The NC General Assembly is Destroying Public Education

Indivisible AVL President Robin Lively Summers delivered the following remarks on education in NC at the July 1st WNC People’s Power Coalition Assembly in Asheville.

“I have been an educator for over 30 years.

“When I first became a teacher in California, I was told over and over how amazing North Carolina Public Education was. This state was a leader in best practices and student performance.

“Sadly, after the 1990s this general knowledge among teachers began to change. I heard about the budget cuts, the stagnant teacher pay and the long running lawsuit of Leandro vs. NC State alleging that students in poor rural counties were denied their right to a sound basic education under the N.C. Constitution.

“I was planning on moving to Asheville so I paid attention. Was the state I was looking to work in so biased and prejudiced? I was relieved when Leandro was litigated in favor of the students and the government was ordered to make and fund a plan to eradicate this discrimination. That order specifically sets the Leandro spending obligation at $510 million for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, $133.9 million for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, and $34.2 million for the University of North Carolina System.

“But then…

“The Republican-held legislature has argued, obstructed, and litigated this ruling proposing revisions that will reduce the outstanding Leandro spending obligation to as little as $376 million. At a time when the N.C. General Assembly had a funding surplus; they chose to put the money assigned to fund the Leandro Plan into the surplus rather than spend it to address the well-documented, immediate needs of North Carolina’s children and the public school system.

“We must Fund Leandro!!

“And another thing…

“The North Carolina House of Representatives moved to expand private school voucher eligibility to families of all incomes and spend nearly $400 million more annually on the vouchers in years to come — one of the biggest boosts in education dollars in years.

“The bill would divest from underfunded public schools and increase investment in a private landscape in which not all students are accepted. This includes allowing parochial schools access to public tax dollars.

“Where is the separation of church and state that my Methodist family is now paying for a Baptist education that forbids contraceptives and women’s rights?

“It is estimated that public schools would lose thousands of students to the private schools, costing them more than $200 million annually by the 2026-27 school year. This cannot be tolerated. Our public schools need more resources not less. If students are struggling in overpopulated and under-resourced schools then let’s make it so all North Carolinians have their state constitutional right to a sound basic education.

“We must fund our schools!!”