"I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher." ~ Temple Grandin
Public education provides the framework upon which we build our future in North Carolina. If our framework is strong, our future is bright. If we allow our framework to crumble, we cannot build a solid future. We need an educated citizenry that is ready to lead, innovate, create jobs and power our economy into the future.
Every child deserves the opportunities that a high quality, public education provides. Teachers are professionals who do important, challenging work and must be respected and compensated accordingly.
I agree with the Leandro court decision and the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. The Leandro Plan is a comprehensive set of spending and policy reforms necessary to provide our students the "sound, basic" education they are guaranteed by the State Constitution. The Plan is based on research and recommendations from the country’s leading nonpartisan education experts and should be among the NCGA's top priorities. The fact that Republican leaders have ignored Leandro's conclusions and the Court's Orders for more than two decades is shameful, especially now when we have an unprecedented budget surplus and billions in federal pandemic relief at our disposal.
I oppose unfunded mandates from the NCGA that create chaos at the local level, such as the recent class size change that Republicans claimed was their way of “helping” school districts. It is best when classroom decisions are made by teachers and local administrators, not politicians in Raleigh who are not held to account for the cost of and confusion caused by their policy dictates. Teacher leaders need to be at the table when education policy is crafted.
COVID-19 has exacerbated economic and racial disparities in achievement among our students. While most students struggled during the pandemic, low-income students and students of color have faced more obstacles. To rectify this, we need to support acceleration plans using evidence-based strategies in schools. Every student should have access to summer learning programs, such as those in HB82, which we passed in April 2021.
On the issue of guns in schools, I do not support arming school teachers. A much better idea, one supported by the educators I’ve met, is to have more school nurses and counselors to help address the myriad issues (personal, emotional, medical and family-related) students carry with them every day. More on my position on gun violence at this page.
I am the proud daughter of a dedicated elementary school teacher. My parents went to public schools; my sister and I attended public K-12 schools, as did my daughters, one of whom is now a first grade teacher. My family knows the value of public education, and I want to preserve those opportunities for future generations. I worry that North Carolina, a state once known and respected for its public education investments and innovations, is sliding backwards on its commitment and sacrificing our children’s future. We can and we must do better.
*Republican legislators often brag about increased total education spending, but that is not the relevant criteria. We have many more public school students than ever before, so spending needs to go up just to keep up. Per pupil spending has actually gone down over the last two budgets and is still not back to the pre-2008 recession level and teacher pay is below the national average. Republicans have controlled both chambers of the NCGA for more than a decade. If public education was really their priority, they would have addressed it by now. Instead, they prioritize cut taxes for corporations and spend millions more for private school vouchers.