UNC Charlotte hosted a contingent of international dignitaries on campus as part of the 49er Democracy Experience. The panel discussion, in conjunction with the National Democratic Institute and the Charlotte Chamber’s “Explore Charlotte” site visits, focused on education.
More than 40 participants, representing governmental and cultural organizations from Canada, China, Germany, Ireland, Kenya, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and other nations, attended the discussion held at the University’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center.
Panel members for the UNC Charlotte event included Chancellor Philip L. Dubois; Heath Morrison, superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; and Denise Watts, an executive with Project Lift. Maria Ferguson, executive director of the national Center on Education, moderated the discussion.
During the event, the panelists touched on a number of subjects, including educational challenges. Dubois noted that affordability and accessibility were challenges; he said pressure on state and federal governments have created less funding and less financial aid. Morrison said lack of confidence about American education was a challenge with teachers and principals doing more due to a broadening scope of work but with fewer funds.
With regard to the status of teaching as a career, Watts noted that upscale students aren’t supported enough while the teachers must focus so much attention to low-achieving students. She added that students from disadvantaged backgrounds need more attention and resources.
Dubois stated that UNC Charlotte produces the second-largest number of teachers in North Carolina. He said teachers have little support in the early years of their careers and many drop out within five years. UNC Charlotte’s College of Education exposes students to teaching and working with students from their first year, which is beneficial.