June St. Clair Atkinson was elected North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction on November 3, 2004, in a race that was decided by the North Carolina General Assembly on August 23, 2005. She was re-elected in 2008 and 2012. Dr. Atkinson is the first woman to be elected to the post of State Superintendent.
As State Superintendent, Dr. Atkinson organizes and manages the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), and is secretary and Chief Administrative Officer of the North Carolina State Board of Education. She is also an ex offico member of the North Carolina Council of State.
Early life and education
Dr. Atkinson grew up in rural Bedford County, Virginia, where she attended public schools and graduated from Staunton River High School, Moneta, Virginia, in 1966. She received a B.S. in Business Education from Radford University in 1969, an M.S. in Vocational and Technical Education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1974, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from North Carolina State University in 1996. After graduating from Radford, Dr. Atkinson taught high school in Roanoke, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. In Charlotte, Dr. Atkinson's teaching assignment required that she work with business people to find meaningful employment for her students.
Dr. Atkinson worked for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for nearly 28 years (1976–2004) as a chief consultant and director in the areas of business education, career and technical education, and instructional services. A former business education teacher, Dr. Atkinson has been involved in instruction and curriculum development throughout her career.
Atkinson has made presentations to business and other educational groups in 43 states and throughout North Carolina. She is past president of the National Business Education Association, and past president of the Southern Regional Education Board's High Schools that Work in 1995-96 and 1996-97. Dr. Atkinson was elected by her colleagues to represent them as President of the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium for 2001-2003.
In 2009, Atkinson sued Gov. Beverly Perdue after the Governor appointed a Chief Executive Officer of the Public School-System, reducing Atkinson to an "ambassador for education." Atkinson contested under the North Carolina Constitution and a Wake County, North Carolina superior court judge ruled in her favor on July 17, 2009.
Ahead of the 2012 general election, Atkinson was endorsed by the News and Observer editorial board, which wrote: "Test scores among the state’s public school students have improved, and Atkinson, a Democrat, is a strong advocate for ample education resources. Wake County school board member John Tedesco, Atkinson’s Republican challenger, had yard signs with the slogan 'Our students deserve better.' Well, yes. Tedesco no doubt is sincere in wanting to see all students succeed, but his policies in Wake would have cut against the interests of students from poor backgrounds. He also has played a role in turning the Wake board into a partisan battleground in an effort to advance GOP fortunes."
Dr. Atkinson is married to Dr. William Gurley, a Cary, North Carolina orthodontist and former assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. She has one sister, two nephews and one niece. She is a member of The United Methodist Church.
- Official Page
- June Atkinson re-election campaign website
- North Carolina Democratic Party
- Controversy Regarding Atkinson's Position