This is what the NC State Constitution states:
(1) General and uniform system: term. The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.
There is one thing that the current powers in the North Carolina General Assembly fear most.
It is not unclean water.
It is not a budget deficit.
It sure as hell isn’t climate change.
It’s not COVID-19.
It’s not even gerrymandered maps, although all of those weigh in the equation.
It is having a well-educated general public – one that would not allow current lawmakers to be in a position of power to continue to promote an agenda that absolutely favors a few over those they should be helping. And their actions over these last nine-plus years have been a recipe in ensuring their policies remain intact.
Many of those have been very apparent. There is the current debacle of gerrymandered legislative districts. Even the redrawn maps have shown a more-than-obsessive addiction to hold on to majorities in Raleigh.
There was a voter-ID law that was struck down in the judicial system. A determined effort to water down minority voices might have been one of the most open secrets in this state. The last voter ID law passed neber fully decided what ID’s it would accept.
But those unconstitutional actions coincided with other egregious acts that have weakened public education to a breaking point – one that makes every election cycle so very important. Those actions have been assaults on public schools coated with a layer of propaganda that keeps telling North Carolinians that we need to keep reforming public education.
Then there was the push to root out “indoctrination.” Glittering generalities abound about what has been happening in classrooms based on third person accounts through filtered biases lenses.
A law-making body that couldn’t even pass a budget for over three years and is about as transparent as a supermassive black hole in a far off galaxy wanted to make teachers post everything that might have had anything to do with coming up with a lesson plan. Remember this?
But this assault on having a well-educated general public has been happening for a long time in the name of “reform.”
What once was considered one of the most progressive public school systems in the South and the nation all of a sudden needed to be reformed? What necessitated that? Who made that decision? Look to the lawmakers who saw public education and the allotted budgeting for public education dictated by the state constitution as an untapped reservoir of money to funnel to private entities.
The public started to see test scores that appeared to be less than desirable even though what and who was being tested and the format of the testing was in constant flux.
The public started to see “school performance grades” that did nothing more than track how poverty affected student achievement. The “schools were failing” to actually help cover up what lawmakers were refusing to do to help people before they even had a chance to succeed in the classroom.
The teaching profession was beginning to be shaped by a business model that does not discern a public service from a profit minded investment scheme which changed a profession of professionals into one that favors short term contractors.
But there are two large indicators that voters in North Carolina should really pay attention to when it comes to the NCGA’s relentless pursuit to quell their fears of a well-educated general public – money spent per pupil and tuition costs to state supported universities.
Below is one of many different data tables that shows how willfully the NCGA has made sure to keep public schools from thriving (from the NC Justice Center’s July 2016 analysis) BEFORE THE PANDEMIC.
And how that per pupil expenditure truly affects schools becomes even clearer when you read reporting that clearly shows how funds are used (and stretched) by school systems.
Furthermore, resources get more expensive over time.
The Pew Research Center for U.S. Politics & Policy conducted a 2017 national survey on the attitudes on whether higher education has had a positive or negative effect on our country (http://www.people-press.org/2017/07/10/sharp-partisan-divisions-in-views-of-national-institutions/). It’s rather disturbing.
More disturbing is that it is not surprising. That trend is still happening in 2022.
Inside Higher Ed highlighted the Pew survey. Paul Fain in his report opened up with this:
“In dramatic shift, more than half of Republicans now say colleges have a negative impact on the U.S., with wealthier, older and more educated Republicans being least positive”(https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/07/11/dramatic-shift-most-republicans-now-say-colleges-have-negative-impact).
Might want to see who controls policy in Raleigh.
And those “wealthier, older, and more educated Republicans” who are in control in Raleigh have also enabled state-supported colleges and universities to become more expensive.
At the beginning of 2017 year, WUNC published a report called “Incoming UNC Students Likely To See Tuition Increase” (http://wunc.org/post/incoming-unc-students-likely-see-tuition-increase#stream/0). In it there is a data table that shows the steady and steep increase in tuition costs for UNC undergraduate resident tuition.
And yes, maybe we are still a bargain compared to other states, but that is an over 70% increase (over that span of time) which does not include housing, board, food, supplies, books, travel, and all of the other expenses sure to accompany a college experience.
Go see what it is in the 2022-2023 school year. It’s just gotten higher. I know. I have a daughter in a public university.
Is it supposed to make sense that rising tuition costs should accompany lower per-pupil expenditure in public secondary schools all the while boasting of a state surplus in a state that currently has racially gerrymandered legislative districts and an increased investment in a rather robust effort to privatize public schools?
Apparently “yes” to many in Raleigh.
Which is why they say “no” so often to people.