My Convertible Life

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Compete Globally, Challenge Locally

Looking back at my years in school, I can point to three programs that had the greatest impact, both on my education and on who I've turned out to be: North Carolina Governor's School, North Carolina Teaching Fellows and study abroad.

Now, thanks to severe budget cuts by the state legislature, two of those opportunities have been eliminated for future students. Teaching Fellows currently in the program will still receive support through graduation, but no new students will be admitted. And with help from donations by alumni and friends, the Governor's School Foundation hopes to find a way to continue -- but even raising more than $100,000 over a few weeks is no guarantee for survival.

So why should you care? Governor's School is just for nerdy smart kids who will do fine in school regardless, right? And plenty of people want to be teachers, so there's no need for a recruitment program, right?

Wrong.

For nearly 50 years, the North Carolina Governor's School has offered incredible enrichment programs for some of our state's most talented and intelligent students, many of whom come from small, rural school districts without the resources to provide similar challenges at home. While it may be tempting to dismiss these opportunities as extras for kids bound to succeed, national studies estimate that between 18 and 25 percent of gifted and talented students actually drop out of school.

More than 100 programs in 28 states have been modeled after North Carolina Governor's School -- a testament to the program's value. Participants demonstrate significant gains in cognitive growth, moral development and global thinking. For me, it was a life-changing experience in so many ways.

Similarly, the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program has, for more than 25 years, recruited "the best and the brightest" into our state's public school classrooms. The average profile of a Teaching Fellow includes an SAT score over 1100, a high school GPA of 4.0 or more on a weighted scale, and a rank in the top 10% of his/her high school graduating class. Many of them might not go into teaching -- or even be able to afford to go to college -- without the Teaching Fellows program.

Not all of us (myself included) stayed as classroom teachers, but everyone I know who completed the program has become an advocate for public schools in one way or another. Our students and schools as well as our communities and state are enriched by the graduates of this program.

At a time when many bemoan the fact that the U.S. lags behind other nations in academic achievements, it is shortsighted (at best) to eliminate programs that help our students and state remain globally competitive. If we're not supporting our most talented students or encouraging our most promising future teachers, then how do we expect to cultivate the next generation of geniuses for our country?

NOTE: If you'd like to make a gift to the Governor's School Foundation, visit their website and help them reach $200,000 by August 1.

1 comment:

  1. You were lucky that you had a programme of studying abroad. During our time we don't even have the chance to go out of our country. I mean we were not given the fascility. I think you are lucky enough to be in that position.

    ReplyDelete

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