If there was ever a doubt that what resulted from May 16th’s march and rally in Raleigh on behalf of public education was nothing more than a moral victory, then please consider the following list of direct results of what happened in the months after the march that helped public education.
And still are helping public education.
1.Super majorities were broken.
Simply put, the governor now has veto power. Yes, Gov. Cooper could always veto a bill, but now it cannot be simply overridden automatically. Any bill that seems to favor a privatization effort like vouchers, or the ISD, or charter school funding must now be done in a more democratic fashion instead of behind closed doors.
And if you have not paid attention, Gov. Roy Cooper might be one of the most pro-public education governors any state could possibly have.
2. Budget process now has to be open.
It is hard to pass a budget in committee without a super majority- a budget with education as the top spending priority. There is no way that a budget could successfully go through a “nuclear option” as it did last summer. Debate and amendments must now occur and that means that people like Berger and Moore have to actually talk about the budget.
3. 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. These bigger systems sometimes provide a blueprint for how to handle issues that all school systems face. With new leadership that are more teacher-friendly and willing to stand up to Mark Johnson and others in Raleigh, this might be a very encouraging thing.
4. The two most egregious amendments to the constitution did not pass.
Do not forget that there have been instances that the the courts have delivered decisions that affected teachers directly (keeping veteran due-process rights, etc.). And now that the governor keeps powers over certain judicial appointments and the fact that he is very pro-public education, this should not be overlooked. Oh, and look what happened in the races for judicial seats for state level positions.
5. 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 lost after the HB 514 affair. Jeff Tarte lost handily after the stunt he pulled with DonorsChoose.org being used to fund affluent schools in his district.
6. With more seats to Democrats in the NCGA and the State School Board, Mark Johnson is held more 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. Plus, with more people in Raleigh who would be willing to keep Johnson’s actions more in the limelight, the more he might actually have to serve public schools.
7. 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. Imagine what can happen in 2020 when major seats in NC’s government are up for election – as well as a president.
8. Teachers got galvanized.
May 16th started something. NCAE gained traction.
Teachers got people to the polls.
9. Young people came out and started to see how their voices could help their students and their professions.
Imagine what kind of force they could be in 2020 when state level positions are up for elections.
10. More eyes on the political process.
More people are talking about the NCGA’s actions and inaction on the public education front on a variety of media – blogs, facebook groups, local gatherings.
11. Look at the bills that are being floated in the NCGA in this sessions.
Calendar flexibility, school bonds, master’s pay, school performance grading changes, etc.
12. Just look at Phil Berger and Mark Johnson’s released statements about the May 1st march and rally so far.
Simply put, they fear what a large collective voice for public education can do and how it can galvanize a profession of service.