Report: NC’s effort to fund public education is worst in the country; Republicans deserve blame

Report: NC’s effort to fund public education is worst in the country; Republicans deserve blame

A recent report from the Education Law Center places North Carolina at the bottom of the list when it comes to funding PK-12 public schools across all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The report, titled Making the Grade, ranks North Carolina at 48th overall for the amount of funding given to public schools and 50th for funding efforts. North Carolina ranks a somewhat respectable 19th for funding distribution.

North Carolina has a cost-adjusted, per-pupil funding level of $10,791 – $4,695 below the national average –  which ranks 48th in the country. In addition, only 2.32% percent of the state’s GDP goes to support public schools, which ranks 50th in the U.S.

North Carolina’s paltry public education funding also means there’s a lack of money available for children with special needs. Funding currently gets capped at 13% of a district’s enrollment, no matter how many students are in need of exceptional children services.

There are approximately 200,000 students in North Carolina who require special education services and most of the state’s 115 school systems have identified more than 13% of students in need of those services.

If a district needs more funding for special needs programs than what the state gives them then they must rely on local funding – and that doesn’t always work out, especially for more rural districts.

North Carolina currently has a shortage of teachers, especially those who are licensed to teach special education classes.

The solution to these issues is actually quite simple: Fully fund the Leandro Program. State courts have ordered the legislature to do it and the idea also has support from State Board of Education members of both parties. The Leandro Plan doesn’t have support from Republicans in the General Assembly. That stance makes it clear that Republicans are responsible for North Carolina’s educational system failures.

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Patrick Zarcone

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