Lawmakers Who Fully Fund Themselves But Not The Public Education System

The following is from StrongerNC:

The North Carolina Constitution addresses a right to education in two places:  

  • Article I, Section 15 says: “The people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.”  
  • Article IX: Education, has ten Sections. Of note is Section 2 which addresses the duty of the state and local government to provide a uniform system of free public schools “…wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.”

There are also state laws that make education a right in North Carolina. One of them is N.C.G.S. 115C-1, which says:

“A general and uniform system of free public schools shall be provided throughout the State, wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students, in accordance with the provisions of Article IX of the Constitution of North Carolina…”

These provisions were tested in court when families from low wealth rural school districts sued the state for not providing an adequate education as required by the state Constitution (Leandro vs State). In 1997, the NC Supreme Court found in favor of the plaintiffs, yet to this date the state has been unable to remedy the situation after two decades of trying to figure out how to provide an equitable and adequate education, regardless of zip code.

Some progress was finally made in 2018, when Superior Court Judge David Lee appointed an education based non-profit firm, West Ed, to conduct a study and produce a comprehensive report with strategies for implementation by March 31, 2019. It would focus on three elements:

  1. Qualified Teachers
  2. Experienced Leaders
  3. Adequate Resources

Wendy Lecker, an attorney at the Education Law Center writes:

“In recent years, North Carolina public schools have experienced reductions in education funding, which, in turn, have triggered cuts in essential resources, including teachers, support staff and programs, especially in schools serving high concentrations of low-income students and students at risk of academic failure…”

Remember that the Leandro case documents are still under sealed orders but they may  be released in the future.

Consider that we as a state still spend less on per pupil expenditures when adjusted for inflation than we did before the Great Recession.

Consider that many of the lawmakers in this state make sure that they are fully funded.

From WRAL on November 6, 2019:

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger ‘s political campaign is buying him a home in Raleigh, and the State Board of Elections told him that’s allowed under North Carolina campaign finance law.

Berger’s campaign has paid at least $55,000 since August 2016 to a company he created, YPD Properties LLC. YPD is a property management company, and it appears to be a pass-through entity for campaign rent payments that ultimately pay the mortgage for a townhouse near downtown that Berger, R-Rockingham, and his wife bought in May 2016.

And from WRAL on October 9, 2019:

A powerful state legislator borrowed half a million dollars last year from a man later indicted and accused of trying to bribe another state official.

House Rules Chairman David Lewis said his farm in Harnett County needed help, and he turned to a friend and fellow farmer, John Gray. Gray loaned him $500,000 in June 2018 for what was supposed to be four months.

Deeds of trust filed in the deal show that Lewis and his wife, along with their farm and property company, put up land in four North Carolina counties as collateral. The loan has not been repaid, and Gray has not foreclosed on the properties as the deeds indicate he could.

According to both Lewis and Berger, what they have done to make themselves “fully funded” is completely legal.

Making sure that public schools are fully funded is mandated by the very state constitution that these two lawmakers are sworn to uphold.

But both have been more than willing to prolong the summer session of the NCGA while keeping teachers and education hostage just to see if they can get a veto override vote without everyone present.

money

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