News today that a “fix” for the class size mandate was “agreed” upon by both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly should seem like a welcome outcome.
On the surface, it is a victory for parents, advocates, and schools in that the mandate will be pushed back for a while and some extra funding for “specials” teachers is being given.
But during that press-conference in which Sen. Chad Barefoot announced with carefully prepared and partisan comments the “fix,” he negated to tell North Carolinians what else was attached to the bill that NC democrats were never privy to (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article199207129.html).
That link not only gives you a video of Barefoot’s press conference; it also links to Lynn Bonner’s report that further explores HB90’s reach.
Long-sought help for schools struggling to lower class sizes is now tied up with a controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline fund and a power struggle over control of elections boards.
A bill proposed Thursday would take $58 million that energy companies building a pipeline through Eastern North Carolina are expected to give state government as part of a deal Gov. Roy Cooper negotiated, and distribute it to school districts in eight counties the pipeline would run through. Cooper calls it a mitigation fund to offset environmental effects of the pipeline, but Republicans repeatedly called it a “slush fund.”
House Bill 90 also makes changes to the state elections board. The changes are the response to Republicans’ recent loss in the state Supreme Court in a ruling that said their earlier attempt to reconstitute the board was unconstitutional. In the latest iteration, the elections board would have nine members, including one member not affiliated with a political party.
But to Barefoot and other GOP members of the NCGA, the day was really about bragging about a class-size fix.
Throughout most of the last calendar year people like Barefoot, Berger, and Moore have been yelling that the class size mandate has been funded in the past, yet there was absolutely no proof of that. One only has to read the work of Kris Nordstrom and see that those claims were not only baseless, but now are revealed to be the very smokescreen for today’s announcement.
What happened today was that the GOP education reformers took credit for a solution to a problem that they purposefully used to position themselves to pass partisan legislature to help them remain in power despite the gerrymandering and doublespeak.
And yes, it is politics. But public school kids were the pawns. They made it look like they were listening to the public, but it seems more than orchestrated.
Think of Craig Horn’s statements earlier in the year that a “fix” was coming only to be rebuffed by Berger. That is until more came out about the ruling of the state supreme court on the state elections board. They needed that time to figure out how to allow a fix that they have been holding in their back pocket to a problem they originally created could be used to offset their political loss.
And again, the kids were the pawns.
They have been all along.
Gov. Cooper’s office did respond with a press release and it is correct.
But the statements that came to mind were from Mark Johnson’s “less than stellar” op-ed from yesterday’s News & Observer (http://amp.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article198795214.html?__twitter_impression=true).
And some of those tasked with making schools better are more focused on preserving tired partisan wedges….
Nothing was more partisan than what the people who empower and enable Johnson (who never has really said anything about the class size mandate) did today.
And today also shows us why we need to vote so many people out of office come November.
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