With a wink and a nod, the left-wing media continues to help push the deceptive agenda of the teachers union (NCAE) in the Tar Heel State. It is readily apparent that neither the NCAE nor the media support real educational reform in North Carolina.
The original lie touted by the NCAE was that Republicans were firing thousands of teachers and cutting the education budget. After being forced to retract those fabrications, a new falsehood has emerged — the five percent increase in K-12 spending passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly does not keep up with the increase in inflation and student enrollment. Yes, another lie.
Actually, inflation is holding steady at 1.5 percent growth and student enrollment is increasing at half a percent each year. It does not take a math teacher to realize that a five percent increase in the education budget is more than enough to cover the two percent rise in inflation and student enrollment.
Similar prevarications and more were spouted two and a half years ago by Democrat representatives Rick Glazier, Mickey Michaux and Ray Rapp when the first Republican-controlled General Assembly in over 140 years passed its budget. These Chicken Littles were joined by a chorus of other liberal chicks, including then-Governor Beverly Perdue. The prophets of doom warned that class sizes would double, 20,000 teachers would be fired and the GOP budget would cause “generational damage” to our state’s public schools. More lies — and big ones at that.
None of these dire warnings came true. In fact, North Carolina public schools went on to post the highest graduation rate in state history at over 80 percent this year. According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), all teaching positions were fully funded, with schools adding 3,198 state-funded education jobs this year alone.
Another extremely misleading complaint made by the NCAE is that the state of North Carolina is at the bottom in terms of money spent per student and the GOP General Assembly, of course, must be at fault. According to DPI, total federal, state and local spending is around $8600 per child. This would indicate that North Carolina is in 45th place for education spending. Yet, here’s the rub: when it comes to state spending in the budget passed by the General Assembly, North Carolina ranks among the highest national percentages of funding from state dollars (11th in the nation and 2nd in the Southeast according to DPI).
Here’s the breakdown on funding: the Feds provide 16 percent of K-12 funding and local governments around a quarter of the money. The state picks up the rest of the tab at just over 60 percent or $7.5 billion a year, plus hundreds of millions more maintaining and building schools.
So where does the money come from in other states that spend more on education? It comes from local governments through increased property taxes and bonds, not through state dollars. In other words, county and city governments are free to spend more on educating our children, but they choose NOT to do so.
So if spending more money on education is the goal, why aren’t the partisan press and teachers union going after local governments? Good question! Could it be that most of the municipal governments, particularly in the most populous areas (where most of the children live) are Democrat-controlled? Also, why didn’t the NCAE and leftist media go after the Democrats when they actually cut education spending after 2008 through 2010, just before North Carolina voters threw them out of power? Another good question!
The bottom-line is that we have all had enough of the misleading information and outright lies from the Left regarding education in the Tar Heel State. Despite claims to the contrary, the NCAE does not represent our children. It uses the money it collects from its members to support liberal candidates who promise the NCAE more money and power in return.
If improving education in North Carolina was a priority for this de facto union, they have an abysmal track record. The gig is up for these leftists. Try as they might, their stranglehold on education policy has been broken and better days are ahead for North Carolina’s children. Reforms are in place and more are coming. In the meantime, expect the lies, screaming and shouting to get louder. However, rest assured that in the end, the truth will prevail!
— Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a chairman of the Senate Judiciary 1 and Justice and Public Safety Committees.