At BEST NC, we believe that it’s time for North Carolina to once again lead the nation in education. Learn how we can transform our education system to meet our growing economic demands and prepare students for success in school, work and life.


Time to Lead

North Carolina has a history of prioritizing education:

  • 1776: North Carolina’s first constitution recognizes education.
  • 1789: University of North Carolina chartered.
  • 1840: First public school in North Carolina.
  • 1868: North Carolina’s second constitution established education as a right.
  • 1907: First kindergarten.
  • 1919: School length to 6 months, and teacher certification established.
  • 1943: Nine-month school year.
  • 1946: Compulsory attendance to age 16.
  • 1977: Kindergarten for all students.
  • 1993: Smart Start established.
  • 2002: First early college high school.

In 2015, North Carolina had the highest graduation rate in state history: 85%! But 45% of employers in North Carolina are reporting job vacancies (many of which are critical vacancies), and we are tied with Mississippi for last place in ACT scores among states with 100% ACT participation.

We know that our educators and our students are working hard every day. So why is it that we are failing to keep up?

The fact is, North Carolina’s education system as whole is having to do something it has never had to do before.

In 1970, only 17% of jobs required any education beyond high school. But by 2020, 67% of the workforce will need a post-secondary credential.

Despite these higher demands on our education system, the way we structure our classrooms and schools and support our educators has not changed much.

1970 vs 2020 classrooms with teacher

Old system does not meet needs of future

We are expecting our teachers and principals to prepare students for a new 21st century economy, but we’re only giving them a 20th century system to work with.

BEST NC believes that we can transform our education system to achieve systemic change from cradle to career. Learn more about our Theory of Change here.

Simply “keeping up” is no longer good enough… it’s time (once again) to lead.