By David Bass
Catherine Truitt, North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, announced the 48 members of a new Parent Advisory Committee on Tuesday, June 14.
The names were drawn from 3,000 applicants who responded to Truitt’s announcement earlier this year about the new committee. The purpose of the panel is to “elevate the voice of parents in students’ education” and to gather recommendations and feedback. Each member will serve a two-year term beginning this fall.
The commission includes six parents or guardians from each of the state’s eight educational regions, including two traditional public school parents, one public charter school parent, one homeschool parent, one private-school parent, and one at-large public-school parent from the largest county in each region.
“This commission is a consistent and routine way to ensure we are addressing challenges and improving outcomes for all of North Carolina’s students using feedback from those who know students best,” said Truitt in a statement. “I know they will come prepared to represent their unique students, who hail from all different backgrounds, by providing their insights, experiences, and perspectives on various aspects of K-12 education and student well-being.”
Each regional sub-group will meet monthly to prepare for quarterly meetings with all 48 members present.
In March, Democrats on the N.C. State Board of Education criticized Truitt for including too many parents from schools of choice — charters, private, and home schools. She countered that two-thirds of the panel is represented by parents of children from traditional public schools, and that public education leaders need to listen to parents with students attending schools of choice.
“I’m about protecting and improving outcomes for students in our public schools — absolutely, 100% — but if we’re going to be the first choice for families, then we need to understand why some families are choosing not to send their kids to us,” said Truitt in an interview with Carolina Journal for the Extreme Injustice podcast series.
“It would be difficult to find a state superintendent that has done more to engage parents than Catherine Truitt,” said Dr. Terry Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation. “The Parent Advisory Committee is a perfect example of Truitt’s rejection of the popular command-and-control leadership model in favor of a superintendency based on dialogue and collaboration with diverse groups of stakeholders.”
“Even the Biden administration agrees that communities need to increase parental engagement in education,” Stoops added. “The U.S. Department of Education recently announced the launch of the National Parents and Families Engagement Council. Like the Parent Advisory Committee, the National Parents and Families Engagement Council will include parents with children in district, charter, private, and home schools.”