After seven meetings during this legislative interim, the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform has proven itself incapable of seriously rethinking how North Carolina funds its public schools. Careful examination of a state’s school funding system is tough work. It requires strategic thinking, and good information; neither of which have been hallmarks of the Task Force’s work.
In its first year, Task Force has failed to complete even the first step towards considering alternatives to North Carolina’s school funding system – neglecting to identify which aspect(s) of our current school funding system they find problematic. In fact, they have expressly vowed to avoid examining the adequacy of school funding, even though most experts would agree that the inadequacy of state funding is a much bigger barrier to student success than the inefficient distribution of existing funds.
The Task Force’s inability to identify what problem(s) they hope to solve has also prevented they from taking other necessary steps such as defining consensus goals for the qualities they want to see in any new school finance system. The Task Force has yet to define terms like “equity” or “efficiency,” let alone establish a consensus, prioritized list of which aspects of school finance (i.e. equity, stability, transparency) lawmakers most value. Without taking these steps, the Task Force will never be able to methodically assess alternative funding proposals.
The Task Force’s work has been hindered further by a stream of presenters who have done more to misinform than inform. Read more