The governor has been getting some heat because of remarks he made on the radio about how he'd like to change higher education in North Carolina.
I consider myself something of an expert in North Carolina's higher education system. My wife and I have have funded two undergraduate degrees for our children over the past eight or so years.
Actually, I'm not an expert at all, just someone whose tuition checks cleared the bank. But I think we should all keep our eyes on the ball, and not get tangled up in the merits of women's studies vs. computer engineering.
Because they drop out of high school, they can't take advantage of the really good public university system that their parents and grandparents helped fund.
The second problem is that too many of the kids who do graduate high school have to take remedial math and English classes at the community colleges, because they test so low. This is the secret shame of our K-12 system, kids walking across the stage at graduation who are going to have to repeat high school-level courses at the communities.
The companies that we want to recruit to North Carolina need employees who can do math and who are able to read and write well. Particularly in the rural counties where unemployment is running in double digits. No use trying to woo a company to build a factory in a corn field if it can't find enough trainable workers in the county. Trainable meaning they can pass basic reading and math skills tests.
If the dropout problem isn't solved, and if the kids who do graduate high school are shaky at math and don't have much comprehension when it comes to reading, then our biggest educational challenge isn't in Chapel Hill.