North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt presented to members of the House K-12 Education Committee on Tuesday an update on her “Operation Polaris,” or her strategic vision for supporting public school students across the state. During her presentation to lawmakers, Supt. Truitt mentioned recent Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) initiatives, such as the ongoing “Pathways to Excellence for Teaching Professionals” teacher licensure and pay reform proposal, as well as the school performance grade redesign initiative. The superintendent also highlighted the ongoing work of several professional development partnerships between NCDPI and NCASA affiliates, including the Assistant Principal Accelerator Program (AP Accelerator) and other programs administered by the NC Principals and Assistant Principals’ Association (NCPAPA).
Truitt ended her presentation Tuesday by mentioning her office’s top legislative policy and budget priorities, including a new priority aimed at protecting students from “incredibly heinous activity” by teachers across the state. The superintendent shared that she signs numerous license revocations each month for teachers who have behaved inappropriately with students, and the public should expect “protect-our-students legislation” being filed in the state legislature next week. Other top policy priorities for the superintendent’s office include implementing a Pathways To Excellence pilot program; requiring career development plans for middle and high school students; making computer science a required science course for high school students; improving the state’s “residential schools”; and creating a statewide professional development platform through the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT).
Superintendent Truitt’s presentation was well-met by many Republican lawmakers, who earlier in the committee had approved a bill proposing to amend the state constitution to make the State Superintendent of Public Instruction the head of the State Board of Education (SBE). House Bill 17, as summarized by legislative staff here, would also make SBE members elected rather than appointed, among other changes. The bill’s primary sponsor and committee co-Chair, Rep. Blackwell (R-Burke), introduced a similar version of the bill during the last legislative session, but the bill ultimately stalled in the final days of session. This most recent version of the bill, if ultimately passed into law, would ask voters in the November 2024 general election to approve a state constitutional amendment putting the new education governance structure into place, which would become effective January 1, 2026 and apply to terms of office beginning January 1, 2027. The bill is scheduled to be heard next in the House Judiciary 3 Committee and if approved, then the House Rules Committee, before facing a full vote in the House and a repetition of the process in the Senate.