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As Clayton Henkel notes below, the General Assembly returns to Raleigh today to override the Governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills dealing with immigrant workers and drug testing of public benefits applicants.

In response, the good folks at Public School First NC released a statement this morning that highlights what lawmakers ought to be doing now that they’re back in the Capital City:

PUBLIC SCHOOLS FIRST NC URGES LEGISLATURE TO REINSTATE FUNDS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
Despite Promises of Job Growth, Teaching Positions Cut Across North Carolina

Raleigh, NC—September 3, 2013— As the General Assembly convenes for a special session, Public Schools First NC urges legislators to acknowledge the drastic budget impacts already, affecting public education and to use this opportunity to restore funding. The predicted consequences of these cuts—the loss of teacher and teacher assistant positions, increases to class size, inadequate instructional supplies, and the trimming of special programs—comes on the heels of promises by elected officials to promote job growth. Read More

Today’s lead editorial in the Greensboro News & Record provides a civics lesson for conservative state House members trying to escape responsibility for the state’s declining commitment to public education:

“Stung by ‘outrageous claims’ that they cut school spending, N.C. House Republicans responded with a ‘fact sheet’ that blames cities and counties….

This is a dodge. In North Carolina, state funds cover the bulk of K-12 costs because the state constitution assigns responsibility to the legislature. Local governments are allowed to supplement state appropriations for school operating expenses but are not required to do so….

After terming the GOP claims a “shabby political strategy,” the editorial concludes this way:

“If Republican legislators want to shift that burden to local governments, they’ll have to rewrite the constitution.”

To which, all a body can say is: Don’t give these guys any ideas!

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Education cutsIt’s actually pretty remarkable that we even need a study to confirm something so obvious (What’s next? “Study confirms that days get longer in the summer and shorter in the winter”??) but a new study by the Economic Policy Institute does confirm once again what anyone with any common sense has long understood — namely, that investing in public education pays big dividends for states.

Here are the key findings — to which we can only wish Gov. McCrory, Art Pope and the General Assembly would pay attention: Read More

Graduation capsToday’s good news about North Carolina’s rising high school graduation rate serves to highlight several important facts that ought to be taken into account as the public and state leaders debate the future of our public schools. Here are five:

#1 – There are no “quick fixes” in a giant system like the North Carolina public schools. The latest encouraging numbers are no more the result of recent legislative actions than, say, improved traffic flow on the interstate highway system is. To improve outcomes in such massive systems takes sustained attention and investments over a period of many years.

#2- The new results are, therefore, quite clearly the result of many years of hard work by a lot of people. At the core of the success, however, was the widespread acknowledgement by virtually all stakeholders — elected officials, education leaders, business leaders, teachers, parents, advocates etc… — that the state had a big problem and that something had to be done.  The widespread acceptance and discussion of this fact led, over time, to more and more people talking about the problem and more and more people wanting and trying to do something about it.  Many ideas undoubtedly flopped, but over time, the cumulative effect of lots of creative thinking and sustained attention has born some excellent fruit.

#-3 - The work to improve graduation rates starts before a child even enters school. Read More

Education cutsThere’s so much spin coming out of the far right camp these days about North Carolina’s declining commitment to public education that you’d think the Loony Tunes Tasmanian Devil had developed their talking points. Or maybe it was David Copperfield or some other magician who specializes in making things disappear when you’re not watching.

Whichever the case, the whole thing would be downright laughable if it weren’t so sad and the cuts to the classroom weren’t so painful and unnecessary. After months of tearing down “government schools” and claiming they were “broken” and “failures” and “in need of competition from the private sector,” conservatives are suddenly falling all over themselves to profess their love for public schools and to claim that their plans for a radical education overhaul weren’t so radical after all.

As Chris Fitzsimon notes in today’s column: Read More