North Carolina’s assault on public education just got worse
“I am no fan of hyperbole, but I mean it when I say this: North Carolina is waging war against public education.”
That was written in August 2015 by James Hogan, a former teacher who is now a writer and a fundraiser at Davidson College and a board member of the public education advocacy group Our Schools First. He was referring to more than five years of policies set by conservative Republican lawmakers who, among other things, slashed education spending, promoted charter schools and school vouchers without ensuring sufficient accountability and oversight, and eliminated due-process rights for many teachers.
And now, what public education advocates see as a broad assault on public schools just got blatantly worse.
Republican legislators in North Carolina, who apparently couldn’t accept the GOP defeat in November’s gubernatorial election, just passed a series of bills to weaken the incoming Democratic governor’s power — and one of them affects public education. GOP lawmakers said the moves were simply a needed realignment of power. Opponents equated it to a legislative coup.
One of the bills transfers a great deal of power from the State Board of Education — whose members are mostly selected by the governor — to the state superintendent of public instruction, an elected official. The new state superintendent will be Republican Mark Johnson, who defeated the Democratic incumbent, June Atkinson, in November.
The legislation has been sent to outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory — who narrowly lost reelection to Democrat Roy Cooper — and he has already signed one of the newly passed bills that would effectively give Republicans control of the state Board of Elections during election years.