Governor's School Deserves Survival
Many thousands of North Carolina youths, including dozens from Moore County, have had their lives enriched - perhaps changed forever - at the N.C. Governor's School.
Over the years, more than one local graduate has sung the praises of the Governor's School in these pages, in letters and once in a guest column.
And now this admirable entity faces an uncertain future as a result of an ill-considered decision taken by the General Assembly in its determination to reduce the size of government and cut (some would say gut) the 2011-12 state budget. Private citizens have stepped in with temporary help, but the only permanent solution is for the legislature to rethink its abrupt and unwise action.
The Governor's School isn't a place; it's a summer program open to intellectually gifted high school students from across the state. It works with intellectually gifted young people, all rising seniors, with an eye toward introducing them to exciting new horizons that they might never encounter in their home schools.
'A Greater Sense of Infinity'
For years, Governor's School has offered six-week residential programs on two campuses: Salem College in Winston-Salem, starting in 1963, and Meredith College in Raleigh, added in 1978.
The Governor's School experience makes a lasting impression on participants. "This summer has given me a greater sense of infinity; the infinity of things to learn, of emotions, strategies, improvements, meaning, possibilities, and potential," wrote a drama student in the class of 2007. "I haven't conquered all my flaws or overcome all my fears, but I believe more strongly than before that I can do something in the face of them."
This imaginative program, which opens so many educational doors to participants, is administered by the Public Schools of North Carolina, the State Board of Education, and the Department of Public Instruction through the Exceptional Children Division.
Leaders of the Future
After the legislature cut the program's $850,000 annual funding last June and it became clear that the Governor's School would have to turn off its lights and close its doors this summer, private donors stepped in to keep that from happening. Salem College itself made a significant in-kind gift, and a number of alumni at both schools contributed money. The Golden LEAF Foundation chipped in a hefty $175,000 grant.
As a result, the State Board of Education has now granted permission for the program to go on this year on both the Salem and Meredith campuses, though this year's version will last only five weeks instead of six and will involve 100 fewer students.
If economic recovery and global competitiveness are premier goals of our society, as they should be, then the highest priority should go to sustaining a program like Governor's School, which has produced - and will continue to produce - graduates who go on to become enlightened leaders in fields like education, the arts, business and politics.
Unfortunately, this praiseworthy activity cannot survive in recognizable form much longer while depending only on private charity. Though the legislators undeniably faced some painful choices in confronting the budgetary shortfall, surely giving the ax to a proven program like this is a classic example of false economy.
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