a web of technology and people who may be on another continent just as easily as in the office next door. Students in our schools need education that reflects the challenges they will face as adults.
Public education is the cornerstone of American society. It is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. Our excellence has always been connected to the success of our educational system. At the state level, the NC Department of Public Instruction serves and leads 115 school districts, 2,512 public and charter schools, approximately 94,000 public school teachers and almost 1.5 million students. These numbers and the size of our state require us to be strategic about our work. We must make the most of our efforts to provide leadership for innovation, support for schools and districts, and a continual focus on student achievement and appropriate standards to strengthen North Carolina's competitiveness.
Thank you for your continued support of North Carolina's public schools.