An Open Letter to Rep. Craig Horn About The Class Size Mandate Complete With a Churchill Reference

Dear Rep. Horn,

A news article today that some sort of solution will be reached concerning the class size mandate and its consequences was certainly welcome to many public school advocates.

As Billy Ball reported on NC Policy Watch’s website,

A plan to resolve North Carolina’s class size crisis is in the works and should be wrapped up in the coming weeks, an influential state legislator tells Policy Watch (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2018/01/04/chairman-house-education-committee-solution-class-size-crisis-imminent/).

That influential lawmaker was you.

“The gap is closing,” says Rep. Craig Horn, a Union County Republican who co-chairs the House K-12 budget committee. “There are folks that are working on a reasonable solution with the session coming as quickly as it is next week.”

And I believe that you are sincere in making this prediction.

But Ball also related something about how you came to say these words. He goes on to state,

Horn’s comments came after a meeting with local school board members in Charlotte this week, who, like many districts across the state, say a looming legislative mandate to slash class sizes in the early grades would have dramatic implications without additional funding or a reprieve from lawmakers.

“That did not fall on deaf ears,” said Horn. “I clearly understand the timeline and getting a decision made as soon as possible. The (local school districts) are under the gun.”

Meeting with the school board for Charlotte / Mecklenburg is certainly not the first time that you have had a chance to hear concerns. Many public school advocates have been screaming about the implications of this class size mandate for over a year.

You have mentioned in the past that this mandate is detrimental to our public schools. You were actually quoted about this in November of 2016 acknowledging that the NCGA’s original ideas to “curb” class sizes were not very clearly thought out.

How things play out is not always how you expect them to play out,” Horn told Policy Watch this week. “I mean, we obviously intended to make class changes. Did we fully understand all of the implications? Quite frankly, hell no” (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/11/14/new-rules-lower-class-sizes-force-stark-choices-threatening-tas-specialty-education-positions/).

So I have to ask first, why did it take a meeting with CMS officials this week to get you to talk about a plan to help alleviate a problem that you emphatically said existed almost fourteen months ago?

And yes, I know that legislation can be a matter of trial and error. Even you have explained that.

“Legislation is not an exact science” – – Craig Horn in EdNC.org on Sept. 21, 2017.

That was said in response to the principal pay program from earlier this school year that has drawn so much criticism because of its poor planning and abrupt enactment. It was a case where Raleigh seemed to be building the plane while flying it.

I sincerely hope that when you claim that a “fix” is coming to the class-size mandate, that it will have been thoroughly thought through and has every intention of not only funding the mandate fully, but ensuring that specials stay in our schools.

As Ball quoted you as saying,

“My personal view is that arts, P.E. and music are not enhancement courses; they are as key to a good education as is math or physics or English. We are required by the state constitution and the courts to provide a sound, basic education. My opinion is that arts, music and P.E. are part of that sound, basic education.”

And now I am going to ask a second and a third non-rhetorical question: Will you be forceful enough to make other decision makers of your political party understand that a basic sound education must be fully funded and enabled by Raleigh? Will you openly fight for that even if it means you calling out your contemporaries?

That’s not asking for you to use a “magic bullet that answers everybody’s needs.” I am asking you to use your position and power to follow through and fulfill the needs of public schools.

Your affinity for Winston Churchill is well known. You often quote him and make reference to him on your website, www.craighorn.com.

You are even called “Representative Churchill” by your legislative colleagues owing to your close association with the Churchill Centre. You are president of the Churchill Society of North Carolina and serve on the Board of Governors of the International Churchill Society and the Churchill Centre.

You may know of this quote that is falsely attributed to Winston Churchill.

winston-churchill-arts

It would be fantastic for this missive if that quote was actually Churchill’s. Yet, alas.

But Churchill did say this:

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”

That works well enough.

And Churchill would confront people when he needed to be confrontational.

Will you?

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