Actually Phil, We Do Have Money – 10 Things NC Can Do Now To Begin To Honor The LEANDRO RULINGS

Justin Parmenter, who writes the Notes From The Chalkboard blog and is as fierce a public school advocate as I have ever had the privilege of working with, shared this sound clip from this past month in which Sen. Phil Berger comments on the Leandro report’s findings about school funding in NC.


In that sound clip, Berger states, “Our Constitution does not provide for judges to appropriate dollars. We’ve said on multiple occasions if judges want to get into the field of appropriating they need to run for the legislature. We’ll see what the order is, but again we cannot spend money we don’t have.

Funny that the state Constitution does stipulate that the state is responsible for a quality, sound public education for all students and that the Leandro finding was based on how well NC was adhering to that stipulation. But…

Even as late as June 17th, the court system has told the state that it must begin to fund improvements to the public school system per the Leandro Case findings. Below is from the N&O


Actually, NC does have the money.

Here’s what could be done now:

  1. Stop extending massive tax cuts to corporations and wealthy people. Maybe we as a state should not keep extending 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.
  2. Invest the budget surplus into our schools. The fact that there is such a huge surplus in this state’s budget while yet another round of large corporate tax cuts took hold this year is not really a sign of fiscal responsibility.
  3. Refund Unused Opportunity Grant Money. The money that this state has “invested” in vouchers has not even been totally used – maybe about half. That amounts to millions of dollars that could be put into public schools.
  4. In fact, do away with the Opportunity Grants. We should not invest almost a billion dollars’ worth into a voucher scheme over a ten-year period when it has not shown any real success and put that back into the public schools. No study has conclusively said that vouchers actually improve public educational outcomes because of “competition.” In fact, North Carolina’s version is the least transparent in the nation.
  5. Highly regulate the ESA’s and allow them to be spent on public schools as well. 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 – just look at Arizona) and allowing parents to invest it back into services for their children in public schools?
  6. Not extend so much money into new unregulated charter schools. No report on the state level has shown they are working in the way that charter schools were intended to work: to be laboratories for public schools to find new ways of teaching and bring back to traditional schools to help all students. Instead many are run by private entities.
  7. Dissolve the Innovative School District. There is not community buy-in and all models of such “reforms” have proven to not help. Furthermore, it is giving money to a private entity. Besides look at the turnover rate of the people who are supposed to run the ISD.
  8. Repeal HB514. Bill Brawley’s Municipal Charter Bill bill is nothing more than legalized segregation and allows for municipalities to ask for county property taxes to create charter schools that only service certain zip codes. In essence it allows for more property taxes to be used to fund local schools and possibly state mandates.
  9. Allow ballot measures for school bonds to remain on the ballot. Remember when this was taken off the ballot in 2018? Let the voters actually decide, especially after destructive hurricanes destroyed so much in the eastern part of our state.
  10. Pass the budget in a democratic process. No more “nuclear options” to pass a state budget.  No more “stalling” like with this year’s budget. Let the democratic process have its say. That means debate and amendments and actually voting on veto-overrides.

And look at #9 again because Rep. Tim Moore actually advertised that as a great possibility.


To which Kris Nordstrom replied bluntly and truthfully:


So, what were you saying Phil?