North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed the “Excellent Public Schools Act” into law on Friday, April 9.

This was purported to be one of those controversial laws proposed by the Republicans in the legislature that might squeak through on a straight party-line vote.

Or that’s what some in the vast education bureaucracy in the state wanted people to believe.  The supposedly controversial portion of the law was to use the “Science of Reading” curriculum to teach reading, rather than the whole word method, which has been the predominant method used to teach reading in public schools in North Carolina.

The main difference from a layman’s perspective is that with the Science of Reading method students are taught to read using phonics.  With the whole word method, according to North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, students are taught words often with pictures, not based on letter sounds.

Although some in the education bureaucracy saw this as highly controversial, the North Caroline Legislature did not.  The Excellent Public Schools Act passed the state Senate on a 48-0 vote and passed the state House on a 113-5 vote.  Democrats and Republicans in Raleigh disagree on a huge number of issues, including education issues, but not on the teaching reading based on the Science of Reading.

The final hurdle for the bill to become law was Cooper signing the bill.  Cooper has vetoed bills that have passed the legislature with bi-partisan majorities and then had those vetoes upheld, but none with such overwhelming majorities in both the state House and Senate.

Truitt at the press conference about the bill said that recent testing data showed that, “Two-thirds of the 8thtgraders do not read proficiently when they enter high school.”

She also said, “Early literacy instruction is the guiding force behind why I wanted to run for this position and the work we are doing in the department right now.”

The state will use COVID-19 relief money to train pre-K-5 grade teachers on the Science of Reading method of teaching.