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Competence, belief in public education. A must for those seeking to lead N.C. schools

CBC Editorial: Tuesday, April 16, 2024; #8923

The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

It should go without saying that those seeking to lead North Carolina’s public schools should embrace public education. But, for some candidates and wealthy political donors, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Why? Not just because it is the right thing, but because it is a requirement, an obligation.

The Constitution makes education a “right” and stresses it is the “duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.” Further, it says: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

The Constitution requires the state legislature to provide “a general and uniform system of free public schools,”

Those words have been repeatedly reinforced by the state Supreme Court, stressing that the Constitution demands every child must have an “opportunity to receive a sound basic education.”

But that’s not what one of those running to oversee our state’s public education system believes. And that’s not what some of her most prominent backers say.

“It is virtually impossible to change the K-12 status quo in public schools. The highly entrenched educational bureaucracy prevents any type of positive change. Sometimes ‘Exit,’ a disruptive organizational approach that involves exiting the current system and creating a new one, is the best solution instead of trying to reform the current model.”

So says wealthy political activist Robert Luddy who is helping fund the campaign of Michele Morrow, the Republican nominee for state Superintendent of Public Instruction. She is a home-school mother who said public schools are “indoctrination centers” while also calling for the public execution of former President Barack Obama.

Luddy, who founded the Thales Academy private schools – which by the way received more than $2 million in taxpayer dollars through the private school voucher program – says Morrow will “make civility and respect imperative” in public schools. “Michele Morrow is a home school mother with a deep understanding of K-12 education,” he said.

Last week Luddy, with Raleigh developer John Kane, hosted a high-dollar fundraising event for Morrow

The fact is, those that Luddy and Kane have already helped elect and who rule the state legislature, have left public education in North Carolina neglected. The best and most experienced public school teachers are fleeing as vacancy rates are the highest ever, classrooms are understaffed and students lack the resources they need to help them learn.

To the degree that North Carolina schools fail children, it is the refusal of legislators to address the needs of public education. Legislators refuse to adopt a thoughtful, thorough and sound consensus plan that would put in place those resources – qualified teachers and administrators, classroom materials and equipment, support so students are healthy and can focus on learning – so all children have access to a quality education.

North Carolina’s public schools deserve support and leadership from those who can manage an $11.6 billion enterprise that serves 1.5 million children – and most significantly believes in public education. Would Luddy hire Morrow, based on her experience of leading a home school, to be the top administrator at one of his private schools?

It is not an option to “exit” public schools – particularly to those who say they aspire to lead them.

North Carolina needs a competent Superintendent of Public Instruction who believes ALL children MUST have a quality education. Leading public schools downward is not an option.

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