Yes, Teachers Did “Remember in November” – There’s Also a November in 2020

Yesterday the News & Observer printed an article that framed how the effect of public school teacher advocacy helped break the GOP supermajority in the NC General Assembly.

T. Keung Hui reported,

Organizers of the historic May 16 teachers march in Raleigh say the words of the protesters became reality this week when North Carolina voters elected enough Democrats to break the Republican supermajority in the state legislature.

The May march marked the start of a months-long effort by the N.C. Association of Educators to elect enough “pro-education candidates” so that Republicans won’t have large enough legislative majorities to block vetoes from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

And NCAE president Mark Jewell said it well.

When we had the March for Students on May 16, we wanted to make it perfectly clear that all of our priorities were not a short-session General Assembly request but a six-month stretch to Election Day. We feel like the citizens of North Carolina stood up and said what the current supermajority is doing is not the North Carolina way.”

The breaking of that supermajority this November of 2018 did a lot to help public school advocacy in North Carolina.

  • A pro-public education governor can now use a veto. That’s really a big deal.
  • Budget process now has to be open. There is no way that a budget can successfully go through a “nuclear option.” Debate and amendments must now occur and that means that people like Berger and Moore have to actually talk about the budget.
  • Many municipalities and local LEA’s had school board shake-ups. For instance, the Winston-Salem / Forsyth County schools now have a school board that has a democrat majority. Look at Wake County.
  • Many privatizers and “non” public school advocates lost in races or had very close races. Nelson Dollar lost. He was the chief writer of the budget. Bill Brawley might might be gone after absentee votes due the HB 514 affair. Jeff Tarte lost handily after the stunt he pulled with being used to fund affluent schools in his district.
  • With more seats to Democrats, Mark Johnson is held in check. Think about it. With current makeup of lawmakers, secretly crafted bills that take power away from the state school board and give it to a puppet of a state superintendent would be harder to pass.
  • The power of the judicial branch was preserved. Those two amendments were defeated and most all of the races for state-wide judicial races went to people favored by education advocates.

And there were some trends that were established that are incredibly encouraging for the 2020 election which will feature lots of state-wide races.

  • Look at the numbers of people who voted. It was a midterm election and over %50 of registered voters came out in a time where public education was a hot button item on many platforms.
  • Young people came out. Those civic lessons are working. Imagine what kind of force they could be in 2020 when state level positions are up for elections.

Now comes the next part. 2020 is around the corner. Every General Assembly seat that was decided last week will be up for reelection as well as the state’s highest offices.

And there’s the national stage as well – one that includes Betsy DeVos.

May 16th was just a beginning.

November 6th was just a beginning.

Today is another beginning.

Means we should plan to always “remember.”