FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, calls the session to order at the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) NC House Speaker Tim Moore
FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, calls the session to order at the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

With NC lawmakers returning to Raleigh this week, a public school educator says their top priority should be funding public education, not expanding school choice. 

Most NC families choose public schools, yet many NC legislators don’t support that choice.

This week, the North Carolina General Assembly returns to Raleigh to vote on additional disbursements of federal CARES Act funding and they can’t help but insert pet projects unrelated to the task at hand to safely reopen school buildings.

Instead of focusing on fully funding NC Department of Health and Human Services’ school reopening requirements, state Republican leaders continue to push a privatizing agenda at the expense of the needs of our public school students.

Last year, lawmakers modified the curriculum to expand the study of personal finance and economics in the social studies graduation sequence.  In the same vein, it’s odd that many of those same lawmakers would double down on an economically irrational budgeting decision to push private school vouchers despite the lack of demand from North Carolinians. 

Today, $85 million sits unused in the voucher program because parents have chosen public schools for their children instead of private schools.  Gov. Roy Cooper proposes reallocating that money to filling funding needs in public schools. GOP leaders propose changing the program’s eligibility requirements to send more money to private schools.

North Carolinians are demanding support for their public schools and legislators must fulfill their constitutional duty to provide a “sound, basic education”— as required by the state’s Leandro decision—instead of brushing off a court mandate to address the state’s failure to do so. 

Just as there is a market surplus of vouchers, there is also more digital instruction than at any time in NC’s classrooms.  It seems an odd time to push increased enrollment at poorly performing virtual charter schools when school districts throughout the state are offering virtual instruction.  

Parents are demanding state and national leadership in combatting the coronavirus and funding the safe reopening of school buildings, not a different mode of virtual instruction.

Public school leaders ask for “hold harmless” policies for Average Daily Membership funding metrics to prevent school staff layoffs while Republicans in the General Assembly try to motivate families to leave public schools.

It’s past time our General Assembly acts in a manner that supports the choices parents have made to send their children to public schools.  

As we enter the final months before the election where all state level positions are on the ballot, it’s critical that public school families vote for candidates who support public schools instead of those who shamelessly undermine them.