In this session of the North Carolina General Assembly, lawmakers roaming the halls of West Jones Street have produced some rather contradictory and antithetical pieces of legislation and ignored the very premise of a representative government: allowing the voice of the people to be heard.
This is especially true with issues on public education.
On May 16th, 20,000 teachers came to Raleigh in the largest single march and rally for public education and in response, the General Assemble decided to pass the budget for public education through a committee report rather than with debate and amendments.
This is the same NCGA
- in which some have entertained having teachers carry weapons, but at the same time making them report to Raleigh every video they show in class to people who never have conducted a lesson plan;
- that is limiting how much people affected by hog farm waste practices can sue big companies for but allows for pork-barrel spending that kills much needed bills (school psychologists) or directs money to districts in obvious campaign ploys (remember DonorsChoose.org);
- that allows for vouchers to be used in unregulated private schools under the auspicies of “families know best for their children” but at the same time has members who want to drug test people who get other types of monetary aid used to buy food;
- that wants to put an income tax cap on the ballot as a constitutional amendment but now wants to allow property taxes to be used for more school funding;
- that has a bill to place “In God We Trust” in each school on a plaque when the very dollar bills they refuse to send to schools already has “In God We Trust” printed on them.
So it is not surprising that the NCGA is not even considering placing the state-wide school bond to help replace crumbling school buildings throughout the state even with a class-size mandate still lurks for next year.
As reported by T. Keung Hui of the News & Observer today,
North Carolina residents are likely to vote this fall on amendments to change the state constitution, but they won’t get a chance to decide on funding for school construction.
Calls for a $1.9 billion statewide school construction bond referendum were among the demands made by the 19,000 teachers who marched in Raleigh in May. Advocates for the school bond say the state needs to step up because aging schools are crumbling around North Carolina and some communities are too poor to pay for their school needs.
But instead of a school bond, legislators are debating what constitutional amendments to put on the fall ballot before they leave Raleigh next week. Proposed amendments cover such topics as requiring voters to show ID, capping the state’s income tax rate, ensuring crime victims’ rights and guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish (http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article213525519.html?__twitter_impression=true).
Almost a fifth of the teaching force in the entire state came to Raleigh on May 16th demanding that the NCGA fully fund schools. This school bond issue was really a no-brainer. It simply would ask the North Carolina General Assembly to poll the state on whether it would want to fund a statewide school bond to help rebuild the infrastructure of the public school system, especially in areas that were most cash-strapped.
But the NCGA will not do that. That shows their priorities.
Ironic that the same day that state wide school bond referendum could have been voted on is also the same day that everybody in the NCGA is up for reelection.