Just weeks following the announcement of the state Supreme Court rehearing a redistricting case and a voter ID case, North Carolina Republicans are once again pushing for their newly elected Republican-majority high court to reconsider a decision: Leandro, the state’s long-running education case.
Last year, the former Democratic majority state Supreme Court ordered the state to transfer funds toward public education investments as designated in the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan.
The 4-3 ruling, back in November, found that violations were statewide in prior superior court proceedings and ordered the state to pay up, according to WRAL.
The Leandro Remedial Plan is a blueprint for the state to address its failure to ensure children across the state receive their constitutional right to a sound, basic education.
The plan puts a price tag on the long-term neglect public schools have undergone due to underfunding and lays out where adequate investments must be made such as improving access to educational programs and services, increasing access to early learning opportunities and special education resources, as well as supports like home visiting, child care subsidies, and salary supplement programs for early educators.
Despite educators, parents, advocates, and education experts beating the drum surrounding the impact of long-term neglect of public schools as teaching shortages and student mental health challenges increase, state Republicans have refused to fund the full plan.
“We should ask ourselves, why are they fighting this hard to keep those dollars away from our kids?” asked Angus Thompson, one of the original plaintiffs in the Leandro case, in an interview with Cardinal & Pine.
With the new Republican majority high court, groups are disappointed in Republican state lawmakers’ call to reconsider the case, which may lead to lower funding for school districts that need the critical investments the most.
“It is unconscionable that state officials are taking unprecedented steps to deny students less than one-fifth of what the Court has already determined they are constitutionally owed,” wrote Every Child NC, a group of local nonprofits that support the plan, in a statement. “Years two and three of the Leandro Plan only get us part of the way to having an education system that lives up to our Constitution. Our children deserve so much more than what these officials are seeking to deny.”