Source: The Pulse
Last week attorneys filed an amicus brief endorsed by 144 education, civil rights, philanthropic, and community-based organizations to the North Carolina Supreme Court regarding the long-running Leandro case.
For over a decade, North Carolina public schools have been underfunded. State courts have ruled multiple times that the legislature must increase school funding to meet its constitutional obligation to provide a quality education to all students. In the most recent ruling, Superior Court Judge Michael Robinson ordered the legislature to increase education funding by $785 million, a ruling that the Republican-led legislature has ignored.
The brief urges the state Supreme Court to order the funds to be dispersed in order to comply with the previous rulings. It also contains further research on the shortfall of funds and its effects on education in the state.
According to The Pulse, the ways the coalition contends the shortfall in state funding is reflected in the current public education system:
- North Carolina’s per-pupil expenditure by state and local sources (adjusted for local costs) ranks 48th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, with $9,954 per pupil, an amount that is $4,594 less than the national average per pupil. South Carolina by comparison ranks 24th in the country with a per pupil expenditure of $14,090 and Virginia ranks 35th at $12,714 per pupil. In short, the amount available for local school districts to spend on public education is significantly less than the amount available to districts in neighboring states.
- The State is funding fewer teacher and teacher assistant positions on a per-student basis than it funded in the 2003-04 school year.
- Teacher compensation has declined since 2004. Had teacher pay maintained parity with inflation since 2004, average teacher pay would have been $61,033 in the 2020-21 school year. Instead, the actual average teacher pay was $53,458.
- North Carolina ranked 46th in the country for average salaries of instructional staff for the 2020-21 school year, significantly lower salaries than its neighbors: South Carolina’s average salary was $60,608 (30th in the U.S.) and Virginia’s was $60,880 (29th in the U.S.).
According to the most recent data (covering the years 2014 to 2018), North Carolina teachers earn 26.5 percent less than their similar-aged peers with college degrees, the 7th worst wage gap in the nation.