The more things change…..

By: - June 9, 2008 10:53 am

 Here's a quote from a top state official that sounds awfully familiar.

We simply must find ways to help students be more successful in secondary education and increase the numbers that graduate from high school. I believe nearly everyone is now agreed our school dropout problem is a national tragedy, and I believe we have the resolve to do something about it. It is high time we did.

Those are not the words of House Speaker Joe Hackney, Governor Mike Easley, or Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, all of whom talk often about the high school dropout problem. The quote is from Republican Governor Jim Martin in a speech given June 20, 1988, almost exactly 20 years ago, to the Southern Regional Education Board Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Martin went on in the speech to talk about the need for a comprehensive pre-school program for four-year-olds, which also ought to sound familiar. But just like in the current education debate, there was no talk of the role poverty plays in how well kids do in school, and no recommendations to help families lift themselves out of poverty.

Maybe in 20 more years somebody will mention it.

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066