Marc Porter Magee Ph.D is the CEO and founder of 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

I hope you enjoyed the Fourth of July celebrations in your home state last week. It’s the quintessential American holiday, one that John Adams once wrote should be marked by “bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to another.” But it’s also a time to reflect on the principles that anchor this nation, the incredible distance we’ve traveled as a society since 1776 and the sobering work ahead if we’re serious about making good on the age-old promise of equal opportunity for all.

So, it’s with a special sense of pride that I announce 50CAN’s seventh state chapter—CarolinaCAN: The North Carolina Campaign for Achievement Now. No promise is more American than giving every kid the same fair shot at a bright future through our public school classrooms, and I am thrilled that we are partnering with incredible local leaders in the state where I was born to move us closer to that promise.

Learn more about CarolinaCAN and its plans to help North Carolina kids—first by making 2013 the “Year of the Teacher” and advancing smart policies to support, recognize and retain outstanding educators.

Leading CarolinaCAN is Executive Director Julie Kowal, a national education policy expert who was born and raised in the Tar Heel State, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and earned her law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For nearly 10 years Julie has worked with some of the most successful nonprofit, government and school leaders to strengthen education for kids across America. Most recently, Julie worked in a senior leadership role for the education policy and consulting firm Public Impact, which is based in North Carolina but solves problems across the country. At the helm of CarolinaCAN, Julie is finally working full-time to support great schools for children in the place she calls home.

She’s not leading the charge alone. Julie has the support of eight independent, nonpartisan organizations dedicated to top-notch schooling: The Gaston and Charlotte KIPP networks, the Charlotte chapter of New Leaders, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, Project L.I.F.T., Public Impact, and Teach for America chapters in Charlotte and Eastern North Carolina. The coalition has been working together for more than a year to build a strong foundation for the launch of CarolinaCAN.

And at CarolinaCAN, we know that North Carolina public schools can be an engine for empowerment and equality if we can get our educational policies right.

Despite a proud history of student achievement, the truth is the Tar Heel State has plateaued—with little overall progress and large achievement gaps, according to CarolinaCAN’s inaugural State of North Carolina Public Education report.

Today CarolinaCAN begins its work, in earnest, to help usher in a new era for North Carolina public education so that all kids can get the great education they deserve. Because while fireworks can illuminate our skies for one day a year, great schools light a fire in the minds of our children that will never be extinguished.


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