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Cooper, parties in Leandro case taking steps forward to help state meet education requirements

The News & Observer is reporting today that the parties in the landmark education case Leandro v. North Carolina have agreed to nominate an independent consultant to come up with a specific plan to improve North Carolina’s education system.

The agreement announcement was made Monday on the 20th anniversary of the state Supreme Court’s first ruling in the case, when it declared that the State Constitution guarantees every child “an opportunity to receive a sound basic education,” according to the article.

“After two decades of litigation, the plaintiff school districts and the state agreed to nominate an independent, “non-party” consultant to the court by Oct. 30, or, if they can’t agree on one, they’ll nominate three possibilities.

If the court concurs, the consultant will work to come up with a specific plan for meeting the court’s 2002 mandates in its second Leandro ruling – a well-trained, competent teacher in every classroom, a well-trained, competent principal in every school and enough resources that every child has an equal opportunity for education. Those mandates were upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2004.

It’s unclear what influence, if any, the consultant would have in the legislature, which allocates funding for education.”

Gov. Roy Cooper also announced today in a press release that he has signed an executive order to establish the Governor’s Commission on Access to a Sound Basic Education to help North Carolina meet its duties under the state constitution as underscored by the landmark rulings in Leandro and Hoke County Board of Education v. North Carolina.

“No matter where North Carolina students live or go to school in our state, they all deserve access to a quality education that prepares them for the jobs and opportunities of the future,” Cooper said in the release. “That is their right as children of North Carolina and we must not let them down.”

The Commission will assess North Carolina’s ability to staff schools with competent, well-trained teachers and principals and its commitment to providing adequate resources to public schools, according to Cooper’s Office.

Seventeen representatives will be appointed in the coming weeks by Cooper from the fields of education, business, local government, law, health care, early childhood development, psychology and counseling, and public safety. The first meeting is expected to be in the fall.

Commission leaders will work with the independent consultant appointed in Leandro to help with their review and assessment.

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