5 things North Carolina lawmakers can do for public education in 2019

January 7, 2019 | The News & Observer

Last month, The Wall Street Journal released a bombshell report: Teachers are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate ever recorded. Across the country, the growing number of unfilled teaching positions means schools must increasingly hire people with no education training or rely on substitute teachers. The exodus comes as unprecedented teacher protests in several states have forced school closures and focused national attention on the desperate condition of our public education system.

One of those states is North Carolina. In May, 20,000 teachers filled the streets in Raleigh to express their dissatisfaction with the unravelling of public education under the GOP supermajority. We vowed to topple that supermajority at the polls and put our state back on the right track when it comes to support for our schools. In November we did just that, ending Republican supermajority control of both chambers of the legislature, electing many new, pro-education candidates and giving Governor Cooper the ability to sustain his veto.

Education advocates hope we’ll now see more of the transparency and dialogue that have been conspicuously absent from governance in North Carolina since 2011. GOP leadership regularly buried major education initiatives deep in budget bills, preventing the thoughtful debate and stakeholder input that are so essential to good policy. The current decline of our education system is a direct result of that misguided approach.

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