The foundations of success are built in early childhood. If we want to see more young adults attaining post-secondary education, we must include the entire education continuum in the conversation, beginning in the early, most formative years, all the way through to the most advanced degree.
That was the message from PNC Bank’s Regional President Jim Hansen at the myFutureNC attainment goal announcement this morning. The myFutureNC Commission aims for 2 million North Carolina 25- to 44-year-olds to have a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by 2030. State leaders including Governor Cooper, Senate President Berger, Speaker Moore, Representative Fraley, and representatives from the K-12, community college and university systems all spoke up to endorse the myFutureNC plan to create a comprehensive, preschool through workforce education system for North Carolina.
Governor Cooper agreed that focusing on the earliest years is key. He said that an important part of reaching the myFutureNC attainment goal is getting more students enrolled in NC PreK and ensuring a continuum from cradle to career.
The myFutureNC plan highlights outcomes measures from the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success Framework, including:
- Share of eligible four-year-olds enrolled in NC PreK
- Proficiency on the fourth grade NAEP reading assessment
- Rate of chronic absenteeism
The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation sat on the Commission and was involved in the creation of the plan, which incorporates many recommendations from the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Action Framework, including:
- Increasing access to high-quality early learning opportunities
- Ensuring seamless transitions
- Investing in student support systems
- Recruiting, developing and retaining excellent educators, including more educators of color
- Adopting culturally-relevant curricula
- Ensuring high-quality learning environments for every student.
Speakers at the attainment goal announcement talked about the importance of eliminating systemic barriers to opportunity to help all North Carolinians achieve their full potential, mentioned the impact of poverty on educational opportunity, and said success should not be contingent on a child’s family income or zip code. Pathways to Grade-Level Reading also holds up racial equity as a critical lens for the complex work of building a better, more inclusive and responsive education continuum for North Carolina.
Dale Jenkins, co-chair of the myFutureNC Commission, challenged North Carolina’s education leaders and stakeholders to be disruptive and think differently about education. The way we did it in the past, he said, may not be best way to do it going forward.