Source: News & Observer
North Carolina schools are facing a double crisis thanks to the failure of state Republicans to fund public education and pay teachers and staff a fair wage.
Because of the NCGOP’s refusal to do what they know needs to be done, schools in North Carolina are facing a major teacher and staff shortage, and more than 800 high-poverty schools have been underfunded and lack the same resources as other, more wealthy schools, according to The News & Observer.
For anyone who has children in school in the Tar Heel state, the teacher and staff shortage is likely very clear to see. But to put numbers to it, there are at least 11,297 teacher and staff vacancies in North Carolina schools, according to superintendents from 98 of the state’s 115 school districts, a survey showed. The real number is higher because 17 districts didn’t report their shortages.
Regardless of the type of job, one of the most obvious solutions to a staff shortage is to incentivize getting qualified employees through the door and into a job. Implementation of the Leandro school funding case, which was filed in 1994 and involved five poor, rural school districts that needed more funding, is what will help fix this problem. Unfortunately, in the 28 years since the case went to court, the problem has spread statewide because of Republican leaders who have refused to put the plan into action – a plan that would provide billions of dollars to fix the educational system here, including improving teacher and staff pay, fixing the crumbling infrastructure and making sure every district gets the funding they need.
North Carolina Republicans like to pretend that they can’t possibly put the Leandro plan into action because our state simply doesn’t have the money. That is a straight-up lie. North Carolina has $6 billion in unused revenue sitting in a “rainy day fund” that Republicans in the legislature have so far refused to touch in order to fund the plan, despite being ordered to do so. Instead of paying teachers and improving schools, Republicans have cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy.
The actions of North Carolina Republicans may make some think that they are anti-education, but the reality is that they’re anti-public education. Though they don’t care about funding public schools, the NCGOP happily trots out its leadership to tout the party’s support for education and what they call “school choice,” which is just code for “we’re going to under-fund public schools and use that money to the benefit of private and charter schools.”
The state Supreme Court listened to arguments in the Leandro case in late August and the decision of the court regarding the implementation of the plan will likely not be known for months, until after the midterm elections. The future of education and many other important issues in North Carolina, such as abortion rights and redistricting, is now in the hands of the court, a potentially terrifying prospect if Republicans retake the majority this fall.