Judge David Lee recently and unexpectedly declared that the General Assembly is an unnamed defendant in the long-running Leandro case. The General Assembly has never been a party to the Leandro lawsuit, and Judge Lee has never identified them as such during his five years of oversight of the case. Despite calling for a “cooperative effort” with the legislature in April, Judge Lee plans to penalize the General Assembly for failing to approve a budget that does not include all components of the court-approved remedial plan.
Gov. Cooper likely would sign a state budget that includes the first two years of a multi-billion-dollar plan developed by a California-based consulting firm without input from legislators. Lawmakers should reject Cooper’s offer because the court-ordered plan is an affront to the constitutional authority of the General Assembly to direct taxpayer dollars. Rather than concede to a consulting firm’s plan favored by an unelected judge, lawmakers should continue to empower parents by expanding public and private school choice options.
Rising tensions between school officials and parents are real, but they are not cause for concern. Attorney General Merrick Garland agreed to use U.S. Department of Justice resources to address National School Boards Association concerns about purported threats of violence and acts of intimidation against school board members. Cooper and state education officials should send a joint letter to the Department of Justice declining federal assistance unless confronted with irrepressible violence at school board meetings.
Parents want public schools to focus on academics and implement coronavirus mitigation policies that acknowledge the costs and unsettled questions associated with masks and vaccines. The erosion of trust between public schools and families feeds the perception that board members, school administrators, and educators are not listening to parents’ legitimate concerns. Adding to the frustration is the fact that taxpayers realize that they have limited options: elect a new school board majority or enroll their children in a school of choice.
The $1.9 billion Leandro school funding plan will be the focus of budget negotiations between Gov. Cooper and lawmakers. Cooper wants a state budget that funds every dollar of the court-ordered plan, and budget conferees from the House and Senate do not. If the legislature does not pass a budget that includes the entire Leandro plan by October 18, Judge David Lee promised to use the court’s “remedial powers to secure such funding.”
Federal Covid legislation has brought over $6 billion in funding to North Carolina schools. The additional money equates to approximately $3,900 per student, almost four times the 2019-20 annual federal per-student expenditure ($994). Pressure to spend the money wisely is real — and good — because resources used to address specific Covid-related needs, expand student and parental options, and tie spending to the student will be money well spent.
For nearly three decades, Leandro v. State of North Carolina has had the potential to bring together elected officials from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches for the benefit of public education. Even though the General Assembly has direct authority over public school funding and policy, Cooper and the courts failed to solicit input from members of the General Assembly. The decision by the judicial and executive branches to treat the General Assembly as a pariah will undermine efforts to cultivate legislative or popular acceptance of the remedial plan adopted by the court.
News & Observer editors write frequently about their concern for the poor and the need to provide North Carolinians access to quality educational opportunities — which the Opportunity Scholarship Program meets by providing low- and moderate-income students the opportunity to access a better education. Instead of seeing Opportunity Scholarships as a lifeline for needy students, editors claim the program lacks accountability, diverts much-needed funds away from the public schools, and serves as a vehicle for discrimination. Such claims falter under close review, raising further doubts about the editors’ intentions and more questions about their public embrace of teachers’ unions.
School districts' mask requirements reveal deep differences about who should make decisions about children’s health and how they are educated. Florida allows parents of children who were threatened or bullied because of mask choice to attend another public or private school of their choice. North Carolina should consider similar legislation; giving parents the choice over how and where their child is educated is key to ending the mask wars.
Critical race theorists argue that white supremacy is an underlying structure at the heart of American institutions, social structures, and professed ideals. Marxism offered a starting point for the development of Critical Theory and Postmodernism in the twentieth century. These intellectual movements sought to extend Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism to other aspects of society, politics, and culture. Starting in the 1970s, a group of legal scholars borrowing heavily from Critical Theory and Postmodernism began creating an intellectual foundation that would become critical race theory.
John Locke Updates by Year
John Locke Updates by Author
by Update Type
John Locke Updates by Category
Copyright 2021 John Locke Foundation. All Rights Reserved