Commentary

The two best editorials of the weekend blast legislature’s attacks on education and balance of powers

Major North Carolina papers blasted the North Carolina’s General Assembly yet again over the weekend.

On Saturday, the Winston-Salem Journal said this about the latest cuts at the Department of Public Instruction in “Legislature undermines education again”:

When it comes to the state’s education system, Republican legislators sometimes talk a good game, like earlier this year when they boasted about raising teacher salaries. But these singular actions seem to be made only under duress and are isolated from any commitment to improve education overall. To put it another way, the left hand giving the raise doesn’t want us to notice the right hand that’s firing teacher assistants, eliminating teacher benefits and cutting funding to repair crumbling school buildings and replace out-of-date textbooks.

Despite what seems like a haphazard method of handling the state’s educational needs, we can’t help wondering if some legislators aren’t secretly devoted to eliminating the concept of public education — which is mandated by our state constitution — and replacing public schools with private charter schools, which are often exempt from public school standards of accountability and sometimes practice discriminatory policies.

The legislature owes every student in the state a sound basic education. Its members should be working to give them even more.

Our students need and deserve the best education we can give them — not just to prepare them for jobs that pay well, but to provide them with the resources to be good citizens and to promote rewarding inner lives. Providing such an education is certainly more practical in the long run than another round of tax cuts for corporations.

Meanwhile, the Wilmington Star-News said this about the General Assembly’s constitutional amendment power grab in “Attempted power-grab in Raleigh is plain un-American”:

“One amendment would strip the governor of his power to fill court vacancies. Then there’s the separation of powers case. Hidden in an amendment to reshape the state elections board is a provision that the legislature “shall control the powers, duties, responsibilities, appointments and terms of office of any board or commission prescribed by general law.”

That would include not just the elections board, but also the Utilities Commission, Board of Transportation, Environmental Management Commission and most everything else. The governor appoints those members now.

This would be a huge usurpation of power and would knock important checks even further out of balance. It would almost certainly require the legislature to be in perpetual session (increasing the Honorables’ pay and emoluments, perhaps)….

Yes, it’s goodbye to those pesky checks and balances our founders cherished.

We cannot tolerate this. It flies smack in the face of the spirit and wisdom of everything we celebrated last Wednesday. Wise North Carolina voters should vote ‘No’ on this one.”

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