For more than two decades, North Carolina has systematically violated the constitutional rights of its children by failing to provide a sound basic education as enshrined in the infamous state Supreme Court ruling in Leandro v. State.
In the latest state Senate and House budgets, lawmakers have continued their streak in failing to meet the constitutional mandate and ensuring every child has the opportunity to receive a quality education. While several educators are resorting to great lengths to supply their classrooms, Republican legislative leaders chose tax cuts for the rich over ensuring North Carolina meets its constitutional obligation in the latest budgets.
These same legislators are backing Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s controversial effort to censor teachers and assert his own control on how students are taught, while ignoring crumbling school infrastructures, inadequate funding and the wave of teachers leaving the state due to low pay.
- In both GOP-led budgets, leaders failed to allocate $5 billion in unreserved funds and additional $6.5 billion in tax revenues that are available to meet current needs around the state — such as the $5.6 billion spending plan that would take steps in meeting the unfulfilled Constitutional obligation to provide every student with a sound basic education.
- In terms of raises, Republicans fell short in meeting Gov. Cooper’s proposed raises for NC teachers and state employees — choosing to give $120,000 to Lt. Gov. Robinson for an “education advisor” position over paying teachers and state employees a decent wage.
The makeup of both chamber’s budgets signals a disregard for students, educators, hardworking North Carolinians’ and families who have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.
The unfortunate reality is that GOP leaders within the legislation have just become a part of the Trumpism echo chamber of self-interest rather than leaders who are empowered to enact meaningful and long-lasting changes to ensure that communities across our state can recover and thrive.
It’s time for GOP leaders to stop peddling false outrage for political gain. Schools need funding, educators need a decent wage and our students are entitled to a quality education that has been denied for over 27 years — do your job.
As the first few weeks of school begin, we are reminded by how important investing in our children, schools and communities is.
When thinking about ways to get our students back on track and our communities back to normalcy, our leaders must consider passing a state budget that isn’t about them — but is about North Carolina and the future generations that will benefit from making equitable investments now.