The State of Schools: A Legislative Paradigm Shift

By: Hilda Kolawole

Children are the future of this country and education is the tool by which citizens will ensure a better future for their prosterity. The NC education system, unfortunately, is experiencing a steady decline in funding and overall quality. Members of legislature and their current anti-public education ideology have received much of the public’s blame. This ideology sees public schools as ineffective and that private school vouchers and charter schools allow more student choices and less reliance on public schools. North Carolina currently has a majority of right wing leaders, which would explain why public school funding has steadily been diverted to non-public institutions.   

It is important to understand where North Carolina public officials stand on education. Senator Burr voted “No” for multiple bills that would support funding for different types of public education routes. Burr voted “No” on an additional $10.2 billion for federal education. He also voted “No” for shifting $11 billion from corporate tax loopholes to education. Burr explains his position saying “Providing our students with a quality education is essential to their future success and to the continued competitiveness of our nation in the global economy. However, it has been proven that a one-size-fits-all approach handed down from the federal government does not work.”

Republican ideology, which motivates leaders like Burr, focuses on the defunding of public schools, opting for privatized, specialized schools and programs. This can be seen in the rise of charter schools since the North Carolina legislature lifted the cap on the amount of charter schools in 2011. On top of that, leaders are pushing for online classes which would eliminate the need for textbooks and cut down expenses. That’s not the only thing that right wingers want to eliminate; teacher assistants in elementary school classrooms are under fire as well. The 2015 Education budget can only fund 15,300 teacher assistants, which is 7,200 less than in 2008.

If the Education budget has risen 60 million from 2008 to now, why has North Carolina dropped from 25th to 46th in the six years? The rise in budget also raises questions on why the state is trying to cut teacher assistants and why per pupil expenditure has dropped as well.  

Are NC senators and governors really doing all they can for education? What are other states doing that they’re not? Where is public education funding really going? What will children do if their tools are being slowly pulled out of their hands?