There was once a time, not really so many years ago, when North Carolina was the beacon on the hill for the rest of the South. Daddy caught sight of the beacon’s light nearly 40 years ago and headed up I-85 to settle in Durham. My brother was in middle school at the time, became a full-fledged Tar Heel and went to North Carolina State. My sister and her family later emigrated from California to North Carolina and took root.
From time to time, Daddy would literally beg me to put Alabama in my rear-view mirror and join the rest of his clan. I always refused. But I traveled there often and watched the state closely. I marveled that at the time George Wallace was preaching “segregation forever,” North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford was traveling the country touting something called the Research Triangle Park. This park now sprawls across thousands of acres in the Chapel Hill-Durham-Raleigh area and is home to more than 190 companies employing 50,000 workers. My brother has worked there for years.
Sanford was a strong proponent of public education and nearly doubled the state’s school funding in his four years in office. He was later a U.S. Senator and President of Duke University. Jim Hunt was another governor devoted to public education. He was particularly interested in early childhood education and is chair of the board of the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
But about five years ago a new wind began sweeping down from the Blue Ridge all the way to Kitty Hawk and legislative leadership took a different direction. This time, rather than education being at the table, they were on the menu.
The Charlotte News & Observer recently spoke out about what is taking place in North Carolina. They do not agree with the sudden shift in policy.
And from my vantage point, the Charlotte newspaper could easily be describing the present state of affairs in Alabama.