Public Schools First NC is a statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused solely on pre-K–12 public education issues. We collaborate with parents, educators, business and civic leaders, and communities across North Carolina to advocate for one unified system of public education that prepares every child for productive citizenship.
Our Goal is to educate and inform North Carolinians about the critical public education issues that affect our schools, our teachers, and our students and to engage all stakeholders in supporting one unified system of high-quality public education.
Our Vision is for NC to have an inclusive, fair, innovative and accountable public education system that nurtures and prepares each child for success in school and life.
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.” John Adams, President of the United States (1797-1801)
Our Belief is that strong public schools are essential for strengthening our economy and maintaining the vitality of our communities, they are truly the foundation of the American dream and the cornerstone of our democracy. Public education cultivates the next generation of thoughtful and engaged citizens and it embodies one of the most fundamental ideals of the American dream: equality of opportunity. The basis of equality of opportunity is belief that every American child, no matter the circumstances of his or her background, deserves a fair start in life.
We believe that public education can give even the poorest child a chance to excel through adequate resources, opportunity and the nurturing guidance of excellent teachers. Public schools take all children who enter their school doors and provide them with an education, regardless of their race or their parents’ income or where they live.
We believe that with adequate resources and excellent teachers, public schools are the best places to promote student growth and academic achievement. They can offer a robust curriculum that can help each child realize their full potential. Our public schools also bring communities together and are often the only place where different kinds of people come together with a shared purpose.
We believe that effective public schools benefit everyone—from the students they serve to the businesses that recruit well-educated graduates to the taxpayers who benefit when well-prepared students graduate and give back to the community. We believe that when a society educates its citizens, it preserves its democracy and fuels a vibrant economy. Every member of society needs the necessary skills to fully participate in the constitutional freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We believe that our forefathers were correct in recognizing that talent and ingenuity were not to be found exclusively among a narrow class of citizens, but could be found anywhere. Public schools, in opening their doors to all, would cast the widest net and foster the greatest progress, both for individual Americans and for our country as a whole. Indeed, the history of public education in the United States is a testament to what is possible when we invest in the next generation. The expansion of access to public education throughout the 19th and 20th centuries brought a marked increase in economic prosperity.
We believe that in addition to the economic benefits of a well-educated workforce, there are continued civic benefits from public education. Public schools arguably comprise the one institution of our society that still knits us together as a community and binds us in a set of shared values. Public schools honor and celebrate diversity, but do so in a way that also honors the common good—the values, interests, and dreams we have in common.
Public schools seek not to splinter us into enclaves of difference, but to bring us together in a shared sense of purpose and pride in being an American.
Our Work Supports
- Adequate, equitable funding for all school districts that meets or exceeds the national per pupil average.
- Programs and compensation that encourages recruitment, preparation, support, and retention of professional, experienced educators. We support attracting and retaining the best teachers by:
- Paying teachers fairly
- Providing teachers ongoing access to professional development resources
- Rewarding teachers for experience and advanced degrees
- Giving teachers reasonable class sizes and manageable workloads
- Evaluating teachers fairly using a variety of tools, not just on student test scores
- Restoring instructional assistants (grades K-3) to allow one-on-one instructional time
- Provide high-quality textbooks, technology, and other instructional supplies
- Provide high quality pre-school to help all children start school “kindergarten ready”
- Increase significantly scholarships/fellowships in all fields of education to attract new teachers to the profession including school debt forgiveness programs
- Allowing career status and due process rights for all educators
- Racially and economically integrated public schools.
- Using public tax dollars to fund public (not private) education. End school vouchers.
- Operating charter schools that meets the intent of the original 1996 enabling legislation, holding charters to the same transparency and accountability as traditional public schools, and empowering local school boards with the ability to create charters under their elected governance.
- Access to high-quality pre-school, so each child comes to school “kindergarten ready.”
- Providing resources that mitigate the impact of poverty on a child’s academic success.
- Promoting excellent educational environments that are built on partnerships between schools, families, teachers, and communities
- Implementing and funding of a well-rounded and innovative curriculum
- Programs and policies that provide a safe and equitable learning environment including restorative justice approaches and other programs that protect LGBTQ Youth and all types of bullying and discrimination
Our History started when we launched in February 2013 as North Carolina’s only statewide non-profit, grassroots organization focused exclusively on pre-K – 12 public education. Public Schools First NC originated from a group of public education advocates who supported effective, diverse, and well-funded public schools in Wake County. These concerned community leaders and parents first gathered in December of 2009 in a Raleigh church basement to organize a response to threats to Wake’s nationally recognized school system. They would go on to form the Great Schools In Wake Coalition, a grassroots advocacy organization with the mission of providing “accurate information to educate the public about policy initiatives that would impact the quality of education, to foster well-informed discussions about critical education issues, and to advocate for policies that improve public education in Wake County.”
Within a year of GSIW forming, it was clear that a statewide organization was needed to advocate for the same principles all across that state. Great Schools in Wake is now a special project of Public Schools First NC.
Our work includes researching and analyzing information for numerous fact sheets about critical issues facing public education such as private school vouchers, charter schools, pre-K education, and A-F school performance grades, as well documenting and analyzing the impact of annual budget allocations on the classroom. We follow the General Assembly closely during and between legislative sessions reporting out legislative actions. During session, we provide a weekly summary of key bills (Legislative Updates) and publish a weekly newsletters along with daily updates on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) to keep North Carolinians and the media informed about important developments affecting public schools.
We present a variety of informational outreach activities throughout the community on topics such as legislative updates, analysis of critical issues impacting our public schools including a film series to educate citizens about these critical issues that impact our students and teachers. We regularly conduct live webinars with educational leaders across North Carolina. These webinars are recorded and presents on our YouTube channel. If you would have like us to present to your organization, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Future work will stay focused on ensuring that NC has a unified, equitable system of high-quality public schools that will prepare each child for life. The work we do is a labor of love, but we need resources to accomplish our goals. You can help by making a tax-deductible donation.