Editorial on school reopening deal: There, that wasn’t so hard now, was it?

Sen. Phil Berger, Gov. Roy Cooper, House Speaker Tim Moore

When it comes to the substance of the final agreement struck yesterday between Gov. Roy Cooper and state legislative leaders to reopen public schools, there are still some legitimate grounds for concern. As N.C. Association of Educators President Tamika Walker Kelly noted yesterday, many of the educators who will have to put their health on the line to make school reopening a reality still have reason to be worried about social distancing issues and the state’s ongoing failure to adequately fund a public health infrastructure — decent facilities, school nurses, etc… —  in K-12 education.

That said, the fact that legislative leaders finally did something they’ve largely refused to do for more than four years — sit down and work out a compromise with Gov. Cooper over a major issue of public policy — was heartening. As this morning’s lead Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com rightfully observes:

Wednesday’s moment of conciliation and collegiality came after bitter confrontation, a failed veto override and name-calling – all utterly unnecessary and not constructive.

The resolution reached was recognition that, all along, legislators and the governor had more in common on the issue of reopening classrooms than not. Meeting, hashing out the differences, would produce a law that met the shared objectives of moving toward getting schools open and making sure it was done in a healthy and safe manner.

And while the editorial acknowledges the agreement is almost assuredly imperfect, it also offers this hopeful assessment of what it might portend going forward:

While we are not naively optimistic, we still don’t abandon hope that the culmination of the tussle over the back-to-classroom legislation will be instructive.

Good politics is about making what is best for the state THE priority. It is not crushing the governor or partisan opposition. It isn’t notching a political victory on some imaginary scoreboard of one-upmanship.

This effort should shine a path to more constructive and collaborative efforts — not be an isolated exception.

Ever since the the horrific right-wing invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, there have been hints from GOP leaders in Raleigh that they are at least somewhat interested in ratcheting down the level of confrontation and bluster that they have been bringing to their relationship with Gov. Cooper. Let’s hope yesterday’s agreement is an indication that such a change is actually becoming a reality.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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