Last weekend I wrote that the Connect NC shell game has nothing for public schools, and I was mostly right. But let me set the record straight. There is, in fact, money allocated to the North Carolina School of Science and Math. It's for a $58 million “western campus” to be built in Morganton.
A campus not even the School itself wants.
If you know Morganton, you know it is not a shining star in the science and math universe. Which means this western campus will be completely isolated from North Carolina’s important research universities and from the industries needed for collaboration. Government is already the largest employer in town. The new western campus would tilt the scales even more in favor of public sector dependence. And here I thought those mountain men were all about free enterprise.
Nobody at NCSSM asked for this campus, and nobody wants it. The faculty and administration would much rather have $58 million to spend upgrading current facilities and technology.
Ask faculty members and all you'll get are heads shaking. Same with alumni. Not surprisingly, however, none of them would go on the record. "We're thrilled that the legislature thinks so highly of us," said one faculty member. "But why didn't they bother to ask us what we needed? It's hard to think of a less effective use of resources."
Among the reasons I oppose Connect NC, my lack of confidence in the governor and legislature tops the list. The fact that they're forcing a western campus on NCSSM, a campus that nobody wants, is a prime example of what I'm talking about.