Weekend editorial pages spotlight conservative assaults on education

There were two new and great editorial page “must reads” this past weekend on the state’s education wars.

Number One was Gene Nichol’s fine essay in Raleigh’s News & Observer on the public school teachers who continue to fight for their children and profession despite the ongoing assault by state lawmakers.

“I think [teachers NaShonsda] Cooke, [Angela] Scioli and [Brendan] Fetters knew what they were signing up for. This path has never been strewn with rose petals. I know they didn’t expect, however, to be officially derided for their efforts. ‘The elephant in the room,’ Fetters explains, ‘is the constant claim that we are failing our students.’

The politicians who accuse them, of course, never go to their schools, never talk to the teachers. They do, though, ‘take away our teaching assistants, run good teachers off to other states, give us bigger classes, cut our budgets and disparage our schools,’ Cooke says.

It’s not lost on teachers of high-poverty children that all the current political energy is directed toward vouchers and charter schools, draining already inadequate resources. They “evaluate us on matters outside of our control,” Cooke says, “pronounce us broken, and then make it tougher to do our work.”

Cooke’s own daughter attends one of the high-poverty Durham schools receiving an F on the state’s new scorecard. ‘I know the greatness of what they do in that school. I’d never move her,’ Cooke says. She gets angry when her daughter’s teachers are maligned by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

It’s one thing, I suppose, to wage war on public education. It’s another to shamelessly defame in the process.”

You can read the rest by clicking here.

Essay #2 comes from the Greensboro News & Record and it takes down the absurd an inappropriate partisanship that marked the firing of UNC President Tom Ross (which has been confirmed recently in emails released to N.C. Policy Watch and other news outlets). As the N&R Notes:

“The indication of misguided and unfair partisan attitudes toward Ross raises concerns about the next president. The Board of Governors won’t serve the people of the state well if it limits its choices to only Republican candidates.

Republican legislators certainly want the UNC system to operate at less cost to taxpayers. They’ve been giving it less money, continuing a trend that began under Democrats during the recession. Ross managed the system through declining budgets.

This has made it necessary to raise tuition, threatening access for students of limited means. It also puts the quality of public higher education at risk. A strong UNC system is an asset for the entire state, and the next president and every chancellor should push for adequate public support for the work of the university. They should fight for low tuition so that the doors of higher education are open to everyone. They should seek adequate salaries for professors and staff members. They should demand state-of-the-art facilities. They should insist that North Carolina maintain one of the best public university systems in the country.

Anything less won’t serve the best interests of this state or its people. Anyone who is comfortable with less should not lead the UNC system.

Partisan politics shouldn’t be part of the equation.”

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