No One Who Champions Betsy DeVos Should Be Governor of NC

Over 50% of the state budget for NC is spent on public education. Currently it stands around 56-57%.

And yes that is above the national average. And there is a reason for that.

Catherine Truitt, current chancellor of Western Governor’s University in NC, is considering her own run for state superintendent in 2020. As the senior education advisor for Gov. McCrory, she penned an op-ed posted on EdNC.org on March 25, 2016 entitled “The truth on education spending.”

“The truth is, total K-12 funding has increased each year of Gov. McCrory’s administration and North Carolina now spends 57 percent of its state budget on education, far higher than the national state average of 46 percent.”

This is the same argument that Rep. Hardister made on Sept, 3rd, 2015 on his blog The Hardister Report. He talked of three sources of financing for NC public education – federal, state, and local. Both Truitt and Hardister are right; 57 percent is far higher than the national average. But that’s because it is supposed to be. The state constitution declares it.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina’s publication the 2014 Local School Finance Study provides a great history of the state’s practice in funding public schooling which is rooted in the proclamation that all children in the state ages 6-21 are guaranteed a good public education.

However, I do want to point out that before we had a “Republican governor and a Republican-controlled legislature,” the state spent an even higher percentage on public education because THAT IS WHAT THE STATE CONSTITUTION DECLARED. As I stated to Rep. Hardister in 2015,

“…those percentages of spending are not a badge of honor that this General Assembly gets to wear; it was earned many decades ago. The fact that the percentage is getting lower actually is not a positive sign for this administration. It is a reflection that the NCGA’s level of commitment to public education is wavering. Since most of the state funding goes to salaries of certified and classified employees, the fact the percentage of funds from the state is not higher than it was in years past is indicative of the stagnated salaries NC gives to teachers and assistants. With the elimination of funds for professional development and talk of cutting numbers of teaching assistants, how can you brag about the level of money spent on public schooling?”

Also lost in this is the uneven fashion in which money from the state is actually dispersed to LEA’s on the county and city levels. One of the more cohesive explanations of North Carolina’s state funding practices is a publication by the Center for American Progress entitled “The Stealth Inequities of School Funding” produced in 2012. It summarizes our state’s practices in a fairly concise manner, especially on page 46.

When Dan Forest recently made known his education platform for his run at the governor’s office, he talked a lot about putting the state’s money for public education into the hands of parents who want to send their children to private schools as well as helping funnel more resources into charter schools.

foresteducation plan

Forest’s plan really mirrors that of another privatizer – Betsy DeVos. And Forest has made no secret that he is a fan of the absolute worst Secretary of Education that this country has ever endured.

In July, DeVos was in North Carolina to tout her new program about school choice. As reported by the News & Observer,

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest promoted a new federal school choice program Wednesday that could allow more families to attend private schools or to homeschool their children.

The N&O article quoted Kris Nordstrom who offered probably the most succinct critique of this new DeVos initiative.

Locally, Kris Nordstrom, education finance and policy consultant for the N.C. Justice Center’s Education and Law Project, said the proposed scholarship program is a terrible idea. He said it will likely result in more money going to help subsidize the tuition costs for parents who would have sent their children to private school anyway.

“We know that where we have these voucher programs we will be subsidizing religious extremist, anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” Nordstrom said in an interview Wednesday. “Schools that tell students dinosaurs walked with man, schools that tell students slavery wasn’t that bad.”

Nordstrom questioned the timing of the new program when DeVos is also talking about federal education cuts for initiatives such as afterschool programs and teacher training. DeVos attributed the cuts to Congress wanting the federal government to “tighten the belt.”

Nordstrom called Wednesday’s visit a “clown show all around” designed to help boost Forest, who is running for governor in 2020.

Nordstrom’s tweet later in the day clarified a little more about that “clown show.”

clown show

That license plate idea was an idea from back in 2015. The plates were to look like this.

plate1

The demand never reached 500 to start the production.

Forest is aligning himself more and more with Betsy DeVos. This is from last June.

forestdevos

It is ironic how Forest can be so anti pro-choice and so pro-school choice at the same time. But that is exactly what Betsy DeVos is as well.

At the end of June, 2019, Peter Greene, who writes the well-known Curmudgucation education blog wrote a piece for Forbes.com entitled “How School Choice Undermines Democratic Processes.”

In this very well-explained piece, he talks about something akin to what DeVos was pushing in North Carolina today – the Tax Credit Scholarship.

But Tax Credit Scholarships disempower taxpayers even further by putting the purse strings in the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations.

A TCS system essentially lets those folks give their dollars to schools instead of using the money to pay their taxes. In effect, the donors fund schools directly, rather than through tax dollars paid to the state (meanwhile, the state’s tax revenue drops a commensurate amount).