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Editorial to state schools superintendent: Serve kids, not partisan politics

Catherine Truitt

Be sure to check out this morning’s Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com — “Truitt’s job is to stand with school children, not political patrons.” The essay sends a powerful reminder to the state’s still-newish state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Catherine Truitt, that she needs to rediscover the persona she projected early on in her tenure when she evinced a desire to avoid the destructive partisanship and rigid ideological nonsense that plagued her overmatched predecessor, Mark Johnson.

Sadly, as the editorial notes, Truitt’s recent endorsement of the desultory and pathetically inadequate state Senate budget proposal makes clear that will take some doing:

It is now quite clear that partisan politics is Catherine Truitt’s priority as North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. That is the only conclusion any reasonable observer can reach following her statement that the budget passed late last month by the state Senate “does so much to boost North Carolina’s public school system.”

Her priority, demonstrating fealty to Senate Leader Phil Berger and other legislative leaders, is misplaced.

As an independently elected statewide leader her focus should be, regardless of partisan leanings, on North Carolina’s public-school students, the concerns of their parents, the necessary instructional resources, welfare and working conditions of classroom teachers and support for educational staff and administrators.

As the editorial explains in great detail, the budget proposal for education is an outrage — especially at a moment in which the state continues to repeatedly violate court orders to provide all the state’s schoolchildren with access to a sound basic education. Again, here’s the editorial:

The courts used a professional, non-partisan process to come up with a workable and reasonable plan to remediate that problem. That program, however, is barely funded by the Senate – just 15% to 20% of the $1.6 billion required. Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget would fully-fund the remediation plan.

How can anyone suggest that a 1.5% annual raise is appropriate for teachers who haven’t seen a raise in the last two years, much less a “show of appreciation for their tireless work carried on throughout COVID.” It is an insult particularly given the extraordinary extra effort teachers displayed on a routine basis through the pandemic – too often the unsung among the front-line workers.

After listing other ways in which the budget proposal comes up woefully short, the editorial offers this on-the-mark conclusion:

Legislative leaders don’t need any more cheerleaders.

But the school children of North Carolina do.

Truitt must stand up for the public schools – the students, teachers, staff and administrators — she was elected to lead.

Public schools and the state’s school children are being sold short in the Senate budget. It is Truitt’s job to say so and make sure it gets fixed.

Amen.

Click here to read the full editorial.

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