Concerning The John Locke Foundation’s “Perspective” On The LEANDRO Ruling

Yesterday the libertarian think tank John Locke Foundation hosted an online event to talk about the LEANDRO case in NC and the judicial system’s ruling concerning the funding of public schools.

Please remember that the John Locke Foundation is one of two official North Carolina affiliates of the State Policy Network established by the Koch brothers, one of whom recently passed away.

The other NC affiliate is the Civitas Institute, a sister organization to the John Locke Foundation.

It’s hard not to guess what angle the JLF will take in this “argument,” but the last little part of the blurb about it in today’s posting seemed a little odd.

Just as troubling, a forced-funding court order would turn the North Carolina Constitution on its head, taking the power to appropriate money away from the legislature and giving it to the judicial branch. In this conversation, our experts will look at the possible scenarios, the experience of other states that are operating under these types of orders, research on the relationship between funding and outcomes, and the overall impact on school kids, parents, taxpayers, and policymakers.

That whole “look at possible scenarios” and “research on the relationship between funding and outcomes” and “overall impact” seems like staged ignorance.

Why? Because that’s what the WestEd report released last fall did. Again, here is the entire report – Sound Basic Education for All – An Action Plan for North Carolina.

These were the 12 basic findings listed below.

  • Finding #1: Funding in North Carolina has declined over the last decade.
  • Finding #2: The current distribution of education funding is inequitable.
  • Finding #3: Specific student populations need higher levels of funding.
  • Finding #4: Greater concentrations of higher-needs students increases funding needs.
  • Finding #5: Regional variations in costs impact funding needs.
  • Finding #6: The scale of district operations impacts costs.
  • Finding #7: Local funding and the Classroom Teacher allotments create additional funding inequities.
  • Finding #8: New constraints on local flexibility hinder district ability to align resources with student needs.
  • Finding #9: Restrictions on Classroom Teacher allotments reduce flexibility and funding levels.
  • Finding #10: Frequent changes in funding regulations hamper budget planning.
  • Finding #11: The state budget timeline and adjustments create instability.
  • Finding #12: There is inadequate funding to meet student needs.

These are 12 of the many many data exhibits that helped to summarize some of those issues as far as the effects of poverty on school systems, lower numbers of teacher candidates, attrition levels, per-pupil expenditures, and how it is hard to compare NC to other states in how it funds its schools.

leandro 1
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leandro 12

And then that “we don’t have the money” thing? Well, they could look at doing some of these things:

  1. Stop extending massive tax cuts to corporations and wealthy people. 
  2. Invest the budget surplus into our schools. 
  3. Refund Unused Opportunity Grant Money. 
  4. In fact, do away with the Opportunity Grants. 
  5. Highly regulate the ESA’s and allow them to be spent on public schools as well. 
  6. Not extend so much money into new unregulated charter schools. 
  7. Dissolve the Innovative School District. 
  8. Repeal HB514. 
  9. Allow ballot measures for school bonds to remain on the ballot. 
  10. Pass the budget in a democratic process. 

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


In fact, Tim Moore is one of JLF’s favorite people.