The Republican governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, delivered his first State of the State speech last night. What he didn’t say was probably more important than what he did say. Without his pied piper Bill Bennett to lead him down the well-worn road to the culture wars (see the posting below “Trashing Liberal Education in North Carolina ) McCrory stuck to his business-friendly agenda, and steered clear of his plans to convert the University of North Carolina into training camps for entry level jobs.
When he sketched out that plan in his interview with Bennett on Fox, a firestorm broke out – newspaper editorials, letters, op ed pieces and a petition that quickly got more than 12,000 signatures. Tail between his legs McCrory backed off. Will he come back to his plan and try to resuscitate it? Maybe, but his burns should tell him that he had rashly grabbed hold of the third rail of North Carolina politics –the affection people of this state feel for their university.
That does not necessarily mean that the citizenry of North Carolina is equally supportive of “a liberal arts education,” but the governor let the his ideas sound like “roundhouse criticism of liberal arts education,” as Rob Christensen of the Raleigh News and Observer put it.. Much of the criticism directed against him has been expressed in similar terms. Maybe that will be a warning to other politicians to think twice before they try to substitute job training for education.