MARK JEWELL: Standing strong for public schools is best school choice
With the new GOP budget, North Carolina drops to 43rd in the nation for per student spending. Legislators in Raleigh continue to give huge tax cuts to corporations, while our classrooms don't even have pencils and paper. This is outrageous, as tax payers we expect our public schools to be funded fully, so that we may achieve the American ideal, that every person receives a quality education.
As bells ring in a new school year, too many of our elected leaders are tardy, or worse yet absent, when it comes to investing in our students’ future. National rankings confirmed that North Carolina continues to be one of the worst states in the nation in spending per student. Worse yet, North Carolina is projected to fall another spot to 43rd this year, more than $3,000 per student behind the national average. Instead of investing in our classrooms, the General Assembly’s leadership focusing on bolstering corporate boardrooms and millionaires through a series of tax cuts.
The Budget & Tax Center estimates that tax cuts over the last four years result in an estimated $3.5 billion in less annual revenue – money that isn’t going to boost classroom technology or instructional supplies -- compared to the tax system in place prior to 2013. Public school teachers and parents have had to resort to GoFundMe campaigns just to provide for our students’ most basic needs.
As the General Assembly sends money to big business and the wealthy, it deprives public schools by diverting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools through a voucher scheme. By the end of this decade, at the current rate, North Carolina will spend more on private school vouchers than on textbooks and digital resources for 1.5 million public school students.
In the last century, public education has transformed North Carolina into a beacon of opportunity. Public schools have made – and can continue to make -- a dramatic impact on generations of families. But we must make a choice:
Instead of sitting quietly through the systematic dismantling of public schools, we should stand strong for the heart and soul of our state—a thriving public education system.