Amid calls for Republican leaders to increase public school funding, the Education Law Center’s Making the Grade 2021 annual report on school funding paints a clear picture of the impact of our state lawmakers’ repeatedly prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations over investments in education.
The data, based on North Carolina’s 2018-2019 school year, shows school funding in the state is among the lowest in the U.S., with grades of “F,” “C,” and “F” given out for funding level, funding distribution and funding effort.
- According to the report, North Carolina currently has one of the lowest funding levels in the nation — placing the state 47 out of 51 in spending per student. North Carolina’s cost-adjusted per-student funding level ($10,595) falls a whopping 43 percent short of the national average ($15,114).
- “What we see in North Carolina is that not only is their effort extremely low, but they have over the past 10 years just experienced an immense level of disinvestment. Pre-recession the effort was much higher and then there was a period at which the effort really just kind of tanked,” stated Danielle Farrie, Research Director at the Education Law Center.
For the past decade, North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders have failed in providing students with access to a sound, basic education. The result of their chronic neglect and underfunding is visible throughout our state, with school districts experiencing staff shortages, failing air conditioners, undrinkable water, crumbling buildings and more.
With lawmakers sitting on a $6.5 billion surplus, federal stimulus and relief funds, North Carolina can readily afford to cure the symptoms of persistent and chronic lack of state funding for our schools by making adequate and equitable investments as outlined in the Leandro Remedial Plan.
The blueprint has been created, the funding is readily available to execute the plan. Now it’s time for Republican leaders to make the right step forward in ensuring our students and educators receive the educational opportunities that they deserve.