Alumnus Todd Warren fights for future of NC public education

“It’s a battle for (the public’s) hearts and minds,” said Todd Warren ‘96 on the recent changes to North Carolina’s public education policy. “We’ve already won their hearts. Now, we need to make sure that what the legislature and General Assembly have already done remains exposed so that we can address those issues.”

Thankfully, Warren has experience when it comes to defending public education in North Carolina.

After graduating from Guilford College, he began working with local organizations to address issues such as redistricting and the growing achievement gap. Through these organizations, Warren quickly found himself drawn into the world of education.

“There was a big redistricting fight in North Carolina around 1998,” said Warren. “That’s where I got involved — my first teaching job was actually in Winston in 1999.”

Even when faced with the recent flood of changes regarding teacher pay, per-pupil funding and private education, Warren’s commitment to protecting North Carolina. public education has not wavered.

He’s now a important member of a social justice caucus of the North Carolina Association of Educators, Organize 2020.

“Organize 2020 is basically a group of educators across the state working to build grassroots campaigns to support public education and teachers,” said Warren. “We’re building a campaign to defend and transform public education. … We want the funding attacks, professional attacks on teachers, and educational attacks on students to stop and rather, transform. We don’t think public education is the best that it could be.”

Warren has been working tirelessly to help promote this new campaign, from writing op-eds for the Northwest Observer to giving speeches to local groups, such as The League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad, and Aim Higher NC, a group working to raise N.C. teacher salaries.

Unfortunately, the issues that plague North Carolina’s public education system are the not type that can be solved merely with public support and a few short months of protesting.

“The real value of education is being missed because of ideas like No Child Left Behind,” said EducateUS Online Tutoring Coordinator Dylan Caskie. “It’s cheaper for the state to just push a kid through high school than it is to actually motivate them to get excited about learning.”

“We can’t just be worried about singular issues like teacher pay,” said Warren. “We have to take into account the struggles of our students, our parents, the low wage workers. Right now, one in four kids in our classrooms live in poverty. Poverty is the single biggest issue we face without a structural way to address it. Having one in four kids in poverty is shameful. We need to be able to say that and make that an educational issue, because it is.”

Fortunately, Warren knows that his work is far from over.

“It takes a lot more to put things back together than it does to rip things asunder like they’re done now,” said Warren. “We’re not Organize 2014. 2020 is our estimation for how long it will actually take.”