The Importance of Public Education

Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., discusses the importance of having public universities and colleges for everybody and making them excellent, and this he credits as the main source of progress in North Carolina.

Interview on 2012-05-29


00:00:00.000 Well my experience as a student at NC State informed me and broadened my interest in the world. It made me aware of how things work in terms of the economy,
00:00:34.879 particularly in agriculture and education and economics, areas where I guess I got an education, a major.
00:00:46.226 Through student government it helped me develop skills in developing relationships and partnerships. In the teaching and the readings and so forth I developed knowledge,
00:01:18.488 I got interested, and I became inspired. I would also say that I became aware of the importance of higher education.
00:01:27.666 When people think about it it’s generally in college that you get these new thoughts. It isn’t just the same old stuff you knew, everybody knew it.
00:01:40.974 You’ve discovered new ideas: Well what are they doing over there in China? What’s the effect of certain policies that some people are for?
00:01:51.756 What’s the injustice of segregation and racial discrimination? How does a human being develop? What’s going on in his earliest years? Is that important?
00:02:03.768 What are you going to do about it? Of course at NC State I formed some of the most important friendships and partnerships that I’ve ever had and that have enabled me to have a great team,
00:02:19.750 a great organization, perhaps–some people say–the best political organization in the history of the state thus far. But I think nothing is more important in college,
00:02:40.630 in higher education, than becoming inspired to do what’s right, what is good, and that happened to me at NC State and it happened in part because I did take a lot of those liberal arts courses.
00:02:59.179 It wasn’t just, you know, what’s the theory, something you work out with math–and that’s critically important–
00:03:14.770 but it’s also what’s right and what’s wrong and what’s the effect and how can you do things better, and what does what you believe require you to do and to be,
00:03:35.348 and what opportunities do you have and how can you extend those to other people. So I will always be deeply indebted to NC State,
00:03:47.161 all the people who created the university originally and built it and continue to support it, and there’s some people that don’t understand
00:03:58.151 about public universities and public schools and public early childhood education and support for it.
00:04:03.187 We have to educate those people and we have to keep working at it. We’ve made immense progress and we’ve done it in large measure
00:04:16.868 because of our commitment to public education. Private institutions are important and I support them pretty strongly,
00:04:24.709 but it’s public education for everybody and making it excellent that I think has been the main source of our progress in North Carolina, and we’ve got to continue to do it.