McCrory wants to change how the state funds universities - WNCN: News, Weather

McCrory wants to change how the state funds universities

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Gov. Pat McCrory wants to see major changes in the way education is funded in the state of North Carolina, with schools getting state monies based on how whether their graduates find jobs.

In his comments, McCrory attacked what he called "the educational establishment" and said North Carolina's university system needs to re-vamp its priorities.

Speaking Tuesday morning on Bill Bennett's national radio program, McCrory said, "Right now we pay based upon the number of students we have, not on the results of the number of jobs they are getting people into.

"I'm looking at legislation right now – in fact, I just instructed my staff yesterday to go ahead to go develop legislation - in which we change the basic formula in how educational monies are given out to our universities and our community colleges.

"Not based on how many butts in seats but how many butts can get jobs."

McCrory pointed out that unemployment in North Carolina remains high, but said many  companies can't find qualified employees.

"To me that means we have a major disconnect between the education establishment and commerce," he said.

"So I'm going to adjust my education curriculum to what business and commerce needs to get our kids jobs, as opposed to moving back in with their parents after they graduate."

Bennett, a former U.S. Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan, specifically pointed to programs like Gender Studies, and McCrory followed up with a specific attack on the Women's and Gender Studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"That's a subsidized course," McCrory said. "If you want to take gender studies, that's fine – go to a private school and take it. But I don't want to subsidize that if that's not going to get someone a job. Right now I'm looking for engineers,  I'm looking for technicians, I'm looking for mechanics."

Bennett said part of the program was an "elitistic culture" in academia. McCrory, who graduated from Catawba, followed up by saying, "It's even hit our athletic department. Sad to say at Carolina, our great basketball program, they took Swahili on a night study course where they didn't have to do any work and they got B-pluses.

"What are we teaching these courses for if they are not going to help get a job?

"Now, I do believe in a liberal arts education. I got one.  I think there are two reasons for education. One, as my dad used to say, is to exercise the brain. But the second is to get a skill."

McCrory also told Bennett he will unveil plans to change the North Carolina tax code "in the next two to three weeks."

McCrory said he is evaluating options and looking at ways to make North Carolina's tax system more competitive with South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

"The issue then, is, where do you get the revenue?" he said. He said he is working with the business community to find solutions.

"I'm really doing a thorough analysis," he said. "Whatever government does, there is a cause and effect. I'm going to make sure I know what the cause and effect is."

About 56 percent of the state's $19.7 billion budget goes to education, according to the UNC-Chapel Hill website. The 17-campus UNC system gets $2.5 billion, or 12 percent.

According to North Carolina State University's website, about 37 percent of its budget - a total of $499  million - comes from the state of North Carolina.

Shumuriel Ratliff

Shumuriel, a North Carolina native, is thrilled to be back in the Tar Heel state as a general assignment reporter for WNCN.

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