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NC gubernatorial candidates on education

Overcrowded schools and a rising dropout rate -- just a few of the education issues North Carolina's gubernatorial candidates want to address if elected. The growth of southeastern North Carolina has not only placed a burden on our roads and infrastructure, it's also put a strain on our schools. Mobile classrooms are a common sight on many school grounds, as the student population has quickly outgrown the main buildings. Teachers conduct class in gymnasiums, cafeterias, and even janitors' closets. And money for new school construction is tight. Gubernatorial candidate Bev Perdue said, "Bottom line for state government is educating our people for good jobs in a new economy. And that starts in public schools across the state and right here in new hanover county. We have to get some of those mobile classrooms off of the school property and do what we have to do which is build schools and hire good teachers and have high expectations for all of our kids." Treasurer Richard Moore wants to cut the high school dropout rate in half by teaching real world skills, take steps to attract the best teachers, like increasing teacher pay and increase accountability to improve performance statewide. On the Republican side, Bob Orr says the state needs to help local governments with education funding. He said, "The burden has been shifted from the state to local government to build schools. And whether it's a county that's relatively affluent like New Hanover or more rural counties around southeastern North Carolina, counties are having a hard time having enough money to meet that responsibility. And I think there are two things that can be done. The state needs to assume more of a responsibility in funding school construction. But secondly, we need a modernization of our overall tax system in the state." Bill Graham would require all of North Carolina's Education Lottery dollars go directly to schools. He wants to raise the state's dropout age from 16 to 18. He also wants to institute more early and middle college programs to give students marketable skills prior to graduating from high school. Pat McCrory wants to add more trade courses for students to become electricians, mechanics and engineers. He wants to eliminate school system bureaucracies that he says drive away qualified teachers. He also wants to revise the state's standardized testing procedure, which he says forces educators to design their curriculums around the tests, rather than what's most important for students. Fred Smith believes that while we need qualified, well-paid teachers, first and foremost, we need to meet the needs of our students. That means improving the quality of education by eliminating classroom distractions, improving vocational programs by working with community colleges, and removing the cap on charter schools. When it comes to new school construction projects the counties in southeastern North Carolina are receiving a smaller portion of education lottery dollars than other counties. That's because the money is allocated based on a county's property tax rate. Ours is lower in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties compared with other areas -- so we don't get as big a share of the lottery funds.

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