Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina. He writes here of the desperate situation that his state is in.
A few key statements summarize the article:
“North Carolina has been converted from an occasionally progressive island of the New South to the American Legislative Exchange Council’s most faithful and fevered servant
“Let’s be candid that the dismantling of public education is a principal, unrelenting goal of our General Assembly
“Nothing – not our air, our water, our seacoast, our mountains, not even our children’s health – seems to trump the claimed possibilities of profit”
“The Republican General Assembly has struck a dramatic new course for North Carolina. The Tar Heel State has been converted from an occasionally progressive island of the New South to the nation’s spearhead of political conservatism. The American Legislative Exchange Council’s most faithful and fevered servant. There can no longer be sensible doubt about the path laid out for us….
“Shall we abandon North Carolina’s historic, enabling and almost visceral commitment to public education? The commitment that, more than any other, has worked to separate us from much of the South. Do we mean to allow this jettison? Can’t we at least be candid that the dismantling of public education is a principal, unrelenting goal of our General Assembly? Or are all the vouchers, charters, budget cuts, wrenching salary limitations, tenure and teaching assistant eliminations, rhetorical attacks and constantly pronounced school failures actually meant to accomplish something else? When we settle in to the lowest funding regime among the 50 states, will we still boast a proud dedication to learning?
“▪ What of our obligation of stewardship to the wonders and majesties of North Carolina? We seem hell-bent on an increasingly consumptive and exploitative relationship to the state’s unparalleled natural environment. As if literally nothing – not our air, our water, our seacoast, our mountains, not even our children’s health – can trump the claimed possibilities of profit. We seem enthusiastic to prove we’ll embrace risk that others renounce – with fracking, offshore drilling, coal ash, agricultural waste, the dismantling of DEQ, the “see no evil” rejection of climate science. Hubris replaces reverence. Recklessness swamps conservancy.
“▪ To put it crudely, how long will we embrace the role of greedy bully? Though we have among the nation’s highest rates of poverty, child poverty, concentrated poverty, hunger, economic immobility and income inequality, our most consistent policy agenda has been to limit the benefits and raise the taxes of the impoverished to bestow even greater accumulations of wealth on the rich. As if it were no longer thought hideous to deploy power and privilege to pilfer from the poor.
“Our leaders have acted with energy and clarity to implement their values. Are their standards actually our own?”
Professor Nichol’s brief tally of the pillaging of the public sector explains why the Network for Public Education is holding its national conference in Raleigh on April 15-17. We will be there to stand in solidarity with educators and parents as they face the depredations of a mean and low legislature, determined to crush public schools in North Carolina and stamp out opposition.
Please join us as we rally with and for our friends in what was once an enlightened state