It’s been fascinating this week to listen to the state’s conservative political leadership try to spin the new graduation data released by education officials. Observers had to be careful not to get a case of whiplash from the 180 degree change in tone.
Here’s State Senate leader Phil Berger just three months ago in a statement that accompanied the release of his big “education reform” package:
“In order to fix our state’s broken education system, we must stop constantly reaching for our checkbook and focus on reforming our playbook.”
Got that? North Carolina’s education system was/is “broken.”
Compare that to the following statement sent out this week in a fundraiser by North Carolina House Republicans in response to the news that North Carolina’s high school graduation rate had exceeded 80%:
“Today’s graduation rate numbers prove that far-left Democrats are wrong on education. Our approach to education is working. “
And then there’s this statement from House Speaker Thom Tillis as reported by WRAL.com:
“For the first time, more than eighty percent of North Carolina’s high school students are graduating on time. This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our state’s students, parents, teachers, principals, and superintendents, and they are to be commended for their results.”
Wow! Quite a turnaround, no?
Here’s are two obvious truths on the matter:
1) North Carolina’s education system was and is not “broken.” It’s certainly flawed and/or threadbare in many places, but the conservative mantra of abject failure is, in a word, baloney. That’s why we don’t need to sell it off to religious institutions and for-profit vultures.
2) Improvements to a massive statewide public schools system take years to bring about. It’s like turning an aircraft carrier. Any positive changes we’re seeing in 2012 had their roots in reforms that were enacted years ago. The notion that budget cuts of the last couple of years helped spur improved graduation rates in 2012 is both laughable and transparently and painfully dishonest.