Many readers may have recently viewed the three-hour documentary “To Save Our Schools — To Save Our Children” aired by ABC news, which reviewed the challenges now facing our public schools across the country. This illuminating documentary focused on what I consider one of the most disturbing issues facing our country today — the plight of our public schools. These problems in education are not off at some future date: they are in evidence today.
The nationwide focus on the public schools has been developing now for well over a year. Several state legislatures, including the North Carolina General Assembly, have addressed some of the problems by increasing appropriations to provide better pay and better training for teachers, to reduce class sizes, and to provide broader community support for the public schools.
Last spring our own Chancellor Chris Fordham, shared with alumni readers the University’s deep and long-standing commitment to the public schools of North Carolina. Programs to enhance teacher training are run principally through the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences. They are reflective of the public service commitment of the University. In addition, the Institute of Government. the School of Education and the School of Business Administration are collaborating on implementation of the new Principals Institute in conjunction with the State Department of Public Instruction. Chancellor Fordham believes in this program. He said: “This program will expose school principals from across the state to a sophisticated, relevant management training program. The Institute will enhance their professional development skills, expertise, and pride in leading their schools toward excellence.”
It is essential that alumni everywhere become active participants in what must be a national crusade to “save our schools.” Alumni of this First State University treasure our long tradition of public education. It is important that as individuals we make a personal commitment to do our part for public schools. We must assure that the multitude of problems besetting the public schools across the country are not simply addressed, but resolved.
I join Chancellor Fordham and the administrative officers and faculty of the University in urging our alumni, as individuals and through our alumni chapters, to contribute in this area. The tradition and quality of the University will be imperiled if our public schools are not producing a continuing pool of superlative students, well grounded in the basics, who understand the need to study and whose values and work habits assure their capacity to learn.
This is particularly critical with the declining number of college-age applicants. Carolina, once able to rely upon a growing pool of very able, well prepared applicants, now finds itself beyond the “baby boom.” We must move more aggressively to recruit students. If these students are not well prepared for college work, then our tasks become doubly difficult. This could jeopardize the quality of the student body here at Chapel Hill.
We must make this commitment to public schools for the future of Carolina, our communities, our states and indeed, our nation. We must have an educated citizenry. Our economy, our national security, and our democratic form of government are highly dependent upon such an enlightened public. As “To Save Our Schools, To Save Our Children,” concluded, “if our schools fail — we all fail.”
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70