When The John Locke Foundation Validates A Collective Voice For Teachers and Red4EdNC

In today’s online edition of The News & Observer, T. Keung Hui published a piece focusing on the Red4EdNC movement and its initiative to create a teacher congress in helping advance the momentum of May 16th’s teacher rally in Raleigh and keep pressure on the NC General Assembly to fully fund public schools (https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article214446374.html).

The purpose, the framework, and the goals of Red4EdNC were reported. Even it’s “Declaration of Independence” along with its introductory video were posted for all to view.

declaration

As any reporter would do, Hui asked an opinion of someone who may have an inclination to disagree with the motives of teachers taking collective action. In this case, it was Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation.

The teacher writing this post is proudly part of the Red4EdNC movement. And I am very aware of Dr. Stoops’s positions. Many have been discussed on this blog. But rarely does there come a time when I read Dr. Stoops’s comments and / or op-eds and feel completely validated.

Because that’s exactly what he did for me and others who may believe in what Red4EdNC is trying to accomplish.

Hui states,

The declaration calls for creation of the Teachers Congress. It also calls for actions such as increasing per-pupil spending and teacher salaries to pre-recession levels, with an adjustment for inflation, and “cessation of taxation policies which favor individuals over the corporate good.”

Then Stoops is reported as saying,

“Ironically the founders issued the Declaration of Independence to protest that taxation was too high. and Red4Ed issued their declaration to declare that taxes on people and individuals are not high enough,” said Stoops of the Locke Foundation.

Actually, it seems that Stoops missed the point of the original Declaration of Independence. What the Founding Fathers were protesting was taxation without representation. And representation is what is central to Red4EdNC’s mission.

As the “vice president of research for the John Locke Foundation, a group that’s been supportive of the Republican-led General Assembly,” Stoops has shown favoritism to a  group that has done anything but allow for representation in the recently “passed” budget.

Literally after a representative body that included nearly a fifth of the teaching force which caused almost half of the school systems in the state to close, the NCGA that Stoops supports did the very thing that the Founding Fathers would have never agreed to: pass the budget through a committee report and not through dialogue.

No debate. No amendments. No representation.

And that budget was not as helpful to public education as it should have been. Additionally, that budget is supposed to work for and be representative of the people of North Carolina. But this state has a Voter ID amendment coming to the ballot that when previously pushed as a bill was struck down in the courts because it was really voter suppression. Furthermore, the very NCGA that Stoops supports has had to redraw district lines because of gerrymandering along racial lines.

That May 16th march and rally was to make voices heard.

But while Stoops may want to spin the Founding Fathers’ intentions to make it appear that Red4EdNC wants to increase taxes, he may want to take a look at another piece that T. Keung Hui recently published from the North Carolina Influencer Series.

About the Influencer Series:

This election year, the Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun want to elevate policy discussions and make sure candidates focus on the most important issues. We’ve assembled a panel of 60 influential North Carolinians and will survey them throughout the year to get their views (https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/influencers/article212212939.html). 

On July 2nd, one of those “discussions” was published – “NC Influencers say state needs to give schools enough money and close achievement gap.”

It starts,

Public schools need to receive adequate funding to ensure the continued health of North Carolina, according to a new survey of some of the state’s most influential leaders.

A group of 60 North Carolina Influencers — comprised of leaders in the state’s political, business, academic and faith communities — were asked about the importance of 14 different education topics. Nearly all the Influencers listed adequate funding as being very important, saying that taking care of that issue would help solve a variety of other problems affecting the state’s K-12 education system (https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/influencers/article213909629.html). 

Further along it is reported,

After adequate funding, the 57 Influencers who responded listed closing the racial achievement gap and increasing teacher pay as their next two highest concerns. Making schools safer, creating universal pre-K, boosting vocational education and closing the rural-urban divide were also rated as very important by at least half the respondents.

One of those Influencers is Art Pope who co-founded the John Locke Foundation for which Dr. Stoops works.

I wonder how Stoops would respond to all of the Influencers who seem to want “to declare that taxes on people and individuals are not high enough.”

What the majority of the Influencers call for is exactly what those 19,000 teachers called for on May 16th – fully funding public schools in a state whose NCGA boasts of a surplus, takes federal money earmarked for Pre-K education and funnels it back into the general coffers, and passes legislation that could shift the burden of funding many public school functions to local governments through property taxes.

Red4EdNC is calling for a representative body to help influence the government to fully fund schools, A representative body just like the Founding Fathers asked for as explained in many an overused textbook in overcrowded classrooms in North Carolina.

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “When The John Locke Foundation Validates A Collective Voice For Teachers and Red4EdNC

  1. Nice try, Stu. This entire essay is an attempt to ignore the elephant in the room. Red4EdNC refuses to put a price tag on the group’s demands and outline a plan for paying for them. If the group is not afraid to call for a massive tax increase, then it wouldn’t have used the ridiculous line, “Cessation of tax practices which favor individuals over the collective good.” How many billions will North Carolinians have to pay for the “collective good?” It sounds expensive.

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      • Great response! Just enter the dollar amount here: ______________________ and the corresponding tax increases here: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
        If you don’t mind, please define “collective good” and let me know who decides what that is. You’ll need more than just a few lines for that one.

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      • Well Dr. Stoops, I will give you another great response and use your previous response as a template. But first, I would like to send your previous responses to the other 20,000 teachers who came to Raleigh on May 16th. They seem to agree that public schools need more funding.

        You said: “Great response! Just enter the dollar amount here _________________:”

        Well, how about the amount of money that would bring NC’s average teacher salary to the national average. Add to that the amount of money to bring per-pupil expenditure to pre-recession levels adjust for inflation. Add to that funding for the over 7,400 teacher assistants we as a state have lost in the past ten years. Add to that the money needed to restore graduate degree pay. Add money for textbooks and professional development. How about also adding enough to fully fund those class size mandates.

        There’s a start. I have more in mind. I talk a lot about them on my blog.

        Next you professorially stated, “ and the corresponding tax increases here: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.”

        Well that’s funny you mention that when the NCGA just passed a budget that allows for property taxes to be used to fund local schools and possibly state mandates. Seems that taxes are going up there.

        Let’s not raise taxes right now for argument’s sake, but maybe not extend more corporate tax cuts for businesses and people who make significantly more than the average North Carolinian. We haven’t really seen the trickle-down effect from that here in our schools. Next, maybe not invest almost a billion dollars’ worth into a voucher scheme over ten-year period when it has not shown any real success and put that back into the public schools (yes, I know you said it “hits the mark” in your latest missive in the op-ed circuit but I can’t help it if you misread the conclusions of the NC State study that was financed by your boss’s foundation). How about taking some of the money earmarked for Special Needs Education Savings Accounts (which might be one of the most unregulated versions in the country) and allowing parents to invest it back into services for their children in public schools? Maybe we could also not extend so much money into new unregulated charter schools.

        By the way, aren’t you trying to open one up in Wake County? And if you are, will you be going to the county commissioners and asking for funds from property taxes to help fund your school in a county that has more nationally certified teachers than any other county IN THE NATION? Apparently, Wake County Public School System had a big meeting last night in which cuts had to be made because of a shortfall that most board members said was because of lack of funding from the NCGA you support which is also sitting on a surplus it likes to brag about. Did you go there and explain your thoughts to set them straight?

        You concluded with, “If you don’t mind, please define ‘collective good’ and let me know who decides what that is. You’ll need more than just a few lines for that one.”

        I thought about this part as I was driving back on state and county maintained roads, transporting my younger child who happens to have special needs from speech therapy to a summer enrichment program established by the local school system to help him maintain academic growth. I also returned a book to the public library that I was using to help formulate a reading list for next school year and passed by a waste disposal truck, a recycling center, and the city police department. Then I thought about how the only schools that would even consider taking my child as a student were the public schools, but that is another post.

        So while the word “collective” may spark some vision of the Borg trying to assimilate our human race, I will just refer to the very state constitution that the NCGA you support is trying to alter in six different ways this November.

        It’s Article IX, Sections 1 & 2:

        “Section 1. Education encouraged.
        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.
        Sec. 2. Uniform system of schools.
        (1) General and uniform system: term. The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.”
        Of course, all of this is up for debate, but that NCGA you support doesn’t seem to like debate and open discourse. Just look at how they passed the recent budget.
        Thanks for reading my blog, one that is maintained by an actual public school teacher on a public school teacher’s salary and not sponsored by a political think tank.
        And you are right. I did need a few more lines for that one.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Terry, it’s not really our job to determine how to adequately fund the public schools. It’s a constitutional requirement of the state, and it is up to our elected leaders to honor it. And they have to do the math. So I suggest you send that comment on over to the GA. They need to start thinking on it.

    For the record, Red4Ed has never called for tax increases. But the fact that are “going nuclear” with that scare tactic, and not challenging a single statement in that Declaration, is a very good sign for us and our movement.

    I also find it ironic that a spokesperson from the John Locke Foundation needs help with what “collective good” means. John Locke came down on the side of “we are better off with government than in a state of nature” and that governments are only legitimate if the general welfare (the interests of the common people who are the majority) of the people is better off with them than without them. And, when they(the government) no longer serve the interests of the common people and the majority, it is the job of the people to challenge those governments to do better or cede power. There are a bunch of moderate teachers in this state who are taking on that role (and I assure you we would rather not), because we feel the interest of the common people is no longer the priority.

    Either we are wrong, and this movement will die, or we are right and it will grow. But you can bet that when and if a bunch of rule-following, educated, ideologically diverse, professional educators in NC ban together for collective action, there’s something amiss in our state, whether you want to admit it or not.

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    • No, Red4EdNC did not ask for a tax increase, but it certainly would be required to meet the list of demands you outlined in the declaration. It is not the NCGA’s job to estimate the cost of a wish list put together by an advocacy group. It’s your job to think about the cost of what you have proposed and whether it is a reasonable request given the constraints and opportunity costs involved in state budgeting and taxation. I understand why you are tiptoeing around the issue of cost, but eventually, I won’t be the only one asking to see the price tag.

      Anyway, it was nice chatting with you Stu and Angela, and I hope you are having an enjoyable and productive summer. I am off to Charlotte to debate the issue of municipal charter schools.

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