January 20, 2021

With all the varying degrees of contentious focus on the Inauguration in Washington, D.C., it is actually nice to look at what’s going on right here in the Old North State on January 20, 2021.

Looking ahead to the NC General Assembly settling in to its “long” session when it comes back next week, it appears the NC Senate will be addressing early childhood literacy as an upcoming major issue and Senate Leader Phil Berger has said he will reintroduce legislation similar to the Excellent Public Schools Act that passed unanimously in the Senate in 2019.

The legislation passed the NC House then, but was vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper.

Senate Leader Berger is hopeful that work that has been done on this issue since that vote, working with NC Department of Public Instruction staff and members of the State Board of Education, will help shape and push legislation this year that will yield productive literacy reforms that Governor Cooper will not veto. The State Board initiated a literacy task force “whose report helped inform and support the work of a K-12 Literacy Committee at DPI.”

There is hope that Senator Berger’s initiative, with the support of newly-elected NCDPI Secretary Catherine Truitt and State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, will prevail. Davis has listed early childhood literacy as second in his top three education priorities, and has said, “We need to double down on literacy. Every academic subject depends on our students’ ability to read.”

This should be something we can all agree on. Opportunity is stifled if children can’t read. Let’s hope the Governor can put politics aside and sign this important legislation if it comes to his desk in 2021.