CBC Editorial: Friday, March 4, 2022; Editorial #8742
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
A legislative committee has embarked on defining what public education in North Carolina means and what it should produce.
That committee’s work has been done and its mission should be changed.
If anyone needs to know what public education is about, what needs to be done to fulfill its mission and what it should produce, they need look no further than hard work and laudable cooperative efforts of the plaintiffs, defendants and judges over the last quarter-century to achieve agreement in the landmark Leandro court decision.
State courts – in decisions unanimously reached and written by Democratic and Republican justices – determined North Carolina was failing in meeting its State Constitutional promise to provide access to a quality education to every child. It also did the hard work to both say:
- What comprises a quality education, and
- What needs to be done to make sure every kid has the chance to get it.
What the “House Select Committee on An Education System for North Carolina’s Future” need work on – and what committee members should insist its work entail – is implementing the “Comprehensive Remedial Plan that the Leandro plaintiffs and defendants developed and was ordered by Judge Stephen Lee – who was appointed to oversee the case by former Republican State Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin.
Some important reminders. This court case and plan arises from those most directly involved in education. These remedies don’t spring forth from some secret backroom deal in the state legislature. They aren’t handed down by bureaucrats and administrators in the state Department of Public Instruction.
This is about as grassroots as things get in government and politics. This whole matter arises from the insistence and involvement of the parents of students who were denied their right to a quality education. It involved local school districts that were short-changed by the legislature and state education administration of the resources needed to meet their constitutional obligation. Those folks have continued to be directly involved in the process. Students, parents, teachers, administrators – the folks who have a direct stake.
Look at the Leandro case, the remedies developed and the court orders handed down. They reveal a very clear picture of what a quality education entails:
- A high-quality teacher in every classroom.
- High quality principals and other administrators in every school and district.
- Adequate resources to provide quality teachers, principals, administrators, resources and facilities in every classroom and every school.
- Reliable and understandable systems for assessment and accountability of student performance and instructional effectiveness.
- Support to uplift low-performing schools.
- A broadly available system of effective early-childhood education so every child starts school ready to learn.
- Ensure all students, after completing high school, are ready for further higher education and careers.
This isn’t pie-in-the-sky education jargon or bureaucratic consultant speak. It is the basic stuff of making sure every child can get the quality education our state promises and that they deserve. They will become better people who will contribute to their families and communities. They will build a better North Carolina.
So, stop with the self-serving presentments from politicians who only want to use some rhetoric about education to advance their personal political ambitions.
Work on implementing, with all deliberate speed, the court’s workable and wise comprehensive remedial plan. If the committee does that, it will truly live up to its title and mission and achieve “an education system for North Carolina’s future.”
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