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Just a Thought

Given the daunting demands of their jobs, the idea that teachers could use a few perks is nothing new. But when Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. recently tossed off the idea of waiving tuition at state colleges and universities for the children of North Carolina teachers, he immediately turned heads.

Gov. James B. Hunt Jr.

The concept drew quick praise from the state's largest teachers' union, and prompted articles and editorials in North Carolina newspapers. The president of the University of North Carolina system reportedly called it "a magnificent idea," and Greensboro's News & Record suggested it would help shore up the state's dwindling reserve of qualified teachers.

Amid all the attention, however, officials of Mr. Hunt's administration have reminded reporters that the idea was just a thought. "It was more something he was talking about as an idea, as opposed to a proposal that we have 500 pages prepared for," said spokesman Adam Shapiro.

Indeed, the tuition break was hardly the focus of the event at which the Democratic governor brought it up. Mr. Hunt, who will be forced by term limits to give up his post in January, was at the unveiling of a new public-television documentary about teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards earlier this month when the idea rolled out of his mouth, and was instantly snatched up by attending journalists.

The idea now seems to have a life of its own, and the North Carolina Association of Educators, an affiliate of the National Education Association, says its worth pushing. Said NCAE Executive Director John Wilson, who soon becomes the executive director of the NEA: "We think it's doable and affordable, and it sends a tremendous message of respect and value to the teachers of North Carolina."

—Jeff Archer

Vol. 20, Issue 3, Page 21

Published in Print: September 20, 2000, as State Journal

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