Wednesday, April 2, 2008

North Carolina's education contrasts

The annual U.S. News & World Report ratings of graduate schools is out. As usual, North Carolina schools were ranked among the best. The magazine rated the top 50 schools of business, education and engineering and the top 100 law schools. Here's a summary:

Business: Harvard and Stanford were 1 and 2. Duke's Fuqua tied for 14th, with Cornell and U.Va.. UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan Flagler was 19th.

Education: Stanford and Vanderbilt were 1 and 2. UNC-Chapel Hill tied for 22nd with Kansas.

Engineering: MIT and Stanford were 1 and 2. N.C. State was 30th. Duke was 35th.

Law: Yale and Harvard were 1 and 2. Duke tied with Cornell for 12th. UNC-CH tied for 38th with George Mason and the universities of Arizona and California. Wake Forest tied for 42nd with Maryland. (South Carolina tied for 95th with Marquette, St. Louis and University of the Pacific.)
North Carolina is among the nation's best states for undergraduate and graduate education but still struggles with elementary and secondary education. As Sen. Richard Burr, an N.C. Republican, noted recently, “80 percent of high school dropouts are concentrated in only 15 states, including North Carolina,” and "over 30% of North Carolina’s public high school students never graduate. This is unacceptable."

Burr joins a chorus of voices at the local, state and national level calling for ways to ensure that young people get the education they need to be productive workers and informed citizens. This is North Carolina's -- and our nation's -- greatest challenge. -- Ed Williams