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January 2006

After an upbeat story appears in Education Week about Governor Hunt, Raleigh's News & Observer examines the lasting legacy of the education governor. During his final two terms, Governor Hunt gained bipartisan support for the Excellent Schools Act, which promised teacher pay increases, bonuses for advanced degrees, incentive awards based on performance, higher standards for teacher certification, and a new "ABCs of Public Education." Education Week had praised Governor Hunt for implementing the accountability measures, saying "no state is doing more than North Carolina to put in place real and meaningful accountability measures.”

April 2006

In April, The Hunt Institute hosts the third annual North Carolina Legislators Retreat, during which "legislators confronted some of the thorniest challenges to public education in North Carolina." Emphasis is placed on the middle grades, as they are the "gateway to achievement in high school and beyond."

Erskine Bowles, the then president of the University of North Carolina, delivers the keynote, announcing initiatives such as scholarship loans to students pledging to teach in high-need areas, scholarships for lateral-entry teachers, and incentives to encourage college students to enter a career teaching math and science.

Other speakers join from SAS Institute, Inc., IBM Corporation, GlaxoSmithKline, UNC's Kenan Flagler Business School, University of Illinois Chicago, Syracuse University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and University of California at Berkeley.

September 2006

"Educating these children is the right thing to do. These children are our children."


In the News & Observer, Governor Hunt makes the case for educational equity. This time, he talks about his work to allow qualified students identifying as Hispanic to pay in-state tuition rates, even if their parents entered the state illegally. If students attended a high school in the state for four years, met university standards, and applied for citizenship, they should be eligible for in-state tuition, he argues. Governor Hunt claims that this was the way to create a highly educated workforce, and although advocacy groups praised the proposal, it was met with a great deal of opposition.

In 2021, a college senior writes an opinion piece for EducationNC about this very subject. He speaks of the 3,000 undocumented students and dreamers without access to in-state tuition. Students are advocating for state representatives to pass a bill that would allow everyone to receive in-state tuition, regardless of citizenship status.

Today, more than one million individuals identifying as Hispanic call North Carolina home. According to Excelencia in Education, Latinx students in North Carolina graduate at a higher rate at four-year institutions compared to Latinx students nationally. However, the state still has work to do in overall degree completion and attainment.


News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina). 17 September 2006, page A26.

Group photo taken at 4th Annual North Carolina Legislators Retreat in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

November 2006

The fourth annual North Carolina Legislators Retreat is held in November to foster discussion around North Carolina's competitiveness in education, with special emphasis on math and science. During the event, speakers join The Institute from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, The National Academies, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Massachusetts Department of Education, ACT, Public School Forum of North Carolina, Northampton Country Schools, Data Quality Campaign, and the Florida Department of Education.

Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, delivers the Keynote. Florida's book illustrates the importance of helping individuals develop the skills and tools to think creatively in the workplace and bring new ideas to the table. This ties in to the overall theme of the convening, as the goal of education is to create students that can think critically and act not only locally, but globally as well.

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Group photo taken at the Lieutenant Governors Education Symposium in Washington, D.C.

March 2007

The Hunt Institute makes its way to Washington, D.C. to host the Lieutenant Governors Education Symposium. Governor Hunt opens the convening by talking about education as our country’s most vital resource in a rapidly globalizing world. Discussions center around college and workforce readiness, math and science, and out-of-school time, or OST programs.

College and workforce readiness and math and science had been discussed at previous convenings, but for the first time, experts discussed high-quality OST programs as a means of increasing student achievement. Historically, these programs didn't play a role in improving education, mainly due to a lack of quality standards, a lack of access, and limited funding. After hearing from speakers at the North Carolina Center for Afterschool programs, Public School Forum of North Carolina, Afterschool Alliance, and Public Education Network, The Hunt Institute devised policy recommendations, which included developing program standards, and increasing funding streams to include both federal and philanthropic funding.

This convening was supported by The Broad Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and The State Farm Companies Foundation.

Dr. Evans delivered the K-8 Science Education: Elements that Matter keynote.

This video from EducationWeek illustrates the importance of introducing students of color to science even today, disparities exist in access and achievement in STEM subjects.

May 2007

Alongside the Public School Forum of North Carolina and the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center, The Hunt Institute hosts its first ever science-specific convening, titled K-8 Science Education: Elements that Matter. The event focuses on strategies for improving science instruction in the elementary and middle grades to increase student success during their secondary and postsecondary years.

At the time of this convening, only 25 percent of fourth graders in North Carolina were proficient in science, with further disparities among students of color. To this day, programs exist to get more students of color to see themselves in science.

Dr. David Evans, who previously served as the under secretary for science at the Smithsonian Institution, opens the convening by outlining the benefits of scientific literacy. Other sessions featured guests from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Microsoft Corporation, and The Education Trust.


December 2007

The fifth annual North Carolina Legislators Retreat exploring North Carolina's high school dropout crisis is held in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Two years earlier, the state became the first to calculate the number of high school students graduating in four years. The statistic was alarming to many – just 69 percent of students held a diploma in their hands at the end of four years.

A study by Robert Balfanz discusses a study out of Johns Hopkins University, which had revealed that one third of North Carolina’s high schools had promoting power (the measure of seniors enrolled in a high school compared to the number of students enrolled in ninth grade at the same school four years prior) of 60 percent or less.

Educational equity is at the forefront at this convening – many schools with higher dropout rates were located in low wealth districts. During the convening, legislators learned about the risk factors that help predict dropout risk, effective interventions for at-risk students, and strategies for recovering students who leave school.

Dr. Pedro Noguera delivers the keynote. Dr. Noguera’s presented research focused on how schools are influenced by the social and economic conditions of the surrounding areas. Thus, he added an equity lens to the dropout discussion. Former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise joins the convening as an expert in high school policy and America’s secondary education system.

Additional resource experts joined from Johns Hopkins University, Public School Forum of North Carolina, Turnaround for Children, Inc., The Education Trust, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Charleston County School District, Jobs for the Future, Louisiana Department of Education, and North Carolina Community College System.

5thNCLR_Agenda_Final 2.pdf

Dr. Noguera gave the keynote at the 5th annual NCLR. Today, he is dean at USC Rossier School of Education.

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March 2008

The State Legislative Leaders Education Symposium is held to discuss educational leadership as a means of economic prosperity. Attendees learn about the analytical and interactive skills employers seek. Whether students choose to enter the workforce or attend college after high school, they need to be prepared with the critical thinking and analytical skills. When challenges in the classroom, students are less likely to drop out of high school.

In 2008, a study found that only 20 percent of African American and 16 percent of Latino students graduate high school college ready. There are still challenges in ensuring students graduate feeling confident about their future. A 2016 Youth Truth survey found that less than half of students surveyed felt like they were ready to step on to a college campus after high school.

5th Annual NCLR Brief-reprint.pdf

April 2008

The Hunt Institute team is growing. Before LinkedIn and online job posting sites really gained popularity, we posted our job openings in the newspaper. Take a look at this advertisement in the News & Observe for a program coordinator.

Matt Miller was a senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Ellen Moir is the founder and CEO of the New Teacher Center.

Governor Bob Wise (WV) is author of Raising the Grade: How High School Reform Can Save Our Youth and Our Nation.

Dr. Jenny Sue Thorton was president of Cuyahoga Community College.

June 2008

This year's Governors Education Symposium is focused on developing a supportive, innovative, and effective education system. In fact, this is the theme for much of the year's convenings at The Hunt Institute, as you'll see below. The Institute, along with other education policy organizations, looks to the nation's top-performing school systems for inspiration and guidance. Through this process, stakeholders find that schools with strong student outcomes have a couple things in common: quality teachers and instruction.


"Some students have been fortunate enough to be raised in communities where excellent education is the norm. Too many others have not had the same opportunities. Today, this opportunity must be available to all students, regardless of home and community circumstances."

Blueprint, Issue 1

June 2008

Our new policy primer, Blueprint, makes its debut. Each issue focuses on a critical issue in education policy and highlights the key research policymakers need to know to make informed decisions. The first issue summarizes the findings of a study The Hunt Institute commissioned from the National Research Council of the National Academies. The study finds that standards vary greatly from state to state, state standards aren’t consistently challenging students between subjects and grade levels, and students are asked to study similar material every year.

The need for a challenging curriculum comes from the idea that for more students to graduate high school, they need a strong foundation in the elementary and middle school years. During this time, the state expressed growing interest in the development of national or common core standards. In response, The Hunt Institute partners with Achieve Inc., the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National Governors Association (NGA). These organizations worked from the idea that with fewer, more clear, and higher standards, students would be more likely to succeed on their education journeys.

In just two years, in 2010, CCSSO and NGA would sponsor the common core standards for English and mathematics.


October 2008

After a successful launch of Blueprint, the second issue is published in October. The second issue talks about the transition from high school to college stating that 28 percent of American students who attend college must take remedial coursework. Contrary to the belief that students who don't do well in high school courses are the ones that have to take them again in college, many students earned As and Bs in the high school courses, but the courses themselves were not as rigorous as they should have been.

The issue brief draws on the research and opinions of individuals at RAND Corporation, McGraw Hill, and Achieve, Inc. Similar to the first issue, this brief stresses the importance of developing challenging, meaningful standards to prepare students from college.


Winter 2008

The first issue of our newsletter, coNCepts, is published. The issue examines the importance of the first years of life in paving the way for later academic success. Research shows that low-income students enter school behind their middle- and upper-income peers, both academically and socially. This first issue examines the health challenges of lower-income children, like vision, nutrition, lead exposure, and asthma. The newsletter also provides a case study, examining how New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson established the New Mexico Children's Cabinet. We continue to collaborate with New Mexico in the early childhood space today.


December 2008

The sixth annual North Carolina Legislators Retreat, Preparing Students for the Future, is held in Pinehurst, North Carolina. The convening includes discussions on bringing international practices in education to the United States, the future of the education system, current challenges in North Carolina, strategies for training and supporting teachers and principals, and strategies for student success.

At the time, a Wallace Foundation study found that among all school-related factors, leadership was second only to classroom instruction in influencing student learning. The impact of school leaders in high-needs schools was evident through this survey. High quality principals and teachers translate into academic success for students, but to have high-quality staff in schools, they need supports.

During the 2007-2008 school year, North Carolina districts experienced an average teacher turnover rate of 13.9 percent. To alleviate this issue, research at the time recommended more mentor-based programs to improve retention of new teachers. The New Teacher Center found that when new teachers participated in induction programs, their productivity rivaled that of teachers who had been teaching for three or four years.


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April 2009

The Institute hosts the 2009 North Carolina Science Summit, Best Practices in STEM Education: Building Momentum for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in Education in North Carolina. The convening brings together 350 teachers, administrators, and policymakers from North Carolina and 16 other states.

At the conference, speakers discuss the need to ensure all students receive high-quality STEM education. To do this, states would need to build a comprehensive, integrated, standards-based STEM education system. This would keep students competitive in modern society, which requires higher-level thinking and problem-solving skills. SMT Center President Dr. Sam Houston shares this with the audience during his introduction.

The conference was hosted in partnership with the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center (SMT Center) and the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). You can read about this conference in the second issue of CoNCepts.

NBC News Story on Arne Duncan's Announcement


Listen to our conversation with Secretary Arne Duncan on The Hunt Institute's podcast: As Yet Untold.

June 2009

At this year’s Governors Education Symposium, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announces that $350 million in federal funds will be placed toward efforts to develop common standards for student achievement and national assessments to replace state-created tests.

The major policy speech ushers in the new idea of developing national standards to replace the state standards that had been used in districts across the country. Some states and districts didn’t agree with the federal government having greater control of the education system – for years prior education decisions had been purely left up to the states.

The funds Secretary Duncan announced were part of the Race to the Top (RttT) program, which was introduced by the Obama administration. The money was part of the federal government's $5 billion fund to be used to adopt reward states for adopting Obama-supported policy changes.


The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia). 15 June 2009, page A4.

December 2009

With support from Atlantic Philanthropies, The Institute hosts the Tri-State Summit: Meeting the Needs of Disadvantaged Youth in the Afterschool Hours. In partnership with the Georgia Afterschool Investment Council, North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs, and the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance, we host an unprecedented gathering of state leaders in the fields of education, juvenile justice, health and human services, and afterschool programs.

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January 2010

The 7th annual North Carolina’s Legislators Retreat revolves around four tenants:

  • Adoption of internationally benchmarked standards and assessments

  • Recruitment, development, and retainment of effective teachers and principals

  • Improvement of low-performing schools

  • Creation of data systems to measure student success

These four tenants originated from the four tenants that states had commit to in order to receive funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the time, North Carolina had signed on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and was also moving forward with its Accountability and Curriculum Reform Effort (ACRE). ACRE embraced the four tenants described above, putting the state in a good position to win grant money from the Race to the Top program.

After the convening, the News & Observer writes a piece about the NCLR, describing former North Carolina Governor Perdue, who led the Southern Regional Education Board’s Middle Grades Commission, work to make the middle grades “inspirational and motivational.” When students lose motivation in middle school, they’re more likely to drop out of high school, according to a report by SREB.

June 2010

The Council of State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices release the final version of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In the months leading up to the release experts in assessment, curriculum design, cognitive development, early childhood, child development, English-language acquisition, along with elementary, middle, and postsecondary education met to ensure the standards were aligned to college and workforce expectations. The states and public provided feedback on the CCSS content through surveys.

Forty-eight states, two territories, and the District of Columbia had signed on to the efforts to develop CCSS. When the U.S. Department of Education saw the unified standards in the CCSS, they promoted adoption of the standards in the Race to the Top Program.

An issue of Blueprint released in June 2010 explains how state leaders could move toward adoption of these new standards and get stakeholders on board.


Bob Wehling served as senior advisor and was a member of the Board of Directors at The Institute.

October 2010

The author of an opinion piece in The Cincinnati Enquirer talks about Bob Wehling, a board member at The Hunt Institute, as someone who could make a major difference in improving education. In 2007, Wehling published a book titled, “Building a 21st Century Education System.” Although some of his recommendations for reworking the public education system were controversial, the opinion author argues that for places like Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, which rank low in public education quality, his bold ideas might be exactly what’s needed.

View Citation

The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio). 31 October 2010, page 53.

November 2010

Gary Pearce, who served as Governor Hunt's press secretary during the governor's first two terms, writes a book titled, "Governor Hunt: A Biography." The book describes the education governor's handling of racial, cultural, and economic transitions in North Carolina. David Carlton, who was a research fellow at the Global Research Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill at the time, reviewed the biography for the News & Observer.

View Citation

The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). 21 November 2010, page 8D.