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Timeline: Education in North Carolina

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WNCN is taking a special look at public education in North Carolina on Monday night at 7 p.m. Here's a timeline of key events in education in the state's history:

1795: The University of North Carolina becomes the first state university to open its doors when Hinton James arrives from Wilmington on Feb. 12, 1795.

1870: Public schools in North Carolina re-open after the Civil War, but the state faces significant challenges in educating its citizens – white and black – after the devastation of the Civil War. Statistics from 1886 put the total number of schools in the state at 3,443 for whites and 1,592 for "colored." Schools are in session for no more than 12 weeks.

1889: North Carolina State University opens in Raleigh as the state's university system continues to expand.

1900: Charles B. Aycock is elected governor of North Carolina. Aycock, who was born in Fremont in Eastern North Carolina, pushes hard to improve education across the state. At the time, there were 900 public school districts with no school houses. Getting funding for public schools at the time difficult – whites, in some cases, opposed using tax funds to build schools that would educate blacks.

During Aycock's four years as governor, North Carolina added about 1,100 schools. Aycock opposed separate education for students in "factory districts," believing it undemocratic, but did favor segregation.

A statue of Aycock pointing to a book is one of North Carolina's two statues in the U.S. Capitol.

1940s: Gov. J. Melville Broughton extends the public school year from six months to nine months and adds a 12th grade.

1954: On May 17, the Supreme Court announces the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, saying that separate is unequal. But integration is slow to happen in North Carolina, although the state doesn't have some of the dramatic showdowns seen in Little Rock, Ark., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.

1956: Bill Friday, who was only 36 years old, becomes the president of the UNC system. The soft-spoken but forceful Friday will be a powerful figure in North Carolina over the next six decades, arguing the value of the state's university system and the importance of education overall.

1960: On Sept. 9, the Murphey Elementary School in downtown Raleigh is integrated, becoming the first historically white school in Raleigh to admit a black student.

1993: Under Gov. Jim Hunt, North Carolina launches "Smart Start," an effort to make sure children under the age of 5 are prepared for school.

Oct. 12, 2012: Bill Friday dies on Oct. 12, the very day – University Day – the UNC system celebrated its 219th birthday.

Nov. 6, 2012: Pat McCrory defeats Democrat Walter Dalton to become Governor of North Carolina. He will inherit vast Republican majorities in both the Senate and House.

Funding for education was not a major topic of the three debates between the McCrory and Dalton.

Jan. 29, 2013: McCrory signals some possible major changes in how education is funded when he speaks on the talk show of conservative host Bill Bennett.

"I'm looking at legislation right now – in fact, I just instructed my staff yesterday to go ahead to go develop legislation – in which we change the basic formula in how educational monies are given out to our universities and our community colleges.

"Not based on how many butts in seats but how many butts can get jobs."

March 19, 2013: McCrory unveils a budget that includes a 1 percent raise for teachers.

The final state budget will not include a pay raise for teachers, or state employees. It includes significant cuts at the university level.

UNC system president Tom Ross says he is "very concerned by the magnitude of the new cuts proposed for our campuses."

Aug. 1, 2013: McCrory defends his budget for K-12 education at a speech in Chapel Hill. He says the K-12 budget of $7.8 billion is "the largest K- 12 budget in North Carolina history."

Progress NC promptly says McCrory "misled the public once again" and points to documents that show higher spending for education in 2007-08 and 2008-09.


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