N.C. Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue toured WCU’s Center for Applied Technology with Chancellor John Bardo, board of trustees Chairman Steve Warren and others during a visit to campus Saturday, April 1.
In a speech later in A.K. Hinds University Center, Perdue said the career-focused education that Western offers is necessary to compete successfully in a global economy. “I don’t know what you think of the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee across the mountains, but they are not your competition,” she said. “Your competition is any country around the globe.”
She cited, specifically, India and China, where corporations are outsourcing high-tech jobs. Perdue, who holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Florida and worked for a time as a public school teacher, said 40 percent of all ninth graders will drop out of school and their potential will be wasted. The only way to reverse that loss of “human capitol” is with greater support for public schools and public school teachers, she said.
Perdue said she is strongly in favor of increasing teacher pay in North Carolina to the national average or above.
“My goal is to be sure we create different kinds of schools, different learning environments, so that students can compete with a new set of skills…. Our people are our greatest resource, if given the tools. And those tools start in the classroom.”
Elected lieutenant governor in 2000, Perdue was re-elected in 2004. Prior to that, she served as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly with two terms in the House and five terms in the Senate.
Perdue’s visit to Western was sponsored by WCU ‘s department of political science and public affairs, and Public Policy Institute, and two area women’s political groups.