A North Carolina judge is giving state lawmakers until mid-October to fully fund a plan for improving public education or else he’ll take direct action.
Last week, Superior Court Judge David Lee (Republican) stated that he was “very disheartened” that the proposed budgets of the state House and Senate are funding a small part of what is needed to provide a sound basic education for North Carolina students.
- In the landmark Leandro v. State decision over two decades ago, the Supreme Court of North Carolina affirmed the fundamental right of every child to have access to a sound basic education. The courts also ruled that North Carolina was not meeting this state constitutional requirement.
- Since then, courts have been pushing the state to comply — most recently with a comprehensive plan signed and ordered by Lee.
- Yet, in both GOP-led budgets, leaders failed to include the $5.6 billion spending plan that would take steps in meeting the unfulfilled constitutional obligation. In addition, GOP leaders chose tax cuts for the rich over giving decent wages to educators, fixing school infrastructures and funding classrooms with the billions in available funds.
With a statewide bus driver shortage, teacher shortage and parents supplying classrooms, the long-term effects caused by Republicans underfunding schools and underpaying educators is rearing its head.
By continuing to violate the constitutional rights of students, Republican lawmakers are signaling that they are fine with denying students the quality education necessary to succeed, refusing well trained and properly paid teachers in every classroom, disregarding bus drivers, nurses, counselors and other personnel in schools, and ignoring local schools’ need for adequate resources.
As an editorial puts it: “It is unclear why legislative leaders are continuing to deny students with the education they’re owed. Nor is it clear why they would spark a constitutional crisis just to deny students the resources necessary to succeed. But that is the path legislative leaders have taken. And that – not any legal theory – is the real crisis facing North Carolina’s schools”.