When Governor Jim Hunt was in office, he was a national leader on behalf of improving education. He advocated for higher teacher salaries, he advocated for early childhood education, and he took pride in the steady improvement in North Carolina during his tenure.

Now he runs the Hunt Institute, which has been active in teaching governors across the nation about education issues.

I was a member of the board of the Hunt Institute for a few years (I left in 2009), and I was impressed by Governor Hunt’s sincere concern for public education and his gracious style of interacting with others.

Just recently, he wrote an editorial calling on the Legislature to raise the salaries of teachers in North Carolina, as he did in his time, so that they met the national average (NC now ranks 46th in the nation).

That was a good thing to do, but Governor Hunt said nothing about the giant wrecking ball that the far-right Legislature has taken to public education and to the teaching profession. He didn’t mention the Legislature’s rapid expansion of privately managed charters, many of which will have for-profit companies running them; he said nothing about vouchers for religious schools and home-schooling; he said nothing about the Legislature taking away stipends for graduate degrees or about the appropriation of $6 million for Teach for America at the same time that the budget for the NC Teaching Fellows program was cut, or about any of the other bills passed with the intention of humbling teachers.

Please, Governor Hunt, speak up for the teachers. Speak up for the children. Speak up for public education. You are such a respected figure in the state. Your voice can make a difference.