The COVID-19 pandemic has completely uprooted any semblance of normalcy in nearly every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, North Carolina has seen the rise of a loud, but small faction of borderline extremists calling for the erasure of LGBTQ+ experiences and Black history.
Mecklenburg County history teacher Ayanna Perry, who’s been teaching for five years, initially went into teaching to inspire students of color, specifically Black students, with her love of history. But the recent influx of discussion and criticism of CRT, banned books, and LGBTQ+ erasure has taken away the opportunity for her students to see themselves represented in history and gain a deeper understanding of how they fit into the fabric of American identity, all because these topics are often seen as too “uncomfortable” or “ugly” for kids to hear about.
“I know with social studies now, people are pushing this American identity and how proud we should be of being American. You can’t teach that if people don’t see themselves. You can’t push patriotism if people don’t see themselves or their ancestors in it.”
Perry went on to point out, “social studies isn’t supposed to make you feel good. You gotta talk about those hard things even if they hurt because that’s the only way we can look at where we are and where we need to go, so our future generations don’t have to deal with the mistakes of our past.”
Despite what right-wing extremists are claiming, most parents don’t see topics such as Black history or LGBTQ+ awareness as harmful elements in their child’s education, and these calls for erasing diversity have been taking valuable attention away from real problems in North Carolina schools, such as the egregious lack of funding our public schools receive.
Under the Leandro plan, Mecklenburg County alone would receive an additional $278.1 million. For helping at-risk and disadvantaged students, there would be a 244% increase in funding, going from $31.6 million to $108.8 million. By providing more instructional support personnel, Mecklenburg County’s funding would increase from $52.3 million to $115.1 million. Funding for textbooks and resources, teacher assistants, and much more would dramatically improve as well.
Implementing Leandro would, without a doubt, improve the quality of education in Mecklenburg County schools. The problem lies with the NC GOP; it seems that any time there’s a chance Leandro could be implemented, a North Carolina Republican always manages to get in the way.
The best way to get the funding our schools desperately need is to get out and vote, especially in school board races. The Mecklenburg County Board of Education will have six open seats on the ballot in November, and candidate filing begins in July. Voting for candidates who show that they are committed to advocating for the implementation of Leandro is vital; as is choosing candidates who have demonstrated commitment to including, recognizing, and supporting all students, including LGBTQ+ and students of color.
For election and voting information, visit the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website.