Commentary

Busting Tim Moore’s myths about public schools

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

Be sure to check out the lead editorial on WRAL.com this morning, in which North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore is taken to task for his mythologizing about public education in a recent opinion column.

In Moore’s column, he makes the following claims in the second sentence:

“Changes already in effect include four consecutive teacher pay raises, an improved approach to state education funding, a successful Read to Achieve literacy program and expanded school choice for low-income families.”

Now here’s the editorial (“Speaker Moore’s boasting about education doesn’t add up”) in response:

“Let’s start with four contentions in the second sentence of his column:

  • ‘Four consecutive teacher pay raises.’ FACT: Teacher pay has increased for those with the least experience while it has stagnated or been cut for those with more experience. Additionally, pay cuts for longevity and advanced degrees coupled with increased costs of benefits drive out the best and most experienced in our classrooms.  North Carolina average teacher pay remains $9,000 behind the national average.
  • ‘Improved approach to state education funding.’ FACT: Education funding in North Carolina is in an unresolved crisis of the legislature’s making. An unfunded demand to cut class size continues to leave local school systems in budget-planning chaos that threatens art, music, language arts and physical-ed instruction in our schools.
  • ‘Successful ‘Read to Achieve’ literacy program.’ FACT: Surveys of North Carolina teachers indicate barely a quarter say the program has had a positive impact and 40 percent say it’s been negative.
  • ‘Expanded school choice for low-income families.’ FACT: The lack of demonstrable educational achievement, accountability and transparency in the “opportunity scholarship” private school voucher program is an irresistible invitation to fraud, waste, abuse and corruption. There are already signals of that a plenty. Look at what’s happening at the Fayetteville private school that is the single-greatest recipient of voucher funds. Its basketball coach pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of state tax withholding dollars.

Now, that’s just Speaker Moore’s second sentence.

Moore shouldn’t claim advances in education when, in too many cases, the reality is that it’s been two steps backward followed by a single step forward. That means we’re still behind.”

After detailing several statistics demonstrating the lackluster support conservative lawmakers have provided to public education, the editorial closes this way:

“The reality is that Moore and his ideological soulmates in the General Assembly are more intent on cutting taxes for big corporations and the wealthy than providing the needed funding for properly paid teachers and quality public schools.

When it comes to doing more for education in North Carolina, Moore’s boasting is no more than school-yard trash talk. All platitudes, with little to back it up.”

Exactly.

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