NC Policy Watch reports on the North Carolina legislature’s latest attack on public education. Its assault was enacted by spurning the democratic process, ramming through a funding bill that few legislators had read or understood. The bill is probably a violation of federal law and should be challenged in court.

“Senate leaders unveiled a proposal in the Senate Finance Committee Monday afternoon that would divert more funding from the majority of local school districts across the state to charter schools, including federal support for transportation and school lunches that many charters don’t even provide.

“The proposal appeared out of nowhere as a bill about school playgrounds was gutted and replaced with the controversial charter school funding provisions, a version of legislation that passed the Senate months ago but stalled in the House.

“Very few people seemed to know the charter bill was coming, including public school officials and most of the committee members themselves.

“A representative of the school administrators association, also blind-sided by the proposal, told the lawmakers that it would adversely affect their local schools and that their school officials would be strongly against it.

“That didn’t deter supporters of the funding change, led by Senator Chad Barefoot, whose only answer to every question was that the “money should follow the child,” a talking point that is not only an oversimplification, but a statement that makes little sense if a charter school is receiving federal funding for services it doesn’t have to provide or if a student attends a school outside a special tax district.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown admitted he was confused by the effect of all the complicated provisions transferring money from school districts to charters and he wasn’t the only one.

“Even Barefoot acknowledged that he wasn’t an expert on the legislation and was handling it because Senate Education Chair Jerry Tillman was absent due to a death in family.

“The confusion of committee members and Barefoot’s inability to adequately explain the complicated finance changes didn’t seem to faze Finance Chair Bob Rucho who called for a vote on the surprise legislation anyway, brushing aside questions from committee members by telling them that the staff would provide the requested information to them.

“In other words, lawmakers would vote before they understood the actual consequences of what they were voting on, how much it would cost their local schools and whether not diverting federal funding violated the law.”

Chris Fitzsimon writes:

“The misguided plan is the latest evidence that Senate leaders have never met a charter school bill they didn’t like.

“They always seem to start with the same assumption, that charter school advocates are always right, that charters are always superior to traditional schools in their own district and that charters deserve more and more funding….

“It hasn’t turned out that way. Many charter advocates and most of their supporters in the General Assembly aren’t looking to innovate anymore.

“They are looking to compete and win and then dismantle and replace the traditional public schools they never fully supported. The legislation unveiled this week is their latest mode of attack.”

The legislators and governor in North Carolina are vandals, stealing from the many to benefit the few.

It is events like this that persuaded the Network for Public Education to hold its next annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 16-17, 2016.

Our keynote speaker is the great Rev. William Barber, founder of Moral Mondays, which organizes weekly demonstrations against the racist, exclusionist, privatizing agenda of the North Carolina legislature.

We will be there to learn from and support parents, educators, and concerned citizens who are appalled by the demolition of public institutions and outraged by the abuses of power that are exhibited on a regular basis by a legislature that puts profits over people.

Join us!