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The best editorial of the weekend: Rucho’s education folly

N.C. Sen. Bob Rucho listens Friday to the UNC Board of Governors discuss closing down three centers. In case you missed it, the lead editorial in Sunday’s News & Observer provides another powerful takedown of the ongoing conservative war on public schools in North Carolina. The focus of the editorial is soon-to-be-retired Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County (pictured at left), who throughout his years in the General Assembly, has been one of the most combative and even belligerent defenders of the right-wing agenda.

As the editorial points out, Rucho is not only seemingly blind to the damage he and his colleagues have wrought, he’s aggressive in denying the obvious. To illustrate the point, the editorial juxtaposes a recent letter authored by Rucho with complaints of a veteran Raleigh high school teacher named Jasmine Lauer featured in a recent article.

In response to Lauer’s complaints that her salary is all but frozen in perpetuity and that she has to spend hundreds of dollars on supplies for her classroom, Rucho tries — we are not making this up — to provide a lecture on how the teacher must have benefited from GOP tax cuts. Here’s the excellent conclusion to the editorial:

“But Lauer’s main objection to Rucho’s letter wasn’t with her pay. It’s with the assumption that it’s OK that she should give some of it back to buy school supplies.

‘That’s backward thinking,’ she said. ‘I shouldn’t be spending my money so the state can provide a free public school education.’

Lauer estimates she has spent $400 this month on supplies. Some purchases are not essential, such as classroom decorations, but most goes for paper, pens, binders and other basic supplies. She said the school supply budget was cut during the recession and has not been restored. Money for textbooks is also scarce. In Lauer’s department, two classes can’t read the same novel. There aren’t enough copies. Students no longer take books home. Some students can afford to buy the books for themselves. Others can’t.

Lauer says the lack of books and learning materials is ‘further dividing the haves and the have-nots. It’s the opposite of what public education should be doing. It should erase the divide.’

It would be better if the governor and lawmakers would stop lecturing teachers about how good they have it and start listening and learning from them.

‘When push comes to shove, we go into our classrooms and do what we can for kids. We fill in the gaps,’ she says. ‘It would just be nice if the General Assembly would follow suit.'”

Amen.

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